A good planet is hard to find
by Richard Downes
o, have we considered our lifestyle's impact on nature today? This is hardly tops on our to-do list. Who even thinks our lifestyle is connected to nature anymore?
Nature is all we have, of course. No where else can we find resources for all the comfort and convenience we enjoy. One would think nature's well being would be our highest priority. We are an odd society, though. Nature limps along, trying to withstand our onslaught, while we pretend nothing is wrong. The last thing we want to do is assume responsibility ourselves.
Try this some time: Walk up to the counter of your favorite cafe, order a bagel or a muffin, and ask for no paper doily on the plate. Now, saying that out loud, in public, is different. You'll save a lot of paper doilies... maybe a thirty-seventh of a tree. Yet, some smart aleck server is sure to call out, Bagel ... no paper doily on the plate! nice and loud when the order's ready. It's a crowd-pleaser.NT>
Then again, thirty-six other people asking for no paper doilies on their plates, and maybe a whole tree can be saved... plus the logging road leading to the tree, the erosion into a stream caused by the logging road, and all the milling, bleaching, and energy it takes to turn a big tree into a lot of silly paper doilies.
Sends chills down the spine, doesn't it?
It's not just paper doilies, though. Doily is simply a fun word to write. Stacks of unused paper napkins are left behind on cafe tables around the land. People will not carrying cotton bags around while they shop. Paper or plastic? No thanks; canvas will do... then slap those babies down. How about paper plates, disposable diapers, coffee shop jelly served in throwaway plastic containers with only a dollop of jelly inside. What happened to a glass full of jam with a spoon sticking out the top? NT>
Does all this seem bizarre? It's something to wrestle with for awhile. Can one person improve society's relationship with nature by making better choices in their everyday lifestyle?
Sure. The relationship is created one person at a time. Improvement comes the same way. Deforestation, endangered species, global warming, overwhelmed landfills... the routine choices we all make at home, work, and play add up to these scary travesties. It would be interesting to see what would happen if these same choices were made with nature's well being in mind.
That's a lot of paper doilies, shopping bags, and jelly containers saved; a lot of oxygen-producing, life spawning trees left standing; less petroleum to be pumped, imported, and spilled; fewer pristine canyons and lush woodlands turned into nasty old landfills.
Yet, we are hooked on the convenience, wasteful routine, fast-pace, and profit that cause these quandaries. The challenge is to balance this appetite with the kind of willpower and self-discipline that nurture an environmental conscience.
It is time to find out if we are up to the task. This does not need to be done all at once. By conserving a doily here, a napkin there, recycling more ... we allow our environmental conscience to grow on its own, inspired by how surprisingly great these choices feel. This is not just about saving nature. Doing positive things creates inner meaning, and that is not easy to find these days. We are meant to care for nature. Convenience and a fast pace pale in comparison to this kind of gratification.
The idea may even become fashionable, and we will start saving doilies, napkins, bags, and jelly containers right-and-left. Multiply that by a few hundred million, and a lot of healing will get done.
It does not matter whether it is a corporate decision to clear-cut the side of a mountain, or people enjoying the paper doilies, napkins, plates, and profits, that make the decision inevitable. Environmental wounds will be healed only when nature's well being is part of our everyday lifestyle. A good planet is hard to find. So far, ours is the only good one around.
Richard Downes writing focuses on environmental commentary and POW/MIA affairs. Several of his essays have appeared locally. A few years ago, he established Nimble Hill Productions, which develops media projects that creatively link our lifestyle with its influences in nature. Nimble Hill has produced a series of public service announcements on non-point source pollution with the state of New Hampshire. au231mail.lafn.org.