We are losing around 200 species per day.
Thank you for taking action. Although our situation is scary, ignoring it is scarier. Since we are all consumers, let’s not point fingers. Instead, let’s evolve together into less consumptive lifestyles and support each other along the way. We need to give ourselves, our neighbors, and our kids grace as we work together to continue the learning process, stay connected, engaged, and focused to overcome the biggest threat humanity has ever faced—protecting the planet to save ourselves. Now is the perfect time to act since so many things are changing anyhow, how about implementing really thoughtful changes that have long-term positive impacts?
Are we destined to just sit and meditate all day and try not to eat or drink? This is clearly not acceptable to most of us. But the important thing to remember is that no one can do everything, but every individual can do something. Your job is to figure out where your talents are and do what you can do. Because if we all chip in a little, our combined efforts can result in massive and much needed shifts. The heart of the environmental crisis comes down to population pressures and excess consumption. We need to be laser-focused on stabilizing population growth and reducing consumption of all resources.
- Stabilize population growth. This is a tough topic to approach because absolutely no one wants to be told how to govern their own bodies. However, it has been shown that giving women (especially in developing countries) educational opportunities is directly related to prosperity and having fewer children. Can you support educating women locally or internationally?
- Reduce purchases. What can you borrow, rent, buy second hand? Ask yourself how much is enough? Does your home really need to reflect the latest trends and styles and need to resemble a Pottery Barn catalog?
- Reduce packaging. Do you really need single-serve packaged grocery items? Eat fresh food that comes in nature’s packaging whenever possible. Look for innovative products that don’t require plastic packaging such as tablet toothpaste, bar soap/shampoo, powder laundry detergent in reusable containers. Demand retailers to do better with packaging. Why can’t more grocery stores offer bulk alternatives? Why do we need a new plastic bottle each time we buy shampoo?
- Reuse. If you are done with an item, find a new home for it via OfferUp, Facebook, Craigslist or many other online tools.
- Recycle. Hopefully, since you’ve already reduced and reused so you have little to recycle. Although recycling is better than throwing away, it still is energy intensive and consumes resources.
- Compost. All organic material such as vegetable peels and yard waste contain valuable nutrients that should not be squandered.
- Don’t waste food. A lot of energy was made to grow, process, ship, store, and cook your food. Don’t let all that energy and water go to waste!
- Eat a plant-based diet/lower on the food chain. As Wendell Berry famously said, “Eating is an agricultural act. It is also an ecological act, and a political act, too. Though much has been done to obscure this simple fact, how and what we eat determines to a great extent the use we make of the world—and what is to become of it.” To make sense of this statement, consider that 60% of the world’s mammals are livestock (largely to feed humans), 36% of the world’s mammals are humans, which leaves only 4% of the world’s mammals to be wild mammals. (The Guardian, May 2018) These numbers reflect our land use and that much of the Earth has been cleared for urban people spaces or grazing areas for livestock to feed people. Wild spaces are diminishing rapidly.
- Grow (some of) your own food or buy from local farmers’ markets where the food hasn’t traveled more than 75 miles or so. If you’re not a gardener, plant apple trees, raspberry, and blueberry bushes instead of traditional landscape plants. If you don’t have a yard, support those markets and/or grow some greens in your windowsill.
- Plant native flowers. The flowers will support the bees that will pollinate your fruits and vegetable gardens. Visit https://bwsr.state.mn.us/lawns-legumes to find out about grants and BlueThumb.org for how-to information.
- Continue meeting or working remotely. How many of those meetings really need to be face-to-face? If you have a desk job, work with your employer to continue working from home even after this COVID-19 issue dies down.
- Get outside and enjoy the nature around you! The beauty around us still abounds. Look for it. Notice it. Teach your kids to connect with it. Walk. Ride your bike. Turn your community into a walkable “livable” community. We are fortunate to have natural resources to enjoy and protect. Let’s keep it that way.