April 20, 2012

Baby Steps to Brighter Futures.

Little things, Big problems

Why I’ll never give up on the little things.

What am I doing right now? Sitting in my office, writing this post (clearly).

What do I want to be doing right now? Driving around in my car with nowhere to go, blasting the radio and singing my lungs out.

Why am I not doing the latter? Because I’m saving the planet. One step at a time.

Here’s my one step theory. When I was a baby and I took my very first step, my parents absolutely did not look at each other and say “This girl’s gonna run a marathon.” I was a baby, so I certainly didn’t think it.

In fact, when I ran cross-country in high school, I didn’t even consider running a marathon. When I ran my first half-marathon, I then considered running a marathon. A thought that was quickly put to rest with a firm “Oh, hell no.”

And then I did.

Thirty some-odd years after my very first baby step, I ran a marathon. But without that first step, I never could have.

Over the past few years, I’ve grown to be aware of the effects my actions have on the environment, I’m becoming conscious of all the little things I do or, more accurately, think about doing, that are hurting sweet mama earth.

Am I saving the planet by not taking Matt Nathanson on a 45 minute jaunt around my little town? I don’t know. But I have to believe that the little steps that I am taking are helping. They have to be right? Because I don’t compost because it fun. I do it because something like 25% of all waste in landfills is organic, compostable matter. So by making dirt with my rotting food instead of throwing it in the garbage, I’m helping reduce that amount, however minutely.

Acadia National Park

I mean look, I’m basically a nature girl; mostly by default. I grew up in the great outdoors. My parents didn’t have the money to take us on expensive trips into cities growing up, so I spent my vacations camping in Acadia National Park and hiking in the White Mountains. Some of my fondest memories are from those days.

I was a tidal pool explorer. I could climb to the top of any mountain. With the children of my parent’s friends and my brother, I would ride around those campgrounds on my pink huffy bike like every pine tree belonged to me. And from that early age we learned to love and respect the nature we were so blessed to enjoy.

My parents were in no way hippies (ok, they were totally hippies, but that was before my brother and I came along, and they weren’t the tree hugging kind of hippies), but they did teach us to pick up after ourselves and that didn’t just mean at home. Littering would not have been tolerated.

Not that I think it ever crossed any of our minds. It was pretty where we were and even in our pink cheeked innocence, we wanted to keep it that way. Simply put, garbage was gross and we didn’t want it messin’ up our bike rides!

Fast forward a couple of decades and I’m just a bit more conscious of my actions. I understand that we need to do more than just pick up after ourselves if we plan on keeping this planet beautiful for our grandchildren to enjoy. It might just be time to make some sacrifices, big and small so that our children’s children can enjoy the wonderland that is Earth.

So I pass on some of the things that once brought me joy in my “ignorance is bliss” stage. Like riding around in the car for no reason just to blast the radio. And the feeling of just out of the dryer laundry, now that all my clothes get hung on the clothesline. I stopped buying whatever strikes my fancy and downloaded an app that tells me if my next purchase is doing more harm than good.

But I still must find joy. Because if the joy is missing, what’s the point? So I find joy in my conscious decisions.

>> I  put on  my old running sneakers on and find a new route.

>> I head to the ocean for an early morning swim, when the beach is quiet.

>> I get my hands dirty in the garden.

>> And I jam out Matt Nathanson in my office, instead of the car.

So as Earth Day approaches and the conversation rolls on about our delicate eco-system and whether or not the little steps are getting us anywhere, I say take ’em anyway. Baby steps may not save the planet, but they may be just the first step in a journey that will. After all, every marathon is run one step at a time.

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Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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