The Hummer and the Butterfly

28 07 2011
Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

The tiger swallowtails are out.

They are floating, sometimes recklessly, sometimes purposefully, their yellow bright against the blazing skies of July. They cross our 21st century byways, but they are just passing through our chronology. Theirs is an evolutionary time and place, one built – as layers of sand become the shore –  tiny life by tiny life.

Watching them, I can feel the simplicity of that life, if only for a tiny moment.

Then, one floats between me and the yellow Hummer in front of me. Its license plate reads, “Our Farms, Our Future.” Behind me, the couple smokes, his Bluetooth on, her tailgating mindlessly.

We are also in an evolutionary timeline. Which will predominate – the Hummer or the Butterfly? The moment or the mindless?

We can tell ourselves that one person cannot influence such monumental forces as evolution. I say, it depends what is evolving, and what we want to come of it.

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Thanks All Around

24 11 2010
The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

Image via Wikipedia

This Thanksgiving, you may or may not be looking for some new things for which to be thankful around your table. Whichever the case, allow me to suggest that we can be thankful:

  • That nature is resilient. With all of the scary things we’ve done to it over the centuries, nature still filters our water, produces our oxygen, and takes our breath away with beautiful sights.
  • That we’ve come a long way. Since the beginning of the environmental movement, we’ve risen to the challenges of learning to recycle, slowing ozone loss, and conserving shrinking habitats. Things could be a lot worse, and there is reason to hope that they can get even better.
  • That God provides. No matter what your situation in life, the natural world can and does sustain you and comfort you, giving both literal and figurative nourishment.

And lastly . . .

  • That you’re not a pilgrim. Life was super hard back then, and even in dire circumstances, at least we don’t have to contend with wolves and angry natives as we prepare our harvest feast.

Enjoy the earth’s bounty this Thanksgiving!





Green 2.0: Cultivating Memories

24 09 2010
Panorama of the Iguazu waterfalls from Bresil

Image via Wikipedia

We can re-write history. Of course, we cannot change what has happened in our lives, but we can cultivate the good by cherishing those memories and keeping their spirit alive. We can do this by seeking similar experiences.

Do you have a memory – perhaps related to your simplest pleasures – of a blissful or interesting nature experience? I use both words because if you don’t feel easily drawn to nature, you may not have had a blissful experience, but you surely had an interesting one along the way. You can transform even a somewhat negative experience – like being lost and scared in the woods – by focusing on the interesting aspects of it. Were there mysterious sounds? Intriguing smells? Did following your curiosity get you lost in the first place? Recapture what led you there.

Research shows that people who grow up to feel passionate about conserving nature tend to have had a transformative childhood experience outdoors. In other words, they had a moment of wonder and awe, of feeling impressed by the beauty, wholeness and vastness of the world. If you can dig into your past and remember a time you felt this, you can seek out these experiences again. If you never had a chance, go seek it now. Simply be outside, be open, and awe will find you.

I support you in your adventure!





EcoCaching

15 09 2010
Geocache used in the Geocaching sport.

Image via Wikipedia

That’s right, eco. This new type of geocaching highlights the features of a location to inspire conservation awareness among explorers. Each ecocache, or buried container located using a GPS device,  contains a description of the site’s importance and an object symbolic of the area. It may even contain instructions for an interactive, ec0-activity. This website, with amusing translation into English (“box made of glass because of rodent”), explains the basics.

It sounds like a great twist to an exciting hobby that’s growing all the time – an estimated 5 million people in the U.S. participate. To get started geocaching or to find locations near you, go to the clearinghouse website: Geochaching.com. And let me know what’s in the box, if you do.





Green 2.0: Learning to See, Part 1

13 09 2010
Window cleaner at work

Image via Wikipedia

What I’m about to write will insult some of you with its simplicity. It would probably insult me, to be honest. But don’t worry – I have a plan, and this is the first step. I’ll also be doing this with you, because everyone can benefit.

If you want to reconnect with nature, start by looking out of the nearest window. Really look. For as long as you can, at everything you can see. This is the first step to seeing your environment – the one you live in, every day.

I know some of you are probably saying, “my window shows the window next door [or brick wall, or commercial dumpster]. How does this teach me about my environment?” (By the way, I’ve been there!)

Sometimes we get up each morning and walk outside and drive away without even looking at what lies around our front door. Seeing what is there, and recognizing how it makes you feel, is a great first step to observing your world and learning what environments bring you joy.

Whether in the city or the country or the many places in between, look out all of your windows today. How does what you see make you feel? What thoughts come to mind? Are they pleasant? What can you do to make the view better? Where can you go to see more of the aspects you enjoy?

Maybe you can go right outside that window. That’s what we’ll discuss next.





Potential Pet Problems

17 01 2009

I may be embarking on a highly controversial topic here, but have you considered the most eco-friendly ways to approach pet ownership? In our consumer culture, we are often suprised to find that certain problems even exist as a result of common behaviors. Take your pet’s poop, for instance; I never thought that having too many pets could contribute to landfill and water contamination issues–until I read this article by Sheryl Eisenberg of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She explores the delicate issue of poop disposal for dogs and cats. The bottom line? Trash disposal is best, but if you leave the waste on the ground, it’s best to keep it to your own yard–and to keep the pet population to a minimum.





Recyling water filters

17 01 2009

After much petitioning, a grassroots campaign has succeeded in persuading Brita water filtration company to provide a recycling program for their plastic water filters. Go here to learn more, and go here to refill your own! (Thanks IdealBite!)








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