Happy Earth Day 2017 from all of us here at Xela Pack and Gentile Packaging Machinery. We hope that on this day, and every day of the year, that you’ll join us in advocating for the environment in any and all ways possible.

What does that even mean?

Every year for Earth Day we do something different. As an environmentally conscious company that considers the environment in all that we do, it seems kind of trite to boil it all down to one day. Or at least that’s one way of looking at it. Recently, I started to realize that it’s likely that people who work hard every day to fight for other causes probably appreciate it when the world stops for even a brief second to acknowledge their efforts and concerns.

Last week when we did the first of our two Earth Day Tours with 5th graders from Saline Public Schools, I felt pretty happy afterward. It seemed like these 10 and 11 year old kids were even more aware of environmental concerns than I had imagined or hoped. We discussed how there is no one magic way to solve all environmental issues, but that we should all focus on considering our impact on the environment in all that we do, in order to make progress for future generations. I was sure that the kids “got it”, and that it was worth the effort we put into the event.

Later that day I took a break and glanced at social media. I immediately saw a friend had posted an article with a click-bait headline basically saying that all the little things don’t amount to squat, and that without real systemic change, it was nothing more than “a lie”. After reading the article, I found it was much more balanced than the title implied, and had significant merit. What the author rightfully was proposing, is that conscious consumerism, and everyday environmentally minded choices were great… but on their own it’s just not enough. And you know what? The author is right.

We need to each keep doing everything we can for these small steps, but somebody, somewhere, needs to push it a little further. And it’s going to take more than one of us.

I’m happy we took the time to invite these 5th graders from Saline Schools to our facility to learn about the environment and give them some perspective on how companies and consumers can make more environmentally conscious decisions on a daily basis to minimize our impact on the environment. I know that this alone isn’t enough to reverse negative environmental trends in this country and abroad. But maybe somewhere in that group there is a kid who is looking for a way to make the world a better place that also has a keen sense of science and math and might just be the next great environmental thinker, inventor, politician or advocate?

I was impressed by the kids that visited our facility. I was impressed by the questions they asked and the answers they gave. I was impressed by their willingness to learn and by the wide-eyed optimism many of them still seem to enjoy.

So this year, we’ll be asking ourselves what more we can do to be better advocates for the environment both here at work, and in our personal lives. And I’ll be thinking about that next great inventor, scientist, environmental advocate… wherever they might be. And hoping that as more people embrace the small steps we can take, those great thinkers will step up and work together for the larger steps that are so badly needed in order for real change to occur.