It is arrogant to believe humans can “save” the planet. However, there are many, many things that human beings can do, that will help nature preserve the planet. Nature has many healing, creative and restorative ways; humans just need to be open to them.
The very first crucial change is humility, then, and to believe that connection to the land, the sky, the soil, the sea, and the air breathed is not just an eco-crazed, fuzzy or hippie dippy attitude. It is a very real relationship to the whole world. First of all, people can reconnect to their place in nature by observing it. Taking walks, spending time outdoors, seeing mountains, forests, rivers, fields and deserts allows people to discover there is astonishing beauty, less stress and healing to be found by simply turning away from the twitter and clang of the everyday world.
Sustainability is not a restrictive or dirty word. It means living by natural laws and abundance rather than living by self imposed limitations. It means keeping water, air, soil and land pure enough to support life for generations to come. It means changing values. Valuing people and other living things, over valuing stuff, is the biggest change that can occur for a world changed for the better.
With that single change, valuing life over having an all consuming life, a pathway back to the garden is possible. People are weary of debt, junk, trashy values and depressing guilt over the envrionment. In the case of changes for the better, none is more important than realizing fighting for ever diminished resources is just not as rewarding as sharing a rewarding, rich life of abundance. This will require education for everyone. Women especially, can be empowered by education to have fewer children and more quality lives out of poverty for those children.
In the family, in the factory, in the home and in the great outdoors itself, there is no denying that nature produces, protects and provides everything that humans use on a daily basis from air, to water, to soil and so much more. It also cannot be denied that feeling disoriented, stressed, over crowded and cranky is part of what humanity created with the by products of industry: garbage, toxins, war and waste.
There are more things people can do than can be discussed in a short simple article, but the primary thing people can do is to appreciate, and thus learn to protect all the natural resources that they depend upon for life on earth. Looking to fulfill just one rewarding day of difference making, let us examine just one typical day.
Wake up and be thankful. Notice not just the blaring alarm clock, but the early morning light, the clouds, the weather, the view beyond one's room and home. When showering thank the droplets that clean, quench and become part of the body itself. Be thankful for the sensation. Take short, energy efficient showers. Note that showering in the morning uses less water and electricity than bathing at night. Having lights on and more water being used and heated by everyone in the neighborhood in the evening also means one can miss the restorative sensation of cool showering by natural morning light. Showering with a friend or spouse is also becoming very popular!
When dressing, be mindful of where the fibers of clothing came from. Be mindful of taking great care and pride in how to dress. Treating clothes shabbily means valuing the self less. Don’t carelessly drop food, or stain them, no matter what the detergent commercials say. Take pride in sharing, and or obtaining clothes, from a charity store, garage sale, or hand me downs. Having higher quality goods that are durable and classic is better than cheap, disposable, or constantly replaced ones.
Next, enjoy a morning cup of coffee. Save those coffee grounds to re-energize the soil in compost, even as the morning cup of Joe revitalizes the body. Eat a healthy breakfast of non-processed, or pre -packaged food. It does not have to be organic or even vegetarian to make a small difference, although eating less meat and grease benefits human bodies, pristine water and soil systems, and obviously the meat animal as well!
When done eating rinse out cup or glass, than pour it over plates or bowls. Conserve water, detergents and soaps. Keep a mind toward what is being wasted, discarded or abused. This opens up not just the mind to restoration, but the psyche and emotions as well.
Carpool, bike, walk or take public transportation to work. Ask about telecommuting to stay out of traffic snarls and their high costs. Consider flex time to cut out traffic stress. Be fit and fabulous by finding a green job with a green commute.
At work, again look to conserve energy, water, paper, and all goods that allow making a living. Be an example to others by insisting on recycling paper and using non-disposable food ware in the break room, or at the cafeteria. Just say no to Styrofoam, it is after all much worse than drugs. Switch to glass or metal rather than plastic or paper where ever a choice presents itself. Think durability, rather than disposability, and then scale up that attitude toward others, corporations, governments and nations.
When possible, go outdoors before, during and after work. Being outdoors connects human beings back to the environment in which they evolved before the industrial banging, churning, blasting, and fume filled artificial concrete and plastic environments people have come to know and disdain.
At home, remember the same rules of conservation for dinner and for the family. The dinner table is a great opportunity. Teach everyone from kids to corporations that earth matters as it allows a living, and a healthier place to live and grow. Kids are best taught by example of appreciating the incredible diversity of life, wild animals, trees and flowers.
Corporations are best taught by what choices are made to consume goods and services. Ask whether any product will end up in the great pacific garbage patch, land fill, the human endocrine system or in any damaged ecosystem. Corporations and polluters profit by privatizing profits while socializing costs. Insist that in the human body, home, community, air, waterways and soils welcome only wholesome things and minimal toxins being added.
In the evening, learn to socialize with people, family and friends and take at least one night off the internet or video game to connect face to face with people, children, pets, the lake, forest, prairie and all organisms that share DNA and elements.
Reduce, re-use and recycle do matter, but nothing matters more than realizing connection to others, and to belonging to the earth rather than assuming it belongs to man. Belonging is important. Modern ecopsycchology has taught that people do not live in the mind, but in the world. Being surrounded by supportive healing matters, being surrounded by trash, debt, death and competition hurts the body, mind spirit and kinship to earth. Being open to the idea that there are other organisms, animals, and living systems, such as soils and waterways; is a brief but powerful opening towards improved relations with the planet.