Dear Mother Earth:
I’m not an environmentalist, I never have been. I’ve never donated to Greenpeace, probably never will. I’ve never protested on your behalf.
But it doesn’t mean I don’t love you.
I’ve not been religious since my childhood, but I have no doubt there’s something bigger than me — all I need do is find myself under a towering West Coast evergreen or sitting by the ever-flowing river, pulling a Siddhartha on the shores.
And that thing bigger than me is you, Mother Earth.
You’re everything. You shape my every day.
In recent months, I’ve had to further reevaluate my actions in life.
I’ve always been aware of the peril you teetered on the brink of, Mother, since the rainforests began coming down in Brazil in the ’80s, but seeing how close you are now to the precipice of no environmental return breaks my heart and makes me wish I’d been more vocal earlier.
There’s not a lot I can do for you.
I’m but one small voice in the fray.
Yet I can educate the others, and hope they join me in the small actions I know can build into a giant movement, but only if we all act together.
As I write, an island of garbage is growing in the Pacific. Halfway between San Francisco and Hawaii lies a manmade island of floating garbage now considerably larger than the entire state of Texas. Diapers, plastic, toothbrushes, and garbage of all kinds have floated into formation and now sit there, clogging the Pacific, as an homage to the incredible crassness of man.
And deep down in the Gulf of Mexico, Deepwater Horizon keeps spewing oil at a rate no one can agree upon, decimating the fastest-disappearing environment on the planet, the wetlands of Louisiana’s Gulf.
Anger has built around the world, with words of rage being flung at British Petroleum and the lagging actions of the Obama Administration, but were it not for the demand we’ve caused, the insatiable hunger we’ve shown for all things plastic and cars that go vroom, we would not be in this position.
We have the mentality, Mother, that if we didn’t put that piece of plastic in the Pacific with our own two hands, or if we didn’t perform the negligence that caused Deepwater Horizon to blow and kill 11 men before decimating shores and industry, that we’re just innocent bystanders in the eye of an environmental storm.
But we’re wrong, Mother.
It’s our fault.
We drop the garbage that eventually slips down storm drains and flows into the ocean.
We buy the senseless “bottled water” and purchased drinks that are made from aluminum and plastic — materials that can’t be made without petroleum.
We drive the three-minute trip to the store instead of walking for 10 minutes.
We do it.
It’s our fault.
I’m trying to do my part, though, Mother. I look at the bottom of plastics and glass before I buy products to ensure they’re recyclable in my area.* If not, I try to choose better or live without, if I can.
I’m trying to use my words, my ability to communicate, to inspire others to care, to help others see the horrible direction we’re headed in, and to teach others that you, Mom, deserve our very best.
And you haven’t been getting it.
It’s our fault, Mother.
We know not what we do to you, but you do. You know, and now you’re starting to show us. Oh, are you showing us.
It’s not too late.
But soon it will be.
We have the opportunity to learn, to change, and to take this planet in a new direction. We’re more creative, connected, motivated, educated, and empowered than we’ve ever been as a society, and if we’ve ever had the opportunity to undo all the harm we’ve done, that time is now.
I, for one, know I can continue to improve.
I can do better, waste less, think more.
I will do better. I will waste less. I will think, do, and say, more.
It’s not too late at all, Mother.
But soon it will be.
With hopefully undying love,
Your Daughter, Steff
*My home trash collecting will allow for recycled products in class 1 & 2. There are 7 grades of plastic, and just because it shows “recyclable” doesn’t mean it actually *IS* recycled in your part of the world. Here’s a quick reference of how to recycle and what works: Click here. In short? Really only classes 1 & 2 can be recycled; everything ELSE you should reconsider purchasing.
WANT TO FIGHT THE GARBAGE PATCH? Join here and see what you can do. Stay engaged via following PlasticPollutes on Twitter. WANT TO WEIGH IN ON THE OIL SPILL? Probably the best way to stay involved is via the TED Oilspill expedition’s work right now: http://tedxoilspill.com/ Look into opportunities to do shore “clean-ups” in your area — every piece you pick up is one less that can harm the ocean and its inhabitants. I’ve just organized one in my city for July 18th, at a more “neglected” and less-visited beach. You can organize one, too — or just go as a family or with friends. It’s not ‘weird’ to help save the planet. Not anymore.