Finding Hope in Action: Saving Earth and Water with Small StepsFeb 27, 2023 ● By Marlaina Donato
In her book One Makes the Difference: Inspiring Actions That Change Our World, environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill asserts, “Everything we do and say does change the world. Even our inactions have impact.” Spring-boarding from Hill’s keen observation, the efforts each of us make can add up to much more than we ever imagine.
This year, the International Day of Forests and World Water Day are celebrated during the spring equinox (March 21 and 22), when nature kicks into high gear for annual renewal. For those dedicated to Earth awareness, this is a wonderful opportunity to commune with like-minded activists and learn about our impacts on vanishing resources.
Progress as Incentive
It is easy to be hopelessly discouraged when we look at the statistics of vanishing rain forests, polluted waterways and an astonishing output of “forever chemicals”, but focusing instead on the headway we’ve made worldwide can be a shot in the arm. The ozone layer, according to reliable accounts, is in recovery, thanks to reduced production of chlorofluorocarbons. Plastic policies in cities across the U.S., Europe and Australia are reducing waste, especially plastic shopping bags, plates, straws and cutlery. To fight the demise of vital coral reefs due to ocean acidification caused by the plastic pandemic, scientists are seeding reefs with coral offspring to promote restoration. The United Nations biodiversity conference held last year initiated an agreement among world leaders to restore 30 percent of natural resources by 2030 through concentrated efforts across the globe.
Major culprits of deforestation are food production (soy, corn and livestock), illegal logging and excessive paper manufacturing, which uses hazardous chemicals that compromise the air and human health. But there is much we can each do to counterbalance this devastation.
Besides going paperless whenever we can at home and work, opting for paper alternatives like bamboo, hemp and sugarcane can reduce energy production and pollution. “The three Rs—recycle, reuse and reduce—are still very important,” says Todd Larsen, executive co-director at Green America. “Look for paper products made with post-consumer recycled fiber, and consumers can encourage companies they support to use recycled paper as much as possible.”
The people behind TreeSisters.org, a registered charity in the UK spearheading social change and tropical reforestation, explain, “Tropical forests are more than ‘the lungs’ of our world. They are the beating heart of the hydrological cycle. As weather stabilizers, rain creators and cleansers, they are intimately tied to our health and our food.”
Supporting reputable organizations for land and water extends beyond funds. Volunteer work, initiating a fundraiser and spreading the word about their efforts on social media or over a coffee break are love in action. Choosing to buy from organic farmers with Earth-positive practices like crop rotation, cover cropping and composting is an investment in the future. Brady Smith, the public affairs officer for the Coconino National Forest, in Arizona, emphasizes, “If people can practice ‘leaving no trace’ ethics, that would go a long, long way in helping preserve our forests.”
Walking Our Talk for Water
It is a frightening prospect that the world’s oceans will have more plastic than marine life in just 30 years. The impact of overfishing adds to the grim reality, but we can choose sustainable, wild-caught seafood that requires minimal fresh water (and produces fewer carbon dioxide emissions than the beef industry).
According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, one in three people suffer from the consequences of contaminated water. Supporting clean water projects sponsored by charities like Water.org can help provide safe drinking water for families in impoverished countries. Donating $200 can help a family receive a water credit loan to connect to a water supply inside the home. A borrower’s payback rate in a country like the Philippines is an inspiring 99 percent.
Even surfing the net can have environmental implications. Instead of conducting web searches on Google, consider Ecosia. They use the profit they make from people’s searches to plant trees where they are needed most. What we do matters.
Canadian activist Maude Barlow’s inspiring words at the World Future Council last year remind us, “We can’t know what the outcome is going to be, but we have to have faith that others are doing very important work and that, collectively, that’s going to make a difference.”
Marlaina Donato is an author, painter and host of multimedia art exhibits intended for healing the community. Connect at WildflowerLady.com.