The first step toward living lighter − toward really rolling up one’s sleeves and caring for creation − is to get to know one’s own place. Ironically, with environmental crises ranging from deforestation in Brazil to desertification in Africa filling the news, it is often easier to know more about places thousands of kilometres away than the place right under one’s own feet and in front of one’s own eyes. Don’t get me wrong: an understanding of worldwide environmental problems is necessary and valuable, but true understanding and experience of one’s local environment in all its botanical and zoological uniqueness is transformative.
So here’s a challenge: get to know your neighbours. The guy with the scruffy beard down the street, certainly, but also that bird twittering in the tree at the end of the block. Oh, and learn the name of the tree as well.
A little quiz to get you started:
Where in the world are you?
- What is the name of your watershed?
- How is your home’s electricity produced?
- Name five edible native plants in your area.
- From what direction do winter storms generally come in your region?
- Where does your garbage go?
- What are the easiest vegetables to grow in your soil and climate?
- Name five trees in your neighbourhood. Are any of them native?
- Name five resident birds in your area.
- Name five invasive species (either plant or animal) in your neighbourhood.
- Point north.
How did you do?