April 20, 2020
Dear LREI Community,
I trust that you are well and that your family and friends are healthy. Please be sure to contact me or whoever at LREI with whom you are most comfortable speaking if there is anything we can do to support your family.
Wednesday is Earth Day. Not just any Earth Day, it is the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. Check out EarthDay.org for all sorts of really interesting information and for a fascinating history of the day. I can imagine that if we were able to move about safely many of us, and surely many of the students, would be planning on taking some sort of action on Wednesday – protesting, learning, teaching.
Certainly, LREI’s Sustainable LREI committee would have invited us to participate in some gathering. (Follow SustainableLREI on Instagram at “sustainablelrei.”) Alas, we are not able to go out, to gather, to join together with one voice in defense of our home. So what to do?
Here are a few thoughts from me (and know that I am not an expert) on how you can use your time at home to observe Earth Day (and every other day). At LREI we don’t serve meat on Mondays. Meat production comes with a significant environmental cost. Decreasing meat production would have a positive environmental impact. That said, there are ways to mitigate the impact that eating meat has on the environment and meat is an important part of many people’s diets. This is a complex issue. If you are of the mind, it is worth contemplating.
Looking for simple rules regarding diet? Michael Pollan has three:
Eat food. (Less processed and closest to the way you find it at its source.)
Not too much.
(He also has another list with 83 rules. If you are interested you can find it on the web. Google it.)
Energy – Conserve energy any way you can. (No, I don’t mean by sitting and doing nothing all day!) The impact of nonrenewable energy use may be the most important issue on which to focus.
Transportation – Consider the ways you move about. Energy used in transportation has a significant impact on the environment. How can you minimize the energy you use moving from place to place? This is a hard one.
Think about what is important to you in terms of the environment and climate change and factor these into the ways you engage politically.
I have included a list of suggestions from the high school’s environmental club. Good ideas, all.
It is important to remember that whether we are talking about coronavirus (not unrelated to a number of environmental issues) or climate change, there is a significant intersection with equity and justice. The results of climate change impact the marginalized to a greater degree and with fewer options for ameliorating them than for those whose power and privilege excuse them to some degree from current and impending challenges. Options and possibilities for healthier living and choices that create a sustainable future are also not equally available.
For many, these days of quarantine allow somewhat greater control over our lives. The pace of life, again not for all, has slowed and we can make decisions that are less influenced by the requirements of a fast-paced, busy life. Maybe, with some thought, patience, and commitment these changes can become our new ways of being, even after we move back to our working, hustling, bustling lives. This won’t be easy, but is likely worth working towards.
Want to learn more? EarthDay.org has a list of the “13 Must Read Books on the Environment and Climate Change.” You can also listen to this week’s New Yorker Radio Hour, which includes an interview with Bill McKibben and Elizabeth Kolbert. Interesting stuff.
Looking forward to hearing from you or seeing you soon.
Peace and health,