Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Every Day is Earth Day

Earth Day is every day. It’s not just a sentiment. It’s true. Despite what Western convention would have you believe, land does not belong to anyone. We belong to the land. We were born from it. We evolved out of it. And from the moment of our birth, we are charged as caretakers of the Earth. We are all Stewards of the Land.
Believe it. Own it. Live it. How will you rise to meet your birthright?

Let’s Talk Trash for Earth Day. I know the trash you see on the streets and in the parks does not belong to you. You didn’t put it there. That doesn’t mean you can’t pick it up. Just yesterday I picked up three knotted plastic bags of dog shit left behind in various yards. I don’t have a dog. But the owners of those dogs were obviously not going to do it.
I am especially offended by all the broken bits of plastic littered about that most people don’t see, all the bottle caps and bits of food packaging containers. Have you seen the video about the birds that die with bellies full of plastic? They mistake it for food and it kills them from the inside. Who will defend their right to life free from harm if not us?
Maybe you don’t have it in you to pick up all the trash you see. The best way you CAN help is to not add to it. We create the world we want to live in by the choices we make. Do not ever throw a thing to the ground because you don’t know what to do with it. Adopt a practice of Carry In, Carry Out.

And then take it a step further with the Earth Week Challenge. It doesn’t have to be earth week when you do it, but challenge yourself to spend a week not using garbage cans or waste baskets. Carry a reusable shopping bag with you (one you can wash afterwards) and throw personal refuse you would normally put in the garbage in your reusable bag- unless it’s actual food waste, because that can be unsanitary. But collect everything else. At the end of the week you will see the waste you produced, just from your day-to-day routine. You may not be able to apply this to work-related refuse, but that candy bar you ate at on break should go in your reusable bag.
Then reflect on ways you can pare down on the unnecessary garbage and maybe keep the challenge going for a month. What choices can you make when you’re shopping to both get a good price AND cut down on the amount of wasteful packaging? How much can you reduce your garbage output and increase your recyclables output over time? It makes me feel good that every week I put out one small garbage bag and two very full recycling bins. Someday, when we can have a composting bin on our property, even that minimal garbage output will go down.

If you have a mind to face the truth, if you can stomach it, read writings by Derrick Jensen. It’s hard to face the legacy of the effects our pursuit of industry and progress have had on the Earth. My firm belief is that if we cannot do it cleanly, we have no business doing it. We cannot afford to forego the effects of what we do for the sake of progress. And yet big business does just that. How can we care if we don’t know? Check back in the next few weeks for my thoughts on the essay “What We Leave Behind” from The Derrick Jensen Reader: Writings on Environmental Revolution. Even my hometown is not immune to the aftereffects of industry, made known in a new film by Tanya Stadelmann, called “This Creek.”
I don’t blame you if it’s too much to hear, too much to know, or too much to handle. But we all spend enough time with our heads in the sand, like ostriches, trying to protect our human hearts. But while we do that, who is protecting the heart of the Earth?

We’re slowly learning. People and groups are making changes, but the time has come for more sweeping global changes. The best way to move forward is to follow by positive examples. The country of Sweden recycles all that can be recycled and what little garbage remains, less than one percent, is turned into an energy source. Other countries are now paying Sweden to import the garbage they do not have room for.
Did you know there are giant swirling masses of plastic covering our oceans and separating the underwater life from sunlight? There are five main masses, totaling millions of tons of weight (of plastic, which weighs next to nothing. See what this group is doing to help clean up the oceans. Do you want to eat fish that has been eating plastic?
In Paraguay, people have seen beauty and possibility in the trash piled up around them. Imagine beautiful musical instruments for underprivileged kids made of recycled materials pulled from dumps. Seriously. Watch the video. Listen to the music. One man's waste is another man's treasure. Literally.
These problems are human ones. Humans created this waste. Not the Earth. It can’t be the Earth’s problem. Sometimes we need a reminder that when we let nature be what she was meant to be, beautiful things happen. Humans once trapped wolves to near-extinction, and the land changed because of it. These changes are not irreversible. Watch the magic that happened when wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone.

Every day is Earth Day. We are born from it. We evolved out of it. And from the moment of our birth, we are charged as caretakers of the Earth. Believe it. Own it. Live it. How will you rise to meet your birthright?

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