Tomorrow we celebrate Earth Day. From a quick internet search I learned that Earth Day is observed on April 22 because it marks the anniversary of the modern environmental movement. Goodness, I thought upon reading this, I hate to tell y’all, but if we’ve been trying to save the planet since the 70s I have to say that I don’t think we’ve done a very good job.

Maybe things were worse in the 70s. I really don’t know much about that sort of thing.

All I know is when I was in elementary school they told us to always get plastic bags at the grocery store. I grew up thinking plastic was better.

Sometime in my 20s I decided paper was the better alternative, because paper comes from trees and trees are a renewable resource. Another quick internet search told me that plastic bags generate 39 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than uncomposted paper bags. But, sea turtles don’t mistake paper bags for jellyfish and murder themselves. It seems that perhaps all options are bad. I think probably the best thing to do is just put your groceries and other purchases in bags that can be reused over and over again. I think that, but I always forget to actually do it unless I go to Aldi— a grocery store where they don’t bag your groceries.

I carry a lot of guilt for all the things I do that I know are bad for the environment.

I don’t use cloth diapers. I haven’t recycled properly in a very long time. I wait in long lines for not-so-fast fast food. I sometimes leave the television on all day long. I forget to turn the bathroom light off. I don’t turn the water off when I brush my teeth.

But then, there are things I do that I think are supposed to be good. I didn’t realize it until fairly recently, but buying secondhand is actually good for the environment. There is probably so much secondhand stuff out there that factories could shut down for a few years and there would be plenty of clothes, toys, furniture and whatever else you could think of that you need.  I don’t think that idea would be too popular.

It’s daunting to think about for me, because I don’t think your average Joe, such as myself, is going to be able to do much in the way of fighting pollution and making a healthier planet. There are too many of us, and it’s too easy not to be environmentally conscious.

 I think some really smart people and some really rich people are going to have to come together and figure this out.  Perhaps all consumables and packaging could be either recyclable or compostable.

Gosh, I don’t know what the answer is. All I really know is that I don’t know much at all, but from the little I do know I find the whole ordeal entirely depressing.

Happy Earth Day. I guess I’ll give recycling another shot.

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at

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