Happy Earth Weekend! What started off as Earth Day, a celebration of this beautiful planet we call home & Mother, is now a weekend celebration of people coming together in the spirit of living a more sustainable life in Dallas. From activists, innovators, educators, charities and enthusiasts, EarthDayTx has something for everybody interested in positive Earth change.
“The Great Work now, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.” – Thomas Berry, “The Great Work”
Held at the fair park, in the heart of Dallas and normally home to an unhealthy variety of fried food; Earth Day is spread across six different buildings, showcasing companies and organisations offering services and products to help us live more environmentally conscious lives. From automobile, to health and beauty, recycling, agriculture & sustainability to charitable organisations and schools and universities, anybody in the market for buying eco products is in for a treat. Unfortunately I attended on Friday and the event was only partially ready. Many exhibitors hadn’t set up yet and there was a very limited program of speakers & musicians. Saturday and Sunday had a bumper packed schedule and I was wishing I had another day to attend. That said, I walked around pretty much every aisle in every building and I had ran out of steam before I got to see any performances.
I did however make a seed bomb of Texan wildflowers, try the new dairy free ice-cream from Ben & Jerry’s and go in four Tiny Houses to have a look around. The sustainability and agriculture sections were my favourite, lots of charitable organisations and businesses doing a lot of good work to give the Earth a helping hand against us humans. I loved the $5 tree seed pots by Forest Nation and Green Schools Alliance and the Solar Cooker exhibited by SolSource. If only the UK had more sunshine, we could all reduce our tax on non-renewable energy sources like Gas and cook with the power of the sun alone!
Some scary statistics about the Oceans – a plastic island bigger than Texas is floating in the sea – had me signing up for a lot of petitions and newsletters. There were some great installations by washed ashore.org bringing to life the plight of marine life as a result of human pollution. From oil to plastic we’re loading up our beautiful ocean with a terrible legacy.
The 5 Gyres Institute displayed a great infographic of what microbeads are doing to our fish, with melted plastic building blocks building an installation wall. Art aside, what scared me most was the statistic that “a single plastic particle can absorb up to 1,000,000 times more toxic chemicals than the water around it”, with 43,000 plastic particles found, on average per /km2 in Lake Erie (5 Gyres Institute), it should be a scary wakeup call whether you’re vegan/vegetarian or a fish eater. I’ve previously suggested adding a pinch of baking soda to face wash for a micro particle scrub. Low cost, in most kitchen cupboards and none polluting to the life blood of our planet.
I won’t lie, I was part of the big crowd of people excitedly queuing to see the Tiny Houses. From what I heard around me the people of Dallas were inspired by the possibility of buying a little house outright and living free. My adventures this past year knows that the realities of the boundless life as not as romantic as it seems (walmart carparks, cold nights below zero and finding places to cook and wash keep the mind occupied with the next stop), but the comfort of the tiny house, the accessibility and the promise of freedom sure do make it a respite from the reality of the day grind. Limited only by your imagination, two exhibitors I spoke to said they’d build their tiny house for just shy of $25,000 by doing the labour themselves. Companies offering building services are charging about $60,000 for the finished product, it wasn’t clear whether this included white goods, bed etc.
A big hit in America due to the TV show, I’m interested to see whether Tiny Houses fever has hit the UK, or if we’re still more part of the caravan and camper generation. Do we have the engine capacity to tow a tiny house around the UK and Europe? Are our lovely old brick bridges too low for a tiny house to pass and could we even afford the petrol to do the road trip?! At just shy of $2 per gallon in Texas and our 5.9 Dodge getting 10 – 15 to the gallon it’s almost feasible, but petrol in the UK was £1.29 a litre when I left 18 months ago, I can’t believe it could drop to 50p per litre to bring it more in line with Texas!
The sustainable food market wasn’t what I imagined, they were offering $5 tasting plates at six different outlets. Unfortunately, not all the chef’s offered vegan options, so we decided to pass. $5 for 3 tiny plates wasn’t enough to satisfy my hunger. The vegetarian and vegan food truck had closed by the time we found it and we ended up having Vegan Brisket, seitan in some kind of spicy sauce. It was ok, but didn’t sit right with me and I think that was because of the bread (American wheat does not sit well with me). The other options available to us were Vegan corndogs or a vegan hot dog, but it’s bread bread bread, wheat wheat wheat. The concessions around the park sell pretzels and pizza slices, Calidad are giving away sample bags of tortilla chips and somebody is selling kettle corn; but nutrition is not easily found here and the staff manning the ticketing for the food fair don’t seem to understand the difference between vegan and vegetarian. When I tried to explain, the staff member asserted their awareness of what constitutes a vegan diet vs a vegetarian one, but that people used them interchangeably. Not true! Anybody eschewing cruelty to animals or preferring a plant based diet for health, would chow down on cheese and eggs as soon as the moment presents itself.
The best part of the day for me was getting up close and personal with people who care about making a change and hearing their stories, from the manager of Bontom farm, to the Norwegian demonstrator of the solar cooker, SolSource, the people showcasing their tiny homes, the Forest Alliance and Retreet, connecting cyclists with community gardening; we catch a glimmer of strands connecting us to each other, making a giant net to patch up the cracks and catch us from falling through. With every event like this, every person attending and going back home inspired by making even just one positive change and action, every person innovating a new resource saving product and every organisation working to correct the imbalances they see, the world is gathering speed at repair and recovery. There is so much to do, but the pendulum is swinging in the right direction, if we all jump on it together.
“The human venture depends absolutely on this quality of awe and reverence and joy in the Earth and all that lives and grows upon the Earth. As soon as we isolate ourselves from these currents of life and from the profound mood that these engender within us, then our basic life-satisfactions are diminished.” – Thomas Berry, “The Dynamics of the Future”
With a promising schedule of inspirational speakers and music from local musicians, the rest of the weekend looks exciting and there is truly something for everybody. Go along, take your friends and car share. Can’t make it to an event? There are many ways of celebrating the Earth. Get out in nature. Watch the trees, plants, flowers, birds, animals and insects. Breathe in the air. Make your own personal peace with the Earth and listen to see if she tells you what help she needs. Find some local organisations requiring volunteers, even if there aren’t environmental volunteering opportunities there are community based charities that help make somebody’s day, taking care of each other is also taking care of the Earth. If we all respected and loved each other we would respect and love the Earth.
“Nature is seen by humans through a screen of beliefs, knowledge, and purposes, and it is in terms of their images of nature, rather than of the actual structure of nature, that they act. Yet, it is upon nature itself that they do act, and it is nature itself that acts upon them, nurturing or destroying them.” Roy A. Rappaport
Maybe one day it will be Earth Life and every day we will celebrate and act loving the Earth and each other.