Earth Day 2011: Going Green in the U.S. Easier than Ever

Image of "Gaia" painting by Alex Grey

Today, April 22nd, marks the 40th annual Earth Day. Founded in 1970 by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, the observance day began — ironically — as an American-centric “holiday” to raise awareness of the importance of environmental conservation in the United States. Largely a day lauded by tree huggers and scorned by legions of kool-aid drinking conservatives (people who don’t believe in conserving anything), the current iteration of Earth Day serves as a poignant example of what the concept of “going green” means to everyday Americans: it is nothing more than a slick marketing term sold to the masses to make us feel better about our insatiable consumption.

What is so ironic about Earth Day and conservation in America? With less than five percent of the Earth’s population, “U.S. Americans” consume more than a quarter of the planet’s fossil fuel resources and contribute approximately 278 million tons of un-recycled waste into the environment each year. Fear not — an additional 120 million or so tons are “recycled,” so pat yourselves on the back.

For many, going green simply means disposing of empty water bottles, beer cans, Pringles containers, boxes of Pop Tarts, and an array of other cardboard boxes from so-called food items into a different collection bin that magically saves the environment while allowing people to belly up to Wal-Mart and buy more product. Saving the environment by consuming more products, in essence.

So what does this mean? In the spirit of American individualist consumerism and, even moreso, following the lead of our nation’s government and corporate entities, it means you are free to define your own meaning of “going green.”

Here are some examples of how you can become an environmentally-conscious American and “go green”:

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