With unemployment at an all-time high, it’s difficult for Americans to concentrate on anything besides paying bills, keeping our jobs, and feeding our families. That’s why this Earth Day is a chance to reflect on something else that desperately needs our attention: our dependence on foreign oil, emissions of greenhouse gasses, and creation of chemicals and products that harm our environment. However with the passage of the recent Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we can focus on both—our concerns for the economy and the planet. If the funds from this Act are spent appropriately, we will have an opportunity to address both of these fundamental problems in our society, by creating green jobs that improve our environment and the people in it.
I sighed with relief along with millions of other Americans when I heard that we would see fast results with most of the spending from the Recovery Act occurring over the next two years. At the rate the economy and environment is declining, it is hard to imagine what would happen to the moral and reputation of our country if this continues. However, as we’ve seen in the past, with swift change comes careless mistakes which could mean spending being concentrated on the wrong programs, and jobs not being created for those who need them most. Such mistakes could reverse the huge step in the positive direction that the Administration has taken, and cause further pain to low income populations most hurt from this economic crisis.
In the recent election, we saw the benefits of becoming politically active and campaigning in every possible way to ensure the best leaders were put into office. The danger now lies in thinking that our work has been done and that policies and programs will take effect without us fighting for them to do so. The Recovery Act  offers a never before seen chance to address two of our biggest problems. By campaigning at every level of government, we can ensure that our money is well spent on the appropriate training and policies that will employ millions of Americans, and help our planet.
This Earth Day could not come at a more perfect time. With our planet and economy in peril and the passage of this Act, we need to take swift action. The following are some of the many actions you can take this Earth Day to make sure that the recovery dollars are spent in the best way possible and to create unprecedented change for our environment and economy:
Sign the “I’m Ready” Petition for the Green Energy Corps: By retrofitting more than 15 million buildings, this proposal will create over 600,000 jobs and 4 million service opportunities, reduce global warming and dependence on foreign gas and oil, and lower energy bills for families.
Ask your local official to sign the Local Government Green Jobs Pledge: This pledge encourages local governments to commit to building a green community by creating programs and initiatives that encourage new green job opportunities to help the environment.
Request a meeting or write to your local officials: Write or request a meeting to your local mayor, school leader, or city counsel representative. Let them know your eagerness to support training programs and organizations that address the needs of our economy and environment.
Organize an “I’m Ready” rally: Get members of your community together to show local officials your desire to spend the green recovery funds to better your community and planet. Set a date and time, reach out to news and media to notify them, and create the necessary materials and speech for the event.
Host a house party or meet-up: If you are planning a dinner or housewarming party, have guests make a donation to a local organization in lieu of a housewarming gift. You can also get your neighbors and friends together for a meet-up, where you discuss the Green Recovery, and plan next steps together.
Despite what we’ve heard otherwise, there is hope for our economy. We can lift millions of people out of poverty by creating quality green jobs that will better our planet. On April 22, 2009 make your voice heard, and take action to continue our steps in the right direction to a better climate.