Dear Partners in Green,
Considering the name of this website, it may seem odd for me to advise against preaching, but that is just what I am doing in this Seedling.
There is a limit to the effectiveness of preaching. We know that people are prone to daydream or even fall asleep if the preacher drones on and on. The same can be true when it comes to “preaching green.”
The best way to preach green is to live green, to set an example, to demonstrate an alternative to the old way of living, to let our lives themselves speak.
“Our actions are our best form of persuasion,” writes Paul Greenberg in his book, The Climate Diet.1
Below are a few suggestions from Greenberg for this month and beyond, as you demonstrate your concern for our fragile planet:
- Invest in making your home more fuel-efficient rather than in a flying vacation.
- Turn some of your lawn space into tree space. Just half an acre of lawn converted to forest and allowed to grow to maturity will sequester more CO2 than a car emits in a year. Just planting one or two trees can make a difference.
- Drink tap water rather than bottled water. A 2007 study found that making the billions of plastic bottles made each year to hold that water used the equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil.
- Rather than impulse online shopping, make homemade gifts or give a tree planted in a person’s name.
- Buy frozen food which is more likely to be sent by ship, a more carbon-efficient mode of transportation, and with the same, if not better, nutritional value than fresh. Of course, buy local when you can.
- Eat carrots and other root vegetables which have surprisingly low emission cost.
- Give up shrimp, particularly farmed shrimp. Shrimp farming has destroyed millions of acres of one of the world’s most powerful carbon–sequestering ecosystems. Not to mention that farmed shrimp may be contaminated with antibiotics, and that slave labor is a dark secret of the shrimp farming industry. If you cannot give up shrimp, be sure to research its source.
Smile and take a deep breath, knowing that you have made a difference, now that your life has spoken and continues to speak.
This is one of my favorite poems from Rilke’s Book of Hours, Love Poems to God.2 Maybe it will speak to you.
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
Let’s not give up on each other.
Wishing peace and health to you and your loved ones.
Thank you for being on this journey.
Till next time,
1Greenberg, Paul. The Climate Diet, 50 Simple Ways to Trim Your Carbon Footprint. New York: Penguin Books, 2021.
2Rilke, Maria. Rilke’s Book of Hours Love Poems to God. Trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005. 45.