“Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”—Anonymous
Oh…Mother earth. What are we doing? In our quest to be more efficient, more productive, we are sapping our planet and are on a course to self-destruction. This cannot be denied. Numerous scientists point to the evidence of greenhouse gases and the effect that we— you and me— are having on our planet, the place we leave for our future generations. We read lists of things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, and then walk into our local convenience store and buy a plastic bottle of soda or water. We let the water run while we brush our teeth. We take luxurious twenty-minute showers. We drive large SUVs that suck large quantities of gasoline. We say we care, but do we really? Do we do everything we can to prevent the wasting of this beautiful planet of ours?
We must walk with love. Each step, each moonrise.
Walking with love means picking up a piece of litter and placing it in the trash. It means recycling everything you can, and also being aware of your impact on the earth. It means conserving water, fuel, and electricity. We can’t change others actions but we can change our own.
“Mother Earth is not a resource, she is an heirloom.”—David Ipina, Yurok
Earth is our home and garden, and as we care for our homes and gardens, we must also care for Earth. It is not meant to be used as a resource than can be discarded for profit, desire or excessive need. The earth is a beautiful garden that we must tend to. We have a responsibility to preserve our planet, to do MORE. This includes disposing of our waste properly, whether it is oils, paints, chemicals, tires, medicines, or everyday trash. We have a responsibility to compost, to keep as much as possible out of landfills or we will live in Wall-e World, devoid of life and light and air. Sound extreme? It’s not.
Some may justify our sapping of our planet to feed more people. But this excuse is a flimsy veil to hide our cumulative greed. Pope Francis has much to say on this topic.
“The exploitation of the planet has already exceeded acceptable limits and we still have not solved the problem of poverty.”
He is outspoken on the desperate need for us to pay attention and act now.
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”—Papal encyclical, Vatican City, May 24, 2015
So what is a busy person to do? How can we make a difference without being incredibly inconvenienced? It’s easier than you might think. There are simple changes you can make that will reduce your carbon footprint and make the earth a little greener. Literally.
First you must consider this:
Americans make up five percent of the world’s population, own 30 percent of the world’s cars, and consume 25 percent of the world’s energy. By their first birthday, the average American will be responsible for more carbon dioxide emissions than a person in Tanzania generates in a lifetime. —National Geographic
Just let that sink in for a minute. Consider carbon dioxide emissions resulting from electricity use, billions of pounds of garbage and trillions of gallons of sewage and you have a supersized serving of world-killing poisons.
Now let’s act. Together. Make a commitment to help preserve our planet. Love it with all that you are. God created this wonderful green space for us to live and breathe and rejoice. It is our obligation to protect it as if it were our child.
Here’s what you can do:
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. If you only do one thing. Do this.
- Turn off the lights.
- Turn off the TV.
- Turn off the faucet. Make it a habit. Water is a precious resource. Treat it that way.
- Don’t waste food. Have leftover night one day a week. Make it a buffet. Use what you have.
- Buy energy star rated light bulbs. You can find them just about everywhere and by using them you save money as well as saving energy. You can learn all about them here: http://www.energystar.gov/products/lighting_fans/light_bulbs
- Make a commitment to not buy plastic bottled anything. Use a reusable container. This one small thing makes a huge impact.
- Stay away from Styrofoam. It takes 1 million years to decompose. No joke.
- Buying local foods really does help. If it takes 12,000 miles to get your oranges to you (nghumanfootprint.com) is it really worth it? Try shopping your local farmers market for year round foods.
- Eating meatless even once a week will reduce your carbon footprint on our earth. You can find lots of great meatless meals on our Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/catholiccharnh/
- Volunteer to clean up trash on the beach, or simply walk down your road with a trash bag and pick up litter. Do it with your children. Teach them that we must take care of our earth.
- Cities have special disposal days for paints, chemicals and oils. Take care to call your town clerk and post it on your calendar. Then act on it!
- Take a bus, or carpool. One less car on the road makes an impact.
- Longer term, bigger impact: Create an energy efficient home. You will reduce the use of fossil fuels thus reducing your carbon footprint.
- Believe you can make a difference. It’s up to you!
Just imagine if we all did this for our planet. What would our garden look like? Instead of ravaged soil and polluted seas, it would flourish and provide for our great great great-grandchildren. We must walk lightly on the Earth, leaving it better than we found it. Consider this when throwing your trash away.
Time line for decomposing:
- Banana Peel: 3-4 weeks
- Paper Bag: 1 month
- Cardboard: 2 months
- Wool Sock: 1 year
- Tinned Steel Can: 50 years
- Aluminum Can: 200-500 years (But if recycled, it can be reused within 6 weeks!)
- Disposable Diapers: 550 years
- Plastic Bags : 20-1,000 years
- Plastic Jug: 1 million years
- Glass: 1-2 million years
- Styrofoam: 1+ million years
The most important thing to realize is that YOU can make a difference. We know how much of an impact we have on another when we give them love, support, nurturing, care. We can see it. The same holds true with a flower garden, it can be a thing of breathtaking beauty if we give it our time and attention. What if, just imagine, if we all did this for our planet?