Thursday, April 21

On being an... "Environmentalist?!"

Eight years ago, when Jason & I were just starting to become good friends, we volunteered to put away our high school's track equipment at the end of the season.

17-year-old Jason lifted a sheet of plywood off the turf, revealing an underside caked with grass, dirt, and earthworms writhing in confusion*.
*("But April, they don't have brains!" ...Yeah, yeah.)

A teammate approached the plywood to scrape off the dirt with a sharp, glinting shovel. I dramatically threw my 16-year-old self in his path.




"WAAAAIT!!! The WORMS," I pled, as I started plucking them off of the wood.

Jason, who had done a fairly good job of avoiding "politics" & the like in his seventeen years, looked at me with wonder, fascination, and excitement.

"I've never been friends with an Environmentalist before!"

Ohhh, wee Jason.
***

It was funny then, and it's even funnier now. But to this day, I wonder if I know what being an environmentalist means. Am I one?

I wholeheartedly believe the sentiment, "Man is merely a strand in the web of life. What he does to it, he does to himself."

Combine that with us humans understanding, maybe, 1% of the global ecosystem and our affects on it-- and hoooo, boy, I get a little nervous.

Yet almost no matter what humans do to the planet, even if we make ourselves extinct, other species will adapt and survive. The new world that we've created will go on without us. We will have done it to ourselves, and that's that.

Sometimes, I honestly think: What does it matter if we kill ourselves off or not? If we go extinct, then we won't be around to be sad about it! Why care?

But as I'm typing this (gosh this is going to sound cliche), I hear kids laughing outside. Really little kids, with happy squeaky voices. And they remind me of yet another hippie bumper-sticker quote:
We don't inherit the Earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from our children.
Life is wonderful. Earth is wonderful. For goodness' sake, look at this &*^$ ladybug. WONDERFUL.
Nature's propaganda at its finest.
Let's stop poisoning our planet; let's stop poisoning ourselves. We really are, and we really need to knock it off. Let's respect our future generations.

Enjoy celebrating Earth Day tomorrow ♥


P.S. This subject is one of my greatest passions in life. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on any of the following: 
  • What's your favorite way to not screw up the planet? 
  • What's your stance on conservationism? 
  • What's your favorite way to enjoy nature? 
  • Did you write an Earth Day post, or enjoy someone else's? What's the link?

Let's have a little hippie convention, amigos.
[ladybug photo cred] 

9 comments:

Lindsay said...

1. I do not buy bottled water, and try to avoid as much plastic as possible. Bottled water = biggest load of crap I've ever heard.

2. Go green or die. Not only is it cheaper on you as a person, but it's cheaper on the entire planet.

3. Hiking is the best way to really see what nature has to offer. You can't really experience anything from a car. You can't appreciate the wonder that is life and nature as you zoom past in a Hummer.

By the way, your blog is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

April said...

Hi, Lindsay! (I thought I was following you but apparently I haven't been...? I have so much P.A. to catch up on!)

Love your answers! I know I'm preaching to the choir, but have you seen this video about bottled water? Eeeep.

Kristie said...

Gorgeous photo! Ah, you've hit on one of my very favorite topics :) Every once in a while I have to assure myself with the "even if we go extinct, something will survive" line, but that honestly gets depressing pretty fast (both for people and nature).

1a) My feeling is that "reduce, reuse, recycle" is written in order of environmental importance. Reduce energy usage (bike, mass transit, lay off the thermostat), reduce water usage (wear clothes and use dishes more than once before washing), buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste, and so on.
Reuse is the best-- buy everything thrifted! Use plastic bags from sliced bread as produce and lunch bags. Every time you think of some crazy new use for something, you'll get excited.
Recycle is the least efficient of these, but still important-- especially recycling at home by composting, crafting and upcycling materials to make new stuff.

1b) The second major move for me is being vegan (but not just vegan-- an environmentally, socially conscious locavore. Complicated!). Agriculture in general has hugely detrimental effects on the environment, and animal agriculture is among the worst in so many ways (yes, even dairy is pretty horrible for the planet). If you're interested, the UN put out a report with all of the nasty numbers in it. From what I've found, it's one of the most effective personal lifestyle choices one can make for the planet. Plus cashew cheese is sooo goood!

2) As for my stance on conservationism, I personally believe that human rights and environmentalism are inextricably (and positively) linked, and to address one must be to address the other, or else you are missing a big part of the picture.

3) And my favorite way to enjoy nature is to just get out and be in it. Explore, wander, travel, sleep out in it. I'm always astounded by how much life surrounds me, how many tiny universes exist for each living thing I encounter. This is why I get up each morning.

4) I think I practically just wrote a blog post of my own here. Oops.

Let's hear your answers too, April!

Married In Chicago said...

Great post! This is definitely an area I wish I was better on. I don't buy bottled water and I've gone "paperless" with everything that I can - but I'm not very good at recycling. I get frustrated when I hear awful statistics about how Chicago doesn't really recycle things and it makes it hard to get motivated. Growing up we had a compost in our garden and that is something I'd like to do, if we ever have a house with a backyard! But, I'm not so sure if that is good for the environment or just good for the garden :)

April said...

Kristie-- I was hoping to hear from you! You are the QUEEN of reduce, reuse, recycle... considering you once showed up to class with your lunch in a DUCT-TAPE-REPAIRED PAPER BAG. Love it.

And you completely inspire me with your basically planet-perfect diet. What better way to respect the earth that by choosing what you fuel your body with? Also-- I'll think about my answers and post them a little later : )

MiC-- like Kristie said, recycling IS important, but what's even more important are reducing what you use/buy and reusing it when you do (i.e. using washcloths instead of paper towels). I understand what you mean about feeling discouraged, but it has to start with a small number of people at some point, right?

Markie said...

I'm so glad that you love worms! I LOVE LOVE LOVE worms. I save them whenever I see one writhing on the sidewalk. And I may or may not also talk to them while I am saving them from being stepped on. They are the coolest.

Okay, so, now for the questions:

1.) Of course, recycling. We recycle everything we can. We eat as much organically as possible. I don't eat food with fillers (because I'm allergic to all of them. HA!). I am going on this "buy local" kick this spring and summer. So fun to support your local economy! Also, I help out with a non-profit called Plant With Purpose (http://www.plantwithpurpose.org/)

2.) I believe that we are called to be good "stewards" of our planet - Neither lording ourselves over it, nor letting it lord over us. Instead, I believe we should try to live in balance with the world around us. We should do everything we can do to make sure that we let the environments around us do what they were created to do!

3.) My favorite way to enjoy nature is probably exploring. And eating.

I have not written an Earth day post... Maybe I'll link people to yours! :) Or maybe I'll just have to write one myself.

Kristie said...

I still have that duct taped paper bag, it holds my painting supplies :)

Kelley @ Kelley Maria said...

Your worm story reminds me of my worm story, which I've already told you (don't worry I wont type out the whole story again).

That lady buy photo is a.maz.ing

I am not as green or environmentally friendly as I would like to be, but I would love to have a huge vegetable garden someday. I try to eat all natural, organic foods and stay away from boxed foods that have words on the back that I've never heard of and cannot pronounce.

April said...

okay, Kristie, you asked for my answers:

1) I think that my favorite way to 'not screw up the planet' is to reuse everything I can think of, like you mentioned.

Whenever I need something new, I challenge myself to find it at Goodwill first. It's SO much more satisfying when you have to hunt a little bit (and especially when it's basically 90% off! Yessssss.)

2) I try to be environmentally-friendly because a) nature gives me joy I can't get anywhere else, b) I want future generations to experience that same joy, and c) it's a fun challenge. heh.

3) RAFTING : ), painting, photography, hiking, and keeping my eyes, heart, and mind open wherever I go-- there are miracles all around us.

4) Kristie, YOUR comment!! (I seriously might print that out) and also Lindsay's (first commenter's) Earth Day post.