As I grow older, I’m actually becoming more of a greenie. I guess I finally realized: this earth is our home. And it’s the only one we get.
Growing up, the environment was not big on my radar. My parents recycled, and like most disallowed behaviors, any littering would get us kids immediate, guaranteed punishment.
But we were a Colorado family. We ate meat. We believed in oil. We spent charity work packing Thanksgiving meals for the homeless.
The emphasis wasn’t on being “green.”
My parents did have a garden in the backyard, where they grew zucchini and tomatoes. I was never much interested in this project. It involved weeding – a chore – and during that dirt-digging, one inevitably ran across worms. Gross. Even worse, there was always the off chance you’d stumble upon a spider or two.
To the elementary aged me, very few experiences came in higher on the “Just say no” scale than spider sightings.
There were environmental awareness days, at school, and I remember one occasion in which we visited a local park and bummed around, looking for trash to pick up.
That was all fine. I had no problem with the idea of “Mother Nature.” Great!
I just didn’t care. Landfills, pollution… it all seemed like the unfortunate but inevitable, and ultimately pretty harmless, byproduct of humans being humans.
But as I get older, it’s like that old Churchill adage is working in reverse. If younger people are supposed to have bleeding hearts and no brains, and older people are supposed to have harder hearts but savvier thinking, I’m actually…
Getting softer. Yep. I’m getting to be a environmentalist.
When did this happen? I love concrete cities, and I live in one now, and I don’t fantasize about country life or mountaineering.
And yet, I must face the reality. I am slowly becoming a bona fide greenie, a true blue tree hugger.
For instance: I’ve noticed myself wondering the most absurd things. This morning, tearing open the plastic wrap of my son’s next diaper pack, I thought there must be a way to stop all this excessive, unnecessary plastic. Maybe huge boxes could be delivered to the store, and then an attendant would count out the diapers, and I could just bring a piece of twine and tie them up.
Maybe milk could come to the door again, in reusable glass bottles rather than these throwaway cartons.
I mean, why is everything “throw away” anyway? I get the convenience factor, and listen: I LOVE convenience.
But once I was forced to start bringing my cloth shopping bags to the grocery store (we’re just a few blocks walk away, and shoulder bags are infinitely easier to haul by foot than their unreliable, paper handled counterparts), I quickly realized that cleaning and storing cloth bags is as easy as folding up, storing, and recycling paper bags.
It may be… dare I say it… even more convenient.
On a much larger note, the earth is our home. This is it. This is the only place in the entire universe available to us, and it is a magisterial, mysterious miracle of a world.
If we ruin it, we have nowhere else to go.
And it is just striking to me how willing we are to trash our home.
So on Earth Day, let me encourage my fellow non-environmentalists to maybe just notice nature. Just listen for a bird, or check out the clouds, and marvel at this extraordinary place we get to call home.
I think that’s a good place to start. Because sometimes all it takes is recognizing the beauty to convince you to take care of it.