Friday, November 18, 2011

My Bucket List for the Planet

“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” G.K. Chesterton

That was one of my favorite quotes when I was a young, romantic teenager. I’m still a romantic, although not quite as young as I used to be. And I still believe that one of the best ways to really appreciate anything is to think about how empty your life would be without it. It certainly works with age and time.

When you are young, you think that your time on earth is endless, and you waste an awful lot of it. As you get older, your time is much more valuable to you, and you really don’t want to waste any. Since you can’t do a lot about the quantity of time you have left, you start making an effort to put more Quality into your time. You start making Bucket Lists of all of the things you want to do before you die. You realize you want to squeeze everything you can out of life, and not waste a drop. 

The problem with getting people to learn to appreciate and save things like natural resources…wildlife… the environment…and the planet in general, is that everyone thinks that there is an endless supply of those things. I just can’t imagine the day when there are no more lions or tigers or bears because of habitat loss or human predation, but it certainly could happen. Their numbers are dwindling because of stresses brought about by hunting, habitat destruction and introduced predators and diseases.

 Water, though, is another story. The planet will probably NEVER run out of water. That's because the amount of water is always the same -- it just changes in form. Water from oceans, lakes and rivers evaporates into the atmosphere where it becomes clouds and returns to Earth as rain or snow.

 However, we COULD run out of clean water. Almost all of the water on the Earth is salt water, and 77 percent of the fresh water is frozen at the Earth's poles. That leaves only a small amount for drinking, washing and growing things.

As the Earth's population increases, more people need water and the earth’s supply of clean water gets even smaller. And a further problem, of course, is that a lot of the things that human beings do pollute water which means that we have to spend lots and lots of money to have water cleaned to make it usable again.

 As logical as this all is, people waste a heckuva lot of water. According to the EPA website, the average family of four can use 400 gallons of water every day. Let’s see. The current population of the United States is 312,625,280, divided by 4, times 400 gallons =……. Sorry, my calculator doesn’t go that high. But it’s a LOT. Still, I drive down the road and see people idly running sprinklers in the rain, or letting their hose run down the driveway while they are soaping their car or dog.

 Its hard to get people to understand the importance of conserving water. Around our house, one of the ways that we save water is with our Bucket List. We have a whole slew of buckets and watering cans, and we keep them filled up with water from our rain barrels, leftover water from steaming veggies, graywater from when we clean the hummingbird feeders, etc. We try to restrict ourselves to using JUST that water on our plants and gardens. And like the hours and minutes of our lives, we try not to waste a drop.

 I encourage you to start your own Bucket List for the planet. Put up a couple of rain barrels around your yard. They not only help collect water but are great at cutting down on stormwater runoff, which is one of the main things that pollutes clean water. And then start collecting watering cans and buckets. You can find them at garage sales and thrift stores for less than a dollar. And when you have enough of them, you rarely have to waste any clean water to keep your garden growing.

 'Cause life is short. And we've got a lot more fun things to do with our time than worry about water. Betsy's Bucket List: #34 - Try to encourage a few people to take better care of the planet

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