Opinion: Why every day should be “Earth Day”

4/22/15. Earth Day.

It’s a wonderful thing to pause and take time to consider the natural environment around us. It seems that too often we live caught up in our lifestyles and recreation, so much so that a specific day can really help to renew our mindset of sustainability, or even just cause us to pause for a moment to consider what Earth Day really means. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t even know enough to truly recognize the historical significance of earth day….

But I do know enough to believe that every day should be an “earth day”

The top of the Hangover Loop (Sedona, AZ)
The top of the Hangover Loop (Sedona, AZ)

Our reputation depends on it.

Generally speaking, mountain bikers are a pretty earth-friendly crowd.  Apart from the emissions spent on getting to and from trailheads, I think that we have a fairly good understanding that our recreation depends on the environment–everything from the beauty of the landscape to its unique features and topography. However, when we don’t view every day as an earth day, we can lose our focus on developing sustainable recreation habits and sustainable infrastructure (trails, facilities, services).  When our focus on sustainability fades, it can negatively affect how our mountain biking “culture” is viewed from the outside and, simply put, it can trash our environment fast if we aren’t actively conscious.

First-time mountain biker on the Goat Trails (Palm Springs, CA)

Our mountain biking depends on it.

But apart from people’s perspective, I would put forward that the very sport we enjoy is being threatened when we don’t view every day as earth day. Take any of these specific examples: air quality in our riding areas, trash littering our trails/trailheads, increased erosion due to climate change, marring of landscape, quality drinking water in jeopardy, scarcer wildlife sightings, more annoying insects, availability of trail systems, and so much more! This impact might be far less obvious than that of snow sports being affected by climate change, but it seems quite rational that some of these philosophies can still be applied to the quality of our recreation and the longevity of our enjoyment.

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Greg Heil riding sustainable singletrack. Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Our existence depends on it.

Regardless of what you believe about climate change (or how strongly you believe it), one thing is certain: “Shit’s gettin’ real!”  And here’s what I mean: extinction of wildlife, toxic dumps, plastic accumulations, filthy water sources, dried up aquifers, disappearing lakes, increased sea level, thick air pollution, severe climate imbalances–you name it! This is just a sampling of the things happening to our earth that have been documented recently in great magnitude.

Photo Credit: NASA — Lake Mead between 1985 and 2010. Reduced to 37% capacity.

Now I’m no “tree-huggin’ hippie”–maybe you think otherwise–but I do believe that it’s our duty to think about our human impact on a larger scale.  Some of the items listed here pertain to intrinsic desires, like enjoyment through increased trail access and cleaner trails… but I think other things are almost entirely extrinsic when first examined, such as our view of the world and how the actions of humanity affect the world and our long-term well being.

Why not just enjoy Earth Day and be done with it?

Yes, Earth Day is a great reminder and a fantastic example of sustainability in many ways, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves to thinking in terms of one day. Instead, Earth Day should serve as a reminder that every day is a day that we can use to actively care for the earth.

Let’s embrace Earth Day for what is was on April 22nd of this year and years passed, but move forward with a refreshed perspective on every day as earth day.

After all, there isn’t just one Mountain Bike Day, is there? That would be a depressing world….

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