I was out of town and missed all the great eco events in Charlottesville on April 22. Earth Day was a bit removed from my radar, subsumed by family gatherings and travel. But there was one moment when I invoked the holiday.
It happened while I was taking a run with my dad and his wife. We were running on a windy little road with almost no traffic, quiet enough that you can hear the creek that flows alongside. My dad’s been nursing a cold and brought some tissues in his pocket. At one point, he took one out, blew his nose…and dropped the tissue on the ground.
My dad is not without environmental consciousness. Far from it. I would say I largely learned my respect for the planet from him, in fact. But whether it’s a generational difference or some weird tic of personality, he has a blind spot for certain issues of personal responsibility that, to me, are sacrosanct. Recycling is one. Litter is another.
As the tissue fluttered to the grass, his wife and I exchanged a look. "Dad!" I said, interrupting a story that he’d been telling as he committed the terrible sin. "What?" he replied. "It’s biodegradeable."
"It’s visual pollution," I said, though this did not really express my objection. It was more eloquent just to wade into the wet grass and retrieve the tissue, so I did that. "It’s Earth Day," I said.
Later in the run, he almost dropped another one, but caught himself. So it was worth running home with a used tissue in my pocket.