The Mast-Head: Earth Day Hooky


Comments that Americans have all but forgotten about the great outdoors are every­where these days, from children’s television to the White House Council on Fitness. An e-mail newsletter from the Renewable Energy Long Island group brought notice this week of a new effort to get people off their duffs and doing something to connect with nature.

In an online promotional challenge, the makers of a well-known ale will give cash donations to several environmental organizations to mark Earth Day, which is April 22. All the online public has to do is agree to make such vows as “I pledge today to look at trees that aren’t coming out of a copy machine” or “I pledge to trade my BlackBerry for my barbecue.” Onward the statements go, essentially advocating a national day of office hooky, which, if you think about it, is not such a bad idea.

For every digital agreement, the beer company will give $25, up to $2,500 apiece, to the American Solar Energy Society, Engineers Without Borders, Rails-to-Trails, and the Wild Salmon Center. (I voted for the engineers.)

That I like this particular brand of beer notwithstanding, the promotion caught my attention. I can report from my own household that the kids sometimes need strong encouragement to put down the electronic devices and go outside.

I am guilty, too. Whole workweeks can go by during which my sum total of fresh air and weather awareness comes from rushing out to feed the chickens in the morning, herding the kids into my pickup truck, and walking across the Star parking lot. Feeling guilty perhaps, I park the truck at the farthest end of the lot; that way, I have a few more steps both ways. I did get out a lot more when I used to take one of our dogs to the office most days. Dogs have a way of demanding that — or else.

Earth Day falls on a Friday this year and during a week that the kids are on spring break. I might just take the beer company’s suggestion to heart and pack a picnic and forget about the office for a day. If you need to get in touch with me, I’ll be at the beach.