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Environmentally Friendly

By Oli Bauer, September 10, 2012:

As I was growing up, my parents taught me good habits such as conserving electricity and water, not being wasteful with food, and finding new uses for items that had outlived their original purposes. Our family didn’t have a lot of money, so taking good care of the things we did have was a logical, practical choice. It never occurred to me to equate these practices with environmentalism.

As a teen, mostly through my love of reading the newspaper, I sometimes became aware of environmental issues, but usually only when activists did something extreme to draw attention to their cause or to “right a wrong”—theft, arson, violent demonstration, and so on. To my teenage mind, those issues seemed far less important than the wars, crimes, and other violence being reported on those same pages. As a result, I associated environmentalism with only the more radical elements, and the term “environmentalist” with those who engaged in bizarre vigilante activities. I continued with the commonsense practices I’d learned as a child, but still didn’t connect this with taking personal responsibility for protecting our environment.

Now that I’ve read and studied more, I realize that my youthful generalizations were wrong. I’m far from being an expert on environmentalism, but I have a better appreciation of the importance of taking an environmentally-conscious approach to many of my decisions and life in general. For me, having an eco-friendly state of mind involves these elements:

Awareness. Reading and studying to remain informed about local, national, and worldwide environmental concerns and solutions, as well as to better understand the ecological systems of the area in which I live.

I am glad that information regarding the products that I buy and the processes related to their manufacture and disposal is easier to come by today than it was in years past. I can choose to use organic, biodegradable products. I can choose to not support companies that don’t, in practice, support the environment.

Gratitude. Taking time to appreciate this wonderful world that I’m privileged to live in, to marvel at all God created and orchestrates daily; and to create spaces in my heart and mind for wonder and thanksgiving. Gratefulness and mindfulness go hand in hand.

Respect. I believe that part of respecting God is respecting all of His creation. With that in mind, I feel responsible to the 6.9 billion others alive today, as well as to the generations to come, to not take from the planet what can’t be replenished, or take more than I need. I will strive to be more thoughtful and less selfish.

I want to continue to learn about the environment and environmental issues. I want to incorporate more environmentally-conscious practices into my lifestyle, beyond conserving electricity, water, and other resources, and beyond trying to not pollute our planet. I want to find ways to simplify my life, because I believe that will help me to be less wasteful.

The information available on various environmental matters can be overwhelming and conflicting, and that can be frustrating. It takes time to sort fact from guesswork or unsupported opinion. It takes balance to not be carried away by the enthusiasm surrounding one area or idea to the neglect of others. It takes discipline and patience to be consistent and vigilant. I can’t abide by every environmentally-friendly practice that has been suggested, but I can do what I can.


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