Take the time this week to go to a natural place. Could be a trail, beach, park, forest, or a lake. Sit quietly. LISTEN. The longer you sit, the more you will hear. Do you hear water trickling down a stream or insects humming? Or maybe you hear a branch creaking or a wave crashing. Are you lucky enough to hear a hummingbird whistling by? Or a critter scampering about?

But there are probably other noises too: anthropogenic noises – those that are human made. And in our modern world, finding quiet places is getting harder and harder. This noise pollution is becoming a real problem for our health and the health of wildlife. You can read more about it here.

So you might be wondering (rightfully) how listening is helpful. When you listen, you become aware – aware of not only the variety of natural noises but the problem of anthropogenic noise. This awareness can lead to understanding, caring, and action. Environmentalists, scientists, and activists are all working to preserve quiet places, including an organization called Quiet Parks International. These people are working on an international level to protect quiet places and parks from the larger problems of transportation, urban, and industrial noise. But in your own adventures, you too can be part of the movement to protect the quiet. When you are out in a natural place, keep your voice low. Don’t fly drones. Keep the music off. Encourage others to do the same. Because, it’s #YourPlanetToo.

Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints

‘Tis the season when so many of us are taking advantage of warmer weather to get out and enjoy nature – hiking, biking, swimming, camping, and more. Yet no matter the season or the location, whenever you are outdoors, remember to RECREATE responsibly and help others to do the same.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” There are variations to this, but the idea is that this philosophy shows appreciation and respect for nature without harming it. If you “take only pictures” you are leaving a natural place just as you found it. It can be tempting to take a rock or pick a flower. Yet these don’t belong in our homes and by leaving them where you find them, others can enjoy them (and the flowers will regrow the next season!).

“Leave only footprints,” reminds us not to litter or harm the environment. Even tiny pieces of litter should be picked up. Food scraps as well. It’s easy to think that throwing an apple core off trail will provide a meal for a nearby critter. But unless that apple came from the place where you are hiking, it doesn’t belong there. Not only can our foods harm wildlife, the wildlife can easily become dependent on human food during busy seasons. When the weather changes, that food source disappears, and animals may have a hard time surviving. In addition, we should never deface rocks or trees, leaving behind marks that may hurt trees and will diminish natural beauty.

And one last word about footprints. You should avoid leaving those too! Whenever possible, follow a trail or rock-hop. Even one footstep can harm fragile plants in many environments. When it’s muddy or wet, get muddy or wet – don’t create a new trail.

Recreating responsibly means respecting nature and leaving no trace. Help others in your group to do the same because it’s #YourPlanetToo.

PLAN a Summer Menu

A few weeks ago I talked about eating local – visiting farmers markets and local farms. It’s a great way to support local farmers, reduce food miles, and enjoy fresher, tastier food. Now that we are further into the summer season there are even more fruits and vegetable available locally. So this week, PLAN a menu based on the foods available at a nearby farmers market or farm!

Photo by Aaron Cloward on Unsplash

Visit first to see what’s available. This can include eggs and meats too which, of course, aren’t seasonal but are still locally grown. Take notes or pictures. Then spend some time thinking about how these items could be used in a meal. Will you make breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Or all three? Try it out. Perhaps another week you can challenge yourself and your family to plan an entire week of meals that are seasonal and locally grown.

This may seem like a small (although tasty!) thing to do, but every small step is one in the right direction. Maybe even invite other family members or friends over for your locally grown meal. Show off and inspire others because it’s #YourPlanetToo.

Plastic Free July

I do realize that previous posts have talked about different types of plastic use reduction So, to some extent, I am repeating myself. And yet I believe that this is a message that does need to be repeated many times in many different ways. This is, in part, because the plastic pollution problem is overwhelming. Yet it is also because it is an easily solvable problem. There are so many things an individual can do to be a part of the solution.

One possibility is to PARTICIPATE in the Plastic Free July challenge! This challenge is about becoming aware of your own plastic use and learning to make small changes. You can start with one small change. The hope is that this will lead to another change. And another. And another.

It might seem like the changes one person makes won’t make any difference at all in the world’s plastic pollution problem. But remember, it’s about the math…more than 300 million people are participating from 177 countries around the world. That’s a BIG difference. Visit the website for loads of information and resources about how to start at home, school, or anywhere because it’s #YourPlanetToo.