Have you ever wondered how your personal lifestyle impacts the environment? If we hope to instill a love of nature in our children, we must lead by example.
Earth Day is Monday, April 22nd …the perfect time to take stock of our personal ecological footprint and create a list of eco-friendly resolutions. Especially since our New Year’s list has most likely been lost in the shuffle by this time.
Five Easy Ways to Get Started
- Experience Nature - No, I’m not talking about cutting the grass or firing up the grill in the backyard. Take the time to roll up your sleeves, put on your hiking boots and go exploring. Find areas near you to experience the natural world firsthand and learn. It’s human nature to care about things that you know and love. Connect with the parks, preserves and nature centers in your area and discover the cultural and natural history that has helped to shape the place where you live today.
- Share Your Experiences (Past and Present) With Others – As we become more and more technologically advanced, we frequently rely on digital images and information to satisfy our curiosity about the world. However, remember…nothing can take the place of the actual experiences that stimulate our senses, spark our imagination and energize us. Take the time to experience nature wherever you may find it; and share your experiences with others, especially children. Our culture is enriched by the oral histories of people and places that are passed from one generation to the next.
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – I know, I know. No eco-lecture is complete without the three R’s. Beyond the obvious benefits of reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and conserving natural resources, the actual act of recycling is a daily reminder of our responsibility to the environment and the impact of our actions. If I throw even one metal can in with the regular garbage, I immediately feel remorse and imagine it sitting in a massive landfill that future generations will have to clean up.
- Volunteer – Become a steward to your local environment and you’ll get as much as you give. Environmental volunteers participate in a wide range of activities from organized clean-up efforts to wildlife monitoring, habitat restoration and educating others about the natural world. Volunteering not only helps preserve the environment, but it also benefits the volunteers themselves by promoting civic pride, social interaction with like-minded people, personal development and an attachment to a particular place which fosters a general ethic of care for the environment overall.
Learn Something New Every Week – If all else fails and you’ve gone a week without a moment to spare, take fifteen minutes to go on the Internet and learn something new about the environment. The world is filled with amazing wonders that will lift your spirit, broaden your perspective, and hopefully, encourage you to reconsider making time for the first four resolutions. I know you’ll be glad that you did.
Sometimes it seems like the relationship between human activity and the Earth is too complicated for one person’s actions to make a significant difference. I have felt that way many times. But, in the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Happy Earth Day!