Re-Envisioning Earth Day
Re-Envisioning Earth Day
CAMPAIGN: Arrow's CSR Mission: Innovating Tomorrow
Earth Day has an image problem. This venerable holiday bears a patina of tree-hugger and righteous scout, somehow not exactly in step with the times. Part of the problem may be the notion that anything that could be done in one day is woefully inadequate in the face of daunting environmental problems that loom on every front. Yes, we need to plant trees – but we’re cutting them down at a rate of 15 billion a year. Is Earth Day enough? Touted as the birth of the “modern” environmental movement, Earth Day may well have been important in the formative years of today’s environmental leaders, but as a call to action today, it falls short.
China – The New Five-Year Plan
The stamp of the Chinese woman planting a tree (above) is from 1957, 13 years ahead of the first Earth Day. And this year as China releases its 13th Five-Year Plan, environmental goals feature prominently:
- Reduce emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% of 2005 levels by 2020
- Increase the share of nonfossil energy to 15% by 2020
- Ban commercial logging in natural forests
Further, according to the Five-Year Plan: “The proposal also builds on momentum in the area of environmental protection, with oversight mechanisms such as a water management system, [and] an emission permit system… [It] emphasizes the need to modernize China’s agriculture in an environmentally friendly way. There is continued emphasis on green development and creating an ecological civilization which includes promoting a low-carbon economic system and performance indicators to wean government officials off of the growth-at-all-costs mindset.”
Earth Day – Where’s Your Plan?
Earth Day needs a plan, or at least a rebranding. We here at Arrow use our tagline of “Five Years Out” to guide our thinking, trying to anticipate what the world will need, designing solutions for the future. With this in mind, I’m proposing that this Earth Day we focus on designing environmental solutions that scale – that we shift our focus from simple actions like recycling (which ought to be second nature by now) toward envisioning what it would be like if we applied what we know to seal the leaks in the electrical grid, to dramatically cut food waste and improve agricultural outcomes, to deliver healthcare to the underserved, and to help with the logistics needed to support climate refugees. I envision toxin-free electronics like the ones HP and Dell are working toward. I envision a true circular flow in electronics, completely eliminating electronics from the waste stream, formalizing repair and reuse, and making our electronics as reliable our washing machines.
This year, help me transform Earth Day from the mundane into the inspirational. I’m eager to write about these solutions, so send me news of new exploits. Change this Earth Day from “Oh me” to “Oh my!”
Carol Baroudi works for Arrow’s Value Recovery business, promoting sustainability awareness and action. She is the lead author of Green IT for Dummies. Her particular focus is on electronics at the IT asset disposition stage, e-waste and everything connected to them. Follow her on Twitter @carol_baroudi, and connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carolbaroudi.