Weis: Thinking Green

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(HOST) As Green Up Day approaches, environmental educator and commentator Russ Weis reminds us how to green up our lifestyles, along with our Vermont landscape.

(WEIS) My dog, Cedar, and I have been taking jogs together for years now. And you might say we plant two trees with the same seed by picking up trash while running. It makes me feel good to do some neighborhood beautifying while exercising.

Cedar’s motivations are decidedly simpler. She gets the first discarded can we come across, mainly because I can’t beat her to it anyway, and when we get home we battle over it for a bit.  Cedar’s face is lit up with excitement, and she doesn’t seem to care that the energy used to produce the can she’s defending could light up a room for twenty hours.  Anyway, when she finally takes pity on me and relinquishes control, into the recycling it goes.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that the most common roadside items are beer cans and cigarette packs. This prompts me to wonder about a possible connection between those who pollute their bodies and those who pollute the landscape. Regardless, Green Up Day offers everybody the chance to do something about our environment. Now, I get that it can be tough to install solar panels or convert our cars to biodiesel.  Or to buy shade-grown coffee or even to buy local on a regular basis.

However, it’s not all that hard to bring along reusable canvas bags when you’re shopping, to use a travel mug when you’re purchasing your morning cup, or to simply recycle. Better yet, redeem the containers you use on a daily basis. That way you can also earn a little green for your wallet. I try to jog down the green path just a little bit farther every week. I believe that if enough of us do the same, we might yet avert the worst.

Environmentalist Bill McKibben speaks of an Earth today vastly different from the one we were born onto, and I for one believe him.  A tornado tore through my backyard, summer before last. A tornado! My wife and kids witnessed rain pouring in torrents through the windows. The house sounded as if a freight train were passing through. When the skies had cleared, two enormous fallen pines had smashed our fence and our compost bin. Their top branches rested just inches from our propane tanks. I couldn’t get home that evening until scores of trees had been cleared from the same road that Cedar and I had blithely jogged upon that very morning.

Cedar won’t be having any puppies in her lifetime. But many of us two-legged joggers do have kids. So I like to think that we can clear the hurdles before us, by going beyond simply not littering to taking responsibility for all that we consume. We have to face the fact that we just can’t kick the global warming can any farther down the road.

McKibben says it’s too late to restore the climate we were born into. Now, our goal is merely to sustain an Earth future generations can survive upon. Our children and grandchildren deserve at least that much.

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