Earth Day 2021

Last Thursday was the fifty-first Earth Day. Pope Francis was invited to speak at two Earth Day events; the international climate summit hosted by President Biden and the Earth Day Live event organized by the Earth Day Network. In both presentations, the Holy Father urged world leaders to act to create “a just, equitable, environmentally safe planet.”

At the Earth Day Live event, Pope Francis said:

Time urges us, and as COVID-19 demonstrated, we do have the tools to face the loss. We have the instruments. This is the moment to act. We are at the edge.

And later at the world leader summit, he said:

We need to ensure that the environment is cleaner, purer and that it is conserved. We must care for nature so that nature may care for us.

Also, at the summit, President Biden committed the USA to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% (of 2005 levels) by 2030. Now, it’s time to back up that promise with action!

Earth Day 2021 Cleanup Crew

The Earth Day crew about to embark on their amazing cleanup.

At St John the Evangelist in Seattle, the Saint Francis of Assisi ministry organized a neighborhood cleanup event on the morning of Saturday, April 24th. Eighteen of us, decked out in masks and gloves, trekked up to 85th Street and picked up garbage in the rain. The most common piece of garbage collected by the crew: cigarette butts! The most interesting pieces of garbage: jewelry and a set of googly eyes. I estimate we picked up over 3,000 cigarette butts plus dozens and dozens of plastic bottles, cans, cash register receipts, bits of plastic, and miscellaneous trash. 

The googly eyes.

The area between Greenwood Avenue and 3rd Avenue and between 85th and 86th streets has never looked so clean. But it’s not just about looks; when garbage is thrown into the street, it often ends up in storm drains which means that it eventually makes its way to Elliot Bay. And items like cigarette butts contain a lot of toxins; as I wrote about back in October (see To quote one of our participants, “Collaborative action has synergistic energy in changing our understanding and capabilities.” Thanks Declan, Angelica, Tyler, Jesse, Xavier, Sebastian, Bill, Sheila, Sara, Myers, Joe, Jim, Helen, Cade, Michael, Suzanna, and Paul (apologies if I missed anyone) and the countless others who extended a little extra love to our beloved planet this Earth Day!

Working together, we can help take care of our common home. 

Paul Litwin

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