By David Gelfand
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
The weekend always seem to come fastest when you’re sitting at your desk, looking at the clock, and notice it’s that much closer to 5pm. Just last month I found myself inundated with Facebook posts, promotions, and commercials about “Earth Day.” While I appreciate the festivities and even gifted myself with a few morning walks in the dew-filled grass, I found myself perplexed as to the true essence of this holiday. After all, the more a holiday becomes commercialized, the less it really means in my opinion. It becomes an excuse to go out, buy something, and put a smile on your face. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for a smile, but I like knowing what I’m smiling about. With that being said, I decided to dig a bit deeper into this not-so-foreign concept known as “Earth Day.”
As I sit at my desk, insulated from the world around me, I can’t help but find myself mesmerized by the swaying motion of the trees outside. Just in the last week, my lone window facing the world has exposed me to the downpour of rain, the beaming light of the sun, and the snow flurry remnants of our bitter winter. In just these two weeks I’ve become connected and enveloped in our world’s power. I’ve seen the trials and tribulations of our nature’s path right before my eyes. It’s hard to not appreciate, ruminate on, and consider these changes that we so often take for granted.
The food we eat, the earth we walk on, and the air we breathe is all just a subset of what Mother Nature has to offer us. We are intrinsically natural beings, born and raised by the earth beneath our feet. It’s time to make these connections and recognize where we come from, what our source of nutrient is, and what allows us to continue to live and thrive as a species.
April 22nd marked the 43rd annual Earth Day holiday. From what I gathered, it’s not just a holiday, though. It’s a celebration. A day of appreciation. A commemorative moment where we reevaluate our place in nature. What contributions do we make? How have we helped the source of our life? How and where can we improve?
For those that aren’t familiar, a brief history lesson is worthwhile. Sipping my morning cup of coffee in Milwaukee, I began researching the origins of Earth Day. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the founder of Earth Day was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. His name was Gaylord Nelson. Even more interestingly, he graduated from my Alma matter – the University of Wisconsin-Madison! It’s no surprise that environmental efforts were prominent in Madison, WI back then – they’re certainly not lacking there now.
Asked for his rationale in establishing an Earth Day, Senator Gaylord Nelson spoke frankly, stating that, “For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country.” Senator Gaylord Nelson delivered a speech in Denver, CO on Earth Day in 1970, explaining that “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all living creatures.” Senator Gaylord was strongly influenced by Aldo Leopold (also a UW-Madison teacher) and his teachings that focused on environmental and forest specialization and conservation. Throughout his tenure as Senator and after, Senator Gaylord was a critical proponent of environmental consciousness and helped fortify the efforts made to live in a more sustainable, natural, and conscious world.
Today, Senator Nelson’s mission lives on. Earth Day now serves as a collaborative effort by all citizens to live in a more unified and natural existence, taking strides to improve our sustainability and conservation efforts. Earth Day is credited with launching our modern day environmental movement with laws such as the Clear Air Act and Clean Water Act following. The Earth Day Network has been established in honor of this movement. Its website states that, “Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.”
While Earth Day only lasts for the one day, it’s more of an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to make holistic and lifestyle changes for the environment. It’s an opportunity to change your daily habits, weekly regimen, and become more environmentally responsible.
Henry David Thoreau, one of the great American poets, naturalists, and authors, wrote an essay titled “Walking.” In an attempt to expose our inner, rooted love of nature, Thoreau progressively shows the inherent connection between civilization and nature. He describes the ever-changing relationship between man and nature, and how this relationship is sustainable through accepting our psychological bond with wilderness. In his first lines, Thoreau declares that, “I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wilderness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil – do regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of a society.”
The simple act of walking, Thoreau explains, is too often mistreated and dismissed as a rudimentary part of human existence. On the contrary, Thoreau clarifies, it is our liberating force. Walking, and walking in nature specifically, is what removes us from the insensibility of sitting idly, confined in our homes and offices all day.
“Here is this vast, savage, hovering mother of ours, Nature, lying all around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the leopard; and yet we are so early weaned from her breast to society, to that culture which is exclusively an interaction of man on man.” Think about it – our potential as humans far supersedes our daily limitations. It’s time to step outside and engage your senses and your mind.
If nothing else, Earth Day is an opportunity to engage yourself in the world around you. Step outside and connect yourself with the world. One of the best ways to do this is by a new, natural phenomenon known as grounding. By connecting yourself with the earth beneath your feet, you are able to absorb its naturally occurring electrons. These electrons serve as an antioxidant of sorts, neutralizing the free radicals built up in our bodies. It’s natural. It’s fun. And, most importantly, it feels good. I encourage you to try walking barefoot and seeing what kind of effect it has on your body. It’s no mystery why civilizations before us lived barefoot and experienced far less health ailments than we do today. They were rooted and lived in harmony with the earth beneath their feet.
Juil is a new footwear brand that allows you to go about your daily life and stay connected with the earth at the same time. By placing copper conductors in the heel and toes of their footwear, Juil allows you to maintain your connection with the earth. This connection has shown to improve the lives of many. Check them out at www.juil.com. Juil has kindly offered a 15% discount for all readers of WakeUpWorld. Use coupon code WUWDG15 for your discount (free shipping both ways applies within the continental United States).
About the author:
David Gelfand, a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, is a dedicated environmentalist with especially strong interest in sustainability and history. David is also an avid writer and traveler, spending much of his time in the capacity of a culinary enthusiast. Working for an upstart footwear company called Juil, David is a part of a team that spreads the word about grounding and its associated benefits. Through marketing and educational efforts, David is passionate about the newfound concept of grounding footwear.