Recycle, Reuse, and Make a Commitment to the Environment
Thank You Rachel Carson
In 1962, the book "Silent Spring" was published, and with its publication, the voice of environmental protection was born.
Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist and conservationist, known certainly within her academic and scientific circles, but relatively unknown to the American public.
Until "Silent Spring" was published. With its publication, environmental concerns entered the public and political discussions, and the horrors of pesticides such as DDT became common knowledge. Silent Spring was, or course, fiercely opposed by chemical companies, but the dam had been broken, and eventually the book led to a ban on DDT and other pesticides, and led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously by President Carter.
I was just entering high school when "Silent Spring" was published. It was required reading by the time I entered college in 1966. I was amazed, saddened, and angered by the information contained in that book.
And then I entered the “real world” and promptly forgot all about it….or should I say, I chose to ignore the warnings.
Like so many others, and I suspect this article is being read by some who understand what I am about to say, I began living my life, and making money, and buying possessions, and among those possessions was a home, and the home meant taking care of the lawn and gardens and…..
Taking care of the lawn and gardens meant using fertilizers and yes, pesticides, and of course it meant using energy, and I admit, I took the easiest way out because, hey, I was a busy man, and I had no time to worry about the environment or other nonsense.
And the Nonsense Continued
It was not until 1992 (true story, with God as my witness), when I was teaching an environmental unit to my middle school students, that I came to the realization that I was a hypocrite. For a full thirty years, after reading Rachel Carson’s damning book, I continued to live a life of excess and convenience, ignoring the scientific evidence and wreaking havoc on the environment.
Since 1992 I have slowly changed my ways. I say “slowly” because changes of this type and scale do not happen overnight. We do not alter a lifetime of waste in a single moment, but if we are willing we can change.
I was willing.
I am willing.
This past Weekend
My wife and I were cruising the countryside on a lovely Sunday afternoon when we spied an item on the side of the road with a “for free” sign on it. My two favorite words are, by the way, “for free.” We stopped, loaded it up in our pickup, and immediately knew what we would use it for.
You can see it in the picture to the right of this article. I don’t know what it was originally, but for us, it is the beginning of a rabbit hutch. All we have to do it staple some chicken wire around the outsides of it, nail some legs on it, cut out a door in the wire side, and we have a beautiful condo for a New Zealand White.
The beauty of recycling!
We do this all the time by the way. We are constantly looking for someone else’s discards that will fit perfectly on our urban farm. The quail hutch we recently built is made completely from recycled materials we found elsewhere.
The lumber used to make our raised garden beds is all recycled wood.
The bamboo trellis we made for our grapes and berries was also free.
And what about those pesticides that Carson warned us about fifty-two years ago?
We don’t use them.
We control bugs in our garden using a spray made of garlic and red pepper. It is effective and safe for the environment. We also control slugs by allowing weeds to grow in-between our raised beds. The slugs wake up, crawl out of their little underground bedrooms, and start munching on the weeds and never make it to the vegetables growing mere feet away.
And we don’t fertilize the lawn because, well, lawns are evil and serve no purpose.
Every Little Bit Helps
We have a clothes line in the backyard, and we hang our clothes out to dry during the summer. Is it convenient to do so? Hell no! Is it the responsible thing to do as a citizen of this planet? Hell yes!
We make our own compost for fertilizer because, well, I hate Monsanto Corporation. We feed table scraps to the chickens and quail and yes, soon, to the rabbits. We grow our own berries, fruits, and vegetables because we don’t trust the food sold at supermarkets and well, because I hate Monsanto Corporation.
We recycle religiously, give extra to the poor, and we are continually finding ways to provide for ourselves and others without harming the environment. We collect rainwater in barrels, we keep the lights turned off during the day, and on and on and on we go.
Are We Wasting Our Time?
I’ve had people tell me that what we are doing is a complete waste of time, that the problems are so huge as to render our meager efforts as meaningless. This is a huge world, they say, and the problem is too large, they say, and to them I say…..I DON’T CARE!
What we are doing is the right thing to do. Who among you truly believes that pesticides are not dangerous? Who among you believes that our resources are in such abundance that they will never run out?
Faced with the knowledge that pesticides are dangerous, how can anyone justify using them?
Faced with the knowledge that we are, as a society, depleting our natural resources, how can anyone justify wasting those resources?
Faced with the knowledge that we are slowly killing ourselves and our planet, how can anyone justify continuing to live a life of waste and convenience?
Will I Make a Difference?
I don’t know. Honestly, the problem is so huge, that I do not know if what I do makes a damned bit of difference.
But I know I am right, and I know I am doing the right thing, and that allows me to sleep well at night.
There will always be those who have no social conscience. They will spend needlessly, they will waste resources, and they will plunder this planet for their own needs and greed. I can do nothing about those people.
But I can do something about myself, and as a writer I can do whatever I can to spread the word and raise awareness.
Recycle, reuse, and make a commitment to the environment.
Rachel Carson, I Am Sorry
An excerpt from Silent Spring:
“The history of life on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and their
surroundings. To a large extent, the physical form and the habits of the earth's vegetation and its
animal life have been molded by the environment. Considering the whole span of earthly time, the
opposite effect, in which life actually modifies its surroundings, has been relatively slight. Only
within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species—man—acquired
significant power to alter the nature of his world.
During the past quarter century this power has not only increased to one of disturbing
magnitude but it has changed in character. The most alarming of all man's assaults upon the
environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal
materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in
the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible. In this now
universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized
partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world—the very nature of its life.”
Carson tried to show us the way, but many of us ignored her warnings. Now we are paying for our transgressions.
We can all do our part. The change will be difficult at first, but eventually it will become second-nature.
Recycle, reuse, and make a commitment to the environment.
Please….before it truly is too late.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)