For most of my life I’ve been an environmentalist whether I was conscious of it or not. It’s an instinctive feeling that I can’t deny. I’ve always felt a reverence for all things in the natural world around me.
In the days before the internet and endless television shows, there was always time to be outside searching for discoveries and adventure. The natural world was when I learned about myself and could live in authenticity. It’s where I could be honest with feelings and find confidence in my natural abilities and powers.
I grew up in the nineteen seventies when we were just beginning to realize that the planet was in trouble. Polluted rivers, lakes, and airways were commonplace, and in the summer heavy smog and yellow tinted skies were the norm. Rivers caught on fire and the air could be hard to breathe. Hazardous waste had permeated many of our communities, and littering was mostly ignored. It was a different time, the “me generation”, and the common good was often selfishly ignored. After years of relentless progress, consumerism had fully permeated our lives. Our economy was increasingly creating more junk, disposing of junk, and creating more.
Despite the grim picture there are many humans who cared and understood the importance of being stewards for the earth. People who have genuine interest in the lives of future generations. They knew that there was only one earth for all of its living creatures. They knew that it must be preserved.
I grew up in the woods beside a stream valley and forest. It wasn’t pristine, but it was relatively free of other humans and to me and my German shepherd Gretchen, it was paradise. Civilization and scraps of trash had penetrated its borders, but it stimulated my imagination and gave us great joy. It was my refuge and a place where I could stand in silence. It gave me an appreciation for nature and a love for the planet. It’s where I could be with my dog and understand her better.
As The Happiness Warrior, I care very deeply about the health of the planet and the quality of life and happiness for everyone. There is no backup plan, and time and its effects are rapid. We’re not going to Mars anytime soon, and there are eight billion of us to prove it.
Like it or not, this beautiful planet is our only home. Why do we treat it so poorly and put it under so much pressure? In our self-imposed ignorance we are killing the world around us and ignoring the truths that confront us.
Nature has a way of telling us without warning and we have a way of listening when it’s too late. We can’t hide forever and there’s much we can do for now and the future. No matter how hard some of us don’t want to face the truth, this is our home and refuge.
My Uncle Mac wasn’t really my uncle, but my favorite Aunt’s second husband. He came into my life when I was a teen at a time when I was questioning my identity and my future. He knew who I was without any shame or judgment. We wrote long letters to each other and the only adult I trusted. He helped me learn about myself and be proud of who I was. He was someone I relied on to make me feel like my life was okay. His letters reassured me and made me feel like I could do anything.
The thing I admired most about Mac besides his intellect and empathy was his passion for the environment. It was his guidance and influence that helped create my environmentalist mindset. He was radical in his views at the time, but I knew he spoke and lived in his truth. He taught me to care about his impact and live according to my intention.
He was an avid and passionate environmentalist and devoted much of his life to making positive changes in our natural environment and living patterns. He turned me on to many causes and movements that I still support to this day. He cared about the planet, and trees, and made me aware of the footprint that I left behind. I learned to love the silence and sounds of nature. I still feel a need to hug trees.
LITTER IS TRASHY
Early every morning just as the sun comes up I take my dogs for a peaceful walk. It’s their time and I’m just along to make sure they’re safe and watched out for. They search and sniff and sometimes look for trouble. They are in tune with their environment and fully aligned with their intention and purpose. They are dogs doing their thing and I feel happy only to be saddened by careless discarded trash interspersed on our streets and sidewalks. Broken bottles, fast food wrappers, everything we could think of including used diapers. It’s heartbreaking amidst so much natural beauty. A reality that has no purpose or value.
As much as I want to be angry I try to be understanding. Good behavior is taught from the example of others. Every day I tell myself that I can be better. Why can’t we do better ourselves? Why do we care so little about our impact on others and our personal trash? To live in trash willfully is a gross act, let’s show the world that we can do better.
We can be better stewards for the earth when we understand the power of one to create a movement. As individuals our actions always have purpose, and our influence can be great. Why not create a better home that we can live in? There’s a solution that lies within all of us.
HOW WE CAN DO BETTER
What we can do to be better in our own lives starting today:
1. Compost at home, many cities are now offering curbside compost pick up along with recyclables. It’s estimated that 35 million tons of food waste go to landfills each year or twenty percent of total landfill volume.
2. Conserve water and replace old wasteful appliances and toilets. Savings to the consumer as well with less water usage, less wastewater, and power consumption. Our culture of waste is changing, be an example for your own community.
3. Recycle and sort household trash. This can reduce our individual part of the equation enormously.
4. Consider buying higher quality clothing that will last for years rather than cheap throw-away “fashion”. Make a better impression, be a trendsetter, and know that you are a part of the solution.
5. Discontinue one use of plastics as much as possible. Plastic accounts for as much as 15-20 percent of landfill volume. There are many advances and innovations to solve this problem. In the United States less than 10% of our plastic is recycled.
6. Pick up trash when possible to do so. Just a few minutes a day can make a huge impact on the world around us. I pick up small pieces of plastic and candy wrappers with my dog’s waste bag. A perfect way to raise consciousness and vibration. Leaving a gentle footprint is how we raise our vibration.
ENVIRONMENTALISTS MAKE THE WORLD BETTER
Everyone wants a clean house and places to play and socialize. It’s not hard to help and make our own corner of the world happier and healthier. We can Create the world of our dreams and know that we are happier when we:
1. Are conscious of the benefits of learning to recycle and reuse. Disposable items don’t disappear. There are more and more products available that can help us remove single use plastics from our lives. For example, laundry detergent sheets that dissolve and activate. No more clunky and heavy plastic jugs to dispose of.
2. Clean up after ourselves and leave a gentle footprint. Littering is the path to an unhappier life with lower vibration and less connection with others. A cigarette butt casually tossed on the street is disrespectful as well as tactless. Actions have consequences and karma has a way of finding its way back.
3. We can love ourselves better when our love and respect for our planet and surroundings grow. Actions have consequences, good or bad.
4. True friendships grow when we are united with others who care about the environment. Working for the common good brings us together at all levels and creates more social equity. We all deserve healthy places to live and express ourselves fully.
5. When our respect for the earth grows, we create more self-respect and confidence in ourselves.
6. We are respectful of others and treatment of our surroundings.
7. Grateful for the beauty of our surroundings. Just one small green space can be enough to change our mood and lighten our spirit.
8. Practice empathy for those who need help and a change of perspective. Hating someone who litters is not the way to change someone’s mind. Perspective is everything and we are more likely to help by leading the way.
The best way to remember Earth Day is to wake up every day grateful to spend another day on our beautiful planet. Gratitude is the key to so many positive outcomes and behaviors. We can care about the planet and reinvent our happiness. We can imagine the world as we’d like to see it and make it happen in our actions and dreams. Let’s be kinder to ourselves and show our love for Mother Earth!