It is time for a quiet revolution

By Lynette Walther | Dec 31, 2019
Photo by: Lynette L. Walther The largest irrigated crop in the nation? It's our lawns. Think of the rewards of eliminating or reducing turf from less mowing, fewer emissions, less noise…you name it. Replace with native plants and flowering plants to offer a feast for pollinators and wildlife.

For many, the New Year signals the time to start another diet or a vigorous exercise regimen. Those holiday calories can add up. But I’d like to suggest we all consider starting out this new year 2020, with a “diet” of another kind — an energy diet. Thing is that when we take a few extra steps (pun intended) to reduce our energy use and how we live our lives, we not only help the planet but we often end up improving our own health and fitness as well.

The global news on climate change is not good. There are plenty of reasons to reduce our carbon footprint and give Mother Nature a helping hand. In September of last year (yeah it’s already 2020) 163 countries joined the 20th Global Climate Strike inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. An estimate four million people protested worldwide. But you don’t have to march or protest to make a difference. Just remember there are millions of people around the globe who join you in replicating the incremental changes that empower everyone of us to make a difference.

As gardeners we know our immediate environment, and many of us may have already noticed the changes that impact our landscapes and crops. Weather extremes are the first thing that comes to mind, but we read about declining bird and butterfly and even dramatic reductions in insect populations. Many of us have already observed these alarming changes firsthand.

We can start with the lawn. According to the Audubon Society, America’s largest irrigated crop isn’t corn or soy—it’s grass. By eliminating or drastically reducing turf, the impact is multifold. A simple change can mean less or no water for irrigation, few or no chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides used, no need for gas-dependent mowers, edgers and leaf blowers which means no gasoline and no exhaust and NO noise pollution. Just think about it. To begin with, it drastically reduces the need for expensive maintenance equipment. Ahhh, I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel calmer already.

The most important climate action you can take at any level, but especially at the national one, is to vote for the candidates who are ready to take meaningful steps toward curbing carbon emissions and tackling climate change. Audubon Society says: Our path to a greener future must be one in which everybody has a say—most of all those who are already suffering from a warming planet. Climate change is a crisis, but it can also be an opportunity to create a more just world.

Next step is outdoors! Take time to remember what we are working to save. Get outside in your yard or the woods and take note of the birds. Go often, and remember to leave nothing behind but footsteps and take nothing but photographs. You are already getting healthier and you are getting to understand just what is at stake.

Okay, now take a look at your diet. Not an examination of the calories in that doughnut you had for a mid-morning snack, but what you are eating every day. Consider the number of gallons of gas each person would save by swapping beans for a five-ounce steak one day a week for a year — 38 gallons. Or, to put another way, that's a five-percent decrease in a typical home’s annual electricity use. But the swap of beans for that steak is also a win-win for your body’s overall health as well. See how this works?

“With your own carbon footprint under control, it’s time to level up your impact by encouraging those around you to take climate actions. But where to start?” asks the Audubon Society. “Consider the local communities and spaces where you already have connections and influence—your child’s school, say, or a social hub like a coffee shop. By merely showing up and making your case, you can lead others toward climate-friendly policies and practices. It’s not always easy, but it’s often productive—and rewarding. Along the way, you’ll develop new relationships and skills that will help you become an ace climate advocate.”

Next time we’ll look at some concrete steps anyone can take to implement meaningful change in your own life, your neighborhood and beyond. In the meantime, have a happy New Year, and get ready to fashion your own quiet revolution.

Lynette L. Walther is the recipient of the GardenComm Gold Medal for writing, and is a four-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement and the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. Her gardens are in Camden.

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