Posted by: Ken Homer | April 22, 2008

Earth Day – Four Questions for Sustainability

Today is Earth Day 2008. 

As an eighth grade student in 1970, I thought Earth Day heralded a new age of reason.

Richard Nixon created the EPA. Congress passed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Conserving and restoring the environment was seen as a national priority.  

Pollution joined poverty and drugs on the list of items upon which to wage war.

Perhaps that is why things have not gone so well.

There was a popular slogan during the Vietnam war: War is not healthy for children and other living things.

War mentality is insufficient to the task of restoring the ecosystems of our world to health and balance.

We do not need to make war on pollution and climate change so much as we need to make peace with ourselves and our ways of being on Earth.

Here’s a suggestion for creating a “Personal Sustainability Challenge.”

While this practice can be done alone, it is much more fun to work with a couple of friends or family members – they’ll help you think of things you would not come up with on your own.

All you need is a pencil and some paper.

You are going to explore four questions:

1. Qualifications and passions – What are some of the personal characteristics, qualities, skills or talents that I love to engage and that make me uniquely suited to contribute to the sustainability efforts now sweeping the globe?

2. Resources and relationships – In what ways does my family, school, community and/or work situation provide me with resources and relationships where I can take effective action on sustainability issues?

3. Noticing – Looking around from where I sit or stand, what are two or three things related to sustainability, that I see are in need of doing, and for which I am both qualified and resourced?

4. Actions – Based on the above information, what are two or three simple actions I am willing to commit to taking on a daily or weekly basis to make a difference?

Share your commitments with your partners.

Make sure they are commitments you can actually keep.

Make them simple.

Far better to take a five minute action each day or week that can be sustained over time – insignificant though these actions may seem – then to tackle some huge project that will overwhelm you and soon be abandoned.

Everything we do matters.

Is the sky falling? Watch this and decide for yourself.





  1. It seems to me that we all have the same fundamental qualifications: we can choose to not eat tuna, fish sticks or other wild foods, to use reusable bags when shopping, to walk or ride a bike when possible, the list is endless.

    And we can be free with telling others what we are doing and why.

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