Reconnecting with our Environment

Written by Plant With Purpose on March 16, 2010 in General

by Stephanie Rudeen, Grant Writing Intern

One of Plant With Purpose’s missions that impassions me the most is their desire to strengthen the relationship between people and their environment. This mission might seem especially relevant for the rural farmers Plant With Purpose works with, since much of their work and daily life is centered on the environment. Many rural farmers completely depend on the environment for survival; they may farm for money, as well as to produce sustenance for their family.

For those of us who are not rural farmers, I feel as if our relationship with the environment can become fuzzy. In order to help protect the environment, some may drive a Prius, others may have banned paper towels and other wasteful products in their homes, and those who are a bit more extreme may dumpster dive in order not to waste food. Now, I am definitely not an expert on being green or sustainable, but I try and do my small part for the environment. But I find I often become so caught up in trying to find the newest eco-friendly gadget, or cruising through the Toyota website to look at their newest hybrid, that I begin to lose sight of improving my own relationship with the environment.

It is easy for me to focus in on the importance of the relationship between rural farmers and their environment in one of the countries where Plant With Purpose works. It is easy for me to think how important this relationship is for people that have to work and live with the land everyday, as I use my recycled toilet paper and bug my parents to install solar panels on their roof. But how often do I question the strength of my own relationship with the environment?

So much of our cultural and social traditions rely on the environment. With continuing climate change, traditions such as sharing stories around an open fire or sipping hot chocolate may become just distant memories when winter starts to become a time to wear shorts and sip iced tea. The traditional Swedish food my grandfather eats is reflective of the seasons as well, pickled herring or dairy products that have been curdled or boiled, reflect the need to store foods for cold seasons. I personally remember kayaking one early morning and watching the sun rise and reflect off a perfectly calm and silent ocean. That memory plays back in my mind as a constant reminder of the importance of the environment in my life.

I think it is important to be reminded of our own relationship to the environment, not just through products, but also through memories and our own social and cultural traditions.

While it may be easy to tell a rural farmer of the importance of strengthening his or her relationship with the environment, it is harder for us to criticize ourselves, especially when so many of our interactions with the environment have become filtered through so many layers. I am proud to work with an organization that pursues this mission to strengthen the relationship between people and their environment, not just by handing rural farmers some green and eco-friendly products, but by teaching them, as well as learning from them, the importance of the environment and how to work with it to improve lives. I must constantly remind myself to take a step back, recall those moments when the environment made me feel alive or more connected with my loved ones, and then look ahead, and see what I can do to make the environment better for tomorrow.

Leave a Reply