Eco Comment – Earth Day = People who care and do

19 April 2024

When you see organisations and companies ranging from the Radio Times to charities desperate for your money referencing Earth Day as part of their marketing strategies, you know that someone, somewhere has taken note of an event that started very small in 1970 and has now become a date that is noticed and acted upon. Some might say this has been a long time coming. Fifty four years and counting! However, a lot has changed in that time. Not enough to satisfy the many people who have been at the forefront of climate change action but maybe due to their efforts more people are aware of the problems that we as a planet face if more actions are not taken.

This week saw the showing of a film ‘Of Walking on Thin Ice’ in the cathedral. This took place due to conversations and action between similarly concerned people from Wakefield Cathedral and Just Transition Wakefield. Wakefield Council demonstrated their support through the presence of Cllrs Denise Jeffery and Jack Hemingway and publicly stated their commitment to a greener future for our city and the surrounding towns.

The film told of a walk from London to Glasgow by a group of people who were committed to demonstrating their concerns for the future health of the earth. The film itself was made using hand held cameras so had that home-made feel about it. This added to the ‘realness’ of the adventure. The sound track was a mixture of half heard conversations plus songs and chants intended to keep spirits high as well as promoting their message as they walked through streets and fields. Walkers were seen in all weathers, from beautiful sunshine with their banners flying to torrential rain, keeping going, literally putting one foot in front of the other with heavy, sodden rucksacks. One of the things that struck me was how often it was churches along the route that provided sustenance and shelter for the walkers. People who were unable to walk the full 500 miles would join for a day or even less and the numbers swelled or lessened often depending on the proximity to town/city or countryside that they passed. I noted that the route followed rivers and canals because of their relatively flat walking terrain. Hills and even mountainous landscapes were seen but nearly always in the far distance. The walkers took it in turn to wear a coat which was made from a patchwork of squares which were added to as the march progressed. Each square being a contribution from people and places along the way. I wonder where that coat is now? Maybe some research is called for? Watch this space.

Watching the film was quite an emotional experience. The thought of the numbers of people who must have been involved in the organisation of such a journey, the sheer logistics of such a venture, not to mention the strength of the participants, left me in awe. I wonder if those people in 1970 realised what a groundswell force would appear through that decision to have an Earth Day? According to their website (earthday.org) over 1 billion people have been mobilised to protect the planet. In fact, as they say, ‘It’s not a day, it’s a movement’.

The theme this year is ‘Planet vs Plastic’. The website states ‘EARTHDAY.ORG is unwavering in (it’s) commitment to end plastics for the sake of human and planetary health, demanding a 60% reduction of ALL plastics by 2040. (Their) theme, Planet vs. Plastics, call to advocate for widespread awareness on the health risk of plastics, urgently push for a strong UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution, and demand an end to fast fashion.’ They then ask people to join them ‘build a plastic-free planet for generations to come.’

The Earth Day website makes interesting reading and stresses the legacy of collective action. The Wakefield Council website also has a page of events taking place on and around Earth Day. These range from an exhibition by Tony Wade at Create Café, to the Eco Festival on Saturday 20th April at the Hepworth (where we will have a stall), to Appletree Community Garden on Monday 22nd finishing the week with an Earth Day themed Family Fun Day next Saturday 27th April in the cathedral nave.

It would be great to see some of you at some of these events.

Susan Morgan
Eco Group

Want to know more about the Eco Group?

Wakefield Cathedral’s Eco Group brings together members of the congregation, volunteers and staff to work towards making the cathedral a greener place to work and worship.

The Eco Group achieves its goals through a variety of activities, including partnerships with local community groups.

We invite anyone and everyone to reach out if they are interested in joining the eco group, or simply finding out more about what we do.

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