Let’s take some well-researched information from author Johann Tell who writes a collection of “oh reallys.” As in “Oh, really? I didn’t know that!”
A single dripping faucet can waste more than 6,000 gallons of water in a year, or enough for 400 showers;
An average tree can absorb more than 25 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year and at the same time produces enough oxygen for a family of four;
One person who pees in a lake for one day will add enough nitrogen to feed a couple of pounds of algae;
It takes 37 times as much energy to produce a couple of pounds of chocolate as it does to produce a couple of pounds of flour; Ten adults generate as much heat as a large radiator; A plastic bottle can remain in the ocean for 450 years; and We are now using 1,000 barrels of oil per second.
Get the kids outside. Build a treehouse, go camping, boating and hiking, make a bird box, plant bushes for your local butterflies, watch tadpoles turn into frogs in a pond.
Get your family used to visiting parks and nature reserves with a packed lunch on Sundays. Try to find a day-care where the children are outdoors as much as possible.
Any time, any place, teach your kids that nature is worth experiencing first-hand—and worth protecting for the future.
The next time you hear about development (subdivisions, huge malls, factories) encroaching on the remaining untouched open space left in the country, you will have a clear idea of what’s being lost. Take a stand against poorly planned development so your children and grandchildren will also have the opportunity to experience open, unpopulated nature.
I remember the Baguio of my youth—pine trees, open spaces, nearby mountains full of trees. The Baguio of today smells of ukay-ukay chemicals, and its mountains teem with houses; traffic and smog are ever-present just like in Manila. Why go there?
Eat a variety of foods. That most of our sayote comes from Baguio and atis (sweet sop) from Batangas may stike you as a banal factoid—especially if you hate ampalaya (bitter gourd). But it is worth your interest, because it reveals the disturbing trend toward increasing monoculture, where the same species of plants are grown everywhere. We need to strengthen biodiversity, where human activities support healthy ecological webs and landscape mosaics of agricultural land, lakes and streams, wetlands and forests. At the environmental summit in Johannesburg in 2002, world leaders adopted a convention calling for a reversal of biodiversity loss. It is not enough to set aside reserves for threatened plant and animal species—and a sayote or atis reservation would strike most of us as silly—but we can help by “voting” for biodiversity with our food shopping choices. Look for different varieties of mango, kangkong (water spinach), pechay, and, yes, ampalaya. (These local examples are mine.)
Buy and eat organic. As the Children’s Coalition says, “By purchasing organically grown foods, we support more than a line of safer food products. We also work to create a just and sustainable food system for ourselves and for future generations.
When we buy organically grown foods, we encourage our farmers to engage in organic farming rather than farming aided with poisonous artificial fertilizers and chemical pesticides.”
An organic farm won’t pollute lakes and rivers with pesticides that end up on our plates when we eat fish and other shellfood. Organic farmers are commonly seen as fuzzy-headed dreamers. But perhaps it’s worth putting at least some of our food budget into the hands of visionaries with an explicit ethical agenda, at the expense of the cold calculations of global agribusiness.
An easy choice? Not always. Easy or not, it’s your choice.
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