Just as these flower petals are spreading open, is it possible for my arms to fully open to life, to our environment? In contemplating Arbor Day as well as Earth Day this month, this is my question.
It seems no accident to me that these two days are so near one another on the calendar. Each of them celebrate environmental causes in the effort to make earth a better place for all of us.
I was surprised to learn that the first Arbor Day was so long ago (1872) in Nebraska. It was estimated that over one million trees were planted that day! Now, it is a national holiday encouraging tree planting and litter collecting. Participating in these activities is as opening our arms to care for our environment.
It was good to know many other countries have similar holidays. Spain’s Festival of Trees was first started in 1896. Greenery Day is Japan’s version of Arbor Day. It began in 1989. North Macedonia started Tree Day – Plant Your Future in 2008, largely because of wildfire destruction of many of their forests. These are just a few.
During the era I attribute to the hippy generation, Earth Day first started. This 1970 effort drew attention to environmental issues and pollution. It is now a holiday in 192 countries. Some of the activities promoted during Earth Day are recycling, utilizing reusable stainless steel water bottles, planting gardens, stopping single use plastics, eating less meat, etc. Once again, this is open handed generosity to better our living environment.
Many Earth Day activities remind me of a slogan that was popular during the 1940’s. It was Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do or do without. I recall my dad mentioning this saying. This represented the U.S. wartime effort to encourage conserving valuable commodities for the military during WWII. Somehow, this slogan reminds me of a certain young lady who has created a worldwide name for herself. She epitomizes this saying with her life.
Greta Thunberg is open to life!
Swedish born Greta Thunberg is this young powerhouse spokesperson. When I consider how she has successfully overcome such tremendous personal challenges, I find her all the more amazing! She has, in fact, called her differences (from Asperger’s syndrome) her superpower! It does, after all, enable her to hyper focus on what is most important. Her extreme expertise on climate change staggers the imagination. Thanks to interviews of numerous experts, she fully understands the impact of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) in regards to energy production, farming practices, clothing industry, modes of travel, forestry, human and wildlife populations, etc. Her modest message is not that people listen to her, but to science. She stresses the urgency of our action.
That comes down to me. What can I do? How could I do better in embracing our earth?
In Sweden, many of their foods are labeled with carbon footprint labels to inform the consumer how much harm to the environment occurred during the product’s production and transportation. https://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/carbon-labelling-policies/
What can I do without this labeling? USA food labels list where the food was produced. We do get a good amount of our food locally, i.e. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) as well as a bit of home grown produce. There are, of course, many items which are not. Some of our food is much more well-traveled than me. I could be more careful in label reading.
I know there are people who do not use single use plastic. Just going to the grocery, there are quite a number of products which have plastic jars, bottles or wrap.
It rather puts me in the mind of the movie, The Graduate. The character, McGuire, advises Ben, “there’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”
Believe me, I have thought about plastics. I do try, but just a search of our home lets me know I have a few dried out markers (plastic), nearly empty art point tubes (plastic), and the afore mentioned food products encased in plastic, many of which are not recyclable. I must be more aware before I purchase products.
While Greta was touring the US, she felt the call to go to a conference across the world. Rather than flying, which makes a much larger carbon footprint, she traveled by boat. This took far longer and made her extremely seasick. However, she upheld her principles. I cannot say I’ve never flown. My car is not electric. However, I guess I can say, I do put very few miles on my vehicle.
When it comes to clothing, Greta does not like people to gift her new clothing. She points out that many of her garments have well-worn holes. I honestly can’t say that sounds like me. However, I guess I have repaired a number of items so that I extended the life expectancy. I know I can do better.
Greta interviewed forestry scientists. I was amazed to hear climate change statistics of one to two degree increases beginning to decimate forests and to melt ice formations. This in turn is starting the demise of populations of wildlife as well as people. More trees need to be planted. Carbon footprints must be more tightly curtailed.
It is about me, but also you!
I have helped plant a number of trees in my life, but not many recently. So, now, what I can do is to go for a walk in our lovely evergreen windbreak. My husband, our children and I planted it twenty-nine years ago. It is wonderful to appreciate trees as a perch for the melodious birds, a shelter for the silent deer, and a home for creatures great and small. I can sit at the base of my favorite maple tree and contemplate how I can better open my arms wide to support life on this planet. Then, I can turn around and hug my tree. I will take a deep inhale of fresh tree produced oxygen and say thank-you. Most of all, I am ever grateful for the marvelous, life-sustaining nature of this planet. May all of us open our arms to life!