I’ve never been much of an environmentalist. I mean, I do care about our Earth and I think that human beings should work harder not to trash it, but I’ve never been all ‘rah-rah-save-the-planet’. However, I’ve also never really done my part for it, either.
Indeed, when I used to smoke I would just throw my butts on the ground without a care. (To my own credit, I tried for a short period to keep them in the box until I found a garbage can, but they smelled really bad.) Sure, I never threw gobs of trash on the ground (’cause that would be wrong), but I never picked up any litter either. I don’t go out of my way to recycle. I do turn off lights when I leave a room. I don’t turn off the faucet when brushing my teeth or washing the dishes and I take long showers. But I walk, ride my bike, and take public transportation everywhere I go (not that I have a choice because I don’t have a driver’s license).
What I’m trying to say is that I could do better and, I think, as someone who worships our Mother Earth, I should do better.
When I was younger, I wasn’t nearly as complacent as I am now. Back then, I lived in the backwoods of Virginia in the Chesapeake watershed. I remember being in…third grade maybe?…and someone came to our class to give a presentation. The topic was about protecting the environment. When the speaker told us how animals got caught in the beer can rings, I was so upset. An animal in trouble? I sprang into action.
Three friends and I got together and decided that something had to be done. The school didn’t recycle and we thought that having a recycling program would be a good idea. We went to the principal’s office and demanded to see her. The principal saw us and agreed that our school should have a recycling program (I really wish this is how life worked on the regular). We got to go on our school’s closed circuit television program and promote the program and, initially, we were the ones that went from class to class to collect the recyclables on Fridays and so we got to get out of class (bonus!). We even were given certificates by the Mayor’s office at the spring Daffodil festival. It was a great time and I felt so powerful–I could make a difference! Huzzah!
And I loved the outdoors. You couldn’t keep me inside, not even when it rained. I loved to dance in the rain. Back then, rain wasn’t some horrid, cold wet that fell from the sky. No. It was life itself, and when it fell it surged through me like an electric current.
I also loved to play in the woods. This was forbidden by my mother because she was worried about ticks and didn’t want me getting into trouble. But whenever I got the chance, I would sneak into the woods behind my house and I’d imagine them filled with fairies, trolls and wood sprites. My world with filled with magic and I believed that dreams came true.
However, as I grew older, my idealism became tired pessimism. Indeed, even the way I viewed Nature herself changed. As an adult, I succumbed to the consumerist, rape-the-earth-for-resources mentality and never questioned the fact that this mindset would conflict with concept my Goddess religion. I found myself disdainful of folks who professed a desire to live lightly on the Earth, thinking they were weird for shopping at thrift stores when they could afford new, growing tomatoes on their back porch, or (Gods forbid!) bringing their own grocery bags to the store.
Yet, increasing I’ve grown sickened with my own behavior towards my Earth Mother. I realized that our estrangement was a combination of modern urban living and my own laziness. The less time I spend in amongst Nature, the more cut off I am from the miracle that is this life. The more time I spend outside, the more aware I am of Nature’s dance. I see Her creatures making their homes, raising their young, living and dying before my eyes and I think “how do we not see?”
We lock ourselves inside our self-made prisons, we feast upon chemically enhanced food and we regularly poison ourselves with substances to keep us running on the little wheels we built in order to maintain this unsustainable existence until the Earth buckles beneath us and swallows us whole.
Once the scales fell from my eyes, I knew I could not return to the way I had been living. So, what do I do now? How can I alter my course from one of death to one that is affirming of life and respectful of the Earth?
One step at a time. It’s a work in progress…
- Spend more time outside.
- Eat only natural foods. If I can’t read the label, I can’t eat it.
- Cook at home more. (This one is a constant struggle.)
- Eat as much organic food as I can.
- Eat less meat.
- Compost. Start a worm bin.
- If possible, buy used.
- Downsize my personal library. (Sold 22 books and counting…)
- Use what I have first before buying more.
- Don’t buy things that I don’t need/that I know I won’t use.
- Grow some of my own food.
- Hang laundry up to dry.
- Recycle, reuse /or re-purpose if possible.
- Spend more time outside. (Yes, this one is on here twice. It’s that important.)