Earth Day – À Chacun Son Goût

à chacun son goût – ‘to each his own taste’ — our compost bin, circa 2005, with rusty bed-spring cup holder | photo and post by Jenny Stein

Earth Day—April 22—always sneaks up on me; to tell the truth I’ve never been that excited by the day. I think my febrile teenage mind was informed by the 60s and yet by 1970, when Earth Day was first celebrated, the event felt manufactured. For context, my mother was never one to embrace Mother’s Day (not the whole of who she was) with the result that my learned behavior is to lump all these holidays under the Hallmark umbrella. Harsh? Perhaps.

This year is different. As co-chair, with Dan Genter, of the FHA Environmental Committee, there is the niggling sense that I should do or say something. Dan and I took on the committee responsibilities a little over a year ago—along with Dan’s mom: Terri Thomas. Dan and Terri are die-hard environmentalists. It’s both how they are educated and how they choose to earn a living. In contrast, I’m more your run-of-the-mill environmentalist. ‘Environmentalist’ is not how I define myself and yet this ethos informs many of my daily choices.

My parents were early adopters: organic food, raised-bed gardening. For my entire life I’ve composted, recycled, and re-used (to the extreme—thank heavens for the re-use area at the head of the dock—without which I’d never get rid of a single thing). These are all actions I take for granted; they are so integral to my life that I rarely give them a second thought.

Are all my actions so laudable? Hardly. I think nothing of flying back and forth between Ireland and Sausalito. I happily eat blueberries out of season. Coffee? Absolutely. But I also enjoy the seasonality of food: the glut of asparagus or sweet corn and tomatoes. I experience first hand that seasonality in the vegetables I grow when in Ireland. The pickling, canning and jam making that my ex-Park Avenue/Manhattan mom took on—along with yoghurt and bread making—are now my own pleasures.

So what am I really trying to say? I think the world is richer for all the variety of people and their interests. If Earth Day floats your boat, go for it. Not to put too fine a spin on it, I think it matters less what it is you choose to do, than that you choose to do something at all.