This April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual event celebrated around the world to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries. As we get ready to celebrate this momentous anniversary, I have thought more about this planet, how it is evolving every day -- for better and for worse -- and my and my family's responsibility in helping to take care of it.
When my husband and I decided to start having children, we weren't really thinking about the world they'd grow up in and be a part of, or what it really meant for them to be "safe." We thought a lot about how to keep them safe from sharp corners and from swallowing small toys, safe when crossing the street, and -- as they got older -- even how to keep them safe online. But the world has been changing around us. And they're noticing. Keeping them "safe" doesn't mean what it used to -- for them or to us.
My boys are 11 and 6. In the past year, they have seen a lot of things happen in this world that confused them and made them ask us if our Earth is safe:
- In March 2019, we were introduced to the term "bomb cyclone" in our house, when a historic storm brought strong winds, heavy snow, and rain to areas of the central U.S., where the boys' Grandpa and cousins live
- In June, our TV screens were covered with images of burnt koala bears as the Australian bushfires raged. The boys asked us, "How many koalas are dying? Why can't they stop the fires?" and, honestly, we just didn't know how to answer
- In November, they worried about my safety as I left for a work conference in California where the wildfires were raging and asked how the firemen would make sure the fires didn't reach my hotel
- And in March 2020 -- when they learned about COVID-19 -- they asked us why the virus is happening now, when we've never seen anything like this in our lives. We explained how one of the reasons pandemics happen is with fewer places to live and fewer food sources to feed on, animals find food and shelter where people are, and that can lead to disease spread
It's been difficult for us to explain these world crises to our boys and even harder for us to think about how to keep them safe while the Earth drastically changes around them. We have begun to focus on helping them keep the Earth "safe" by helping them make environmental decisions in their lives:
- To help conserve water, we ask them to turn off the faucet when they're brushing their teeth
- We talk to the boys about recycling and they help us by putting their snack wrappers and old homework pages in the recycle bin
- We use a reusable lunch bag every day, and twice a year go through old toys and donate them to friends (or a local charity) for reuse
- We take walks and hikes together in nature and talk about how beautiful our Earth is and how we can take better care of it
I have always been a big believer in the smallest changes having a BIG impact, if we all work together. As a part of Akamai's Corporate Sustainability team, I believe that all of us together can make a difference, and I can't wait to tell my boys how their actions -- along with millions of other people, companies, and governments around the world -- might help make the Earth safer for everyone this Earth Day, and every Earth Day celebrated from here on out.
To learn more about Akamai's sustainability commitments, visit akamai.com/sustainability