Every day is Earth Day
(But especially this one)
Is this thing on?
I’m just popping in because, you may have noticed, it’s the designated day for caring about the planet, and I’ve missed this energetic eco gang. I also wanted to say that though I’ve been quiet, I’m still here, still trying to make green the new black.
One thing I’ve been doing over the last few months is casually studying permaculture, systems design that embraces natural cycles and material and energy flows. When you have your permie goggles on, you’re looking at the way energy and resources move through a system, and a lovely side effect is that you start to see resources and rich connections everywhere: the empty vegetable oil containers put out by the local restaurants make good winter sowing greenhouses, the rain flowing off the roof can be diverted to the garden, the rejected baguettes from the community fridge can become crackers, the pile of arborist chips in a back alley is perfect pathway mulch, the self-seeded plants in the garden can be dug up and shared.
As I was pushing my wheelbarrow one morning with said woodchips, I was thinking about the word resourceful. It means “having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties,” making the most of what you have. It’s seeing something (including yourself) as being full of resources. It’s active, creative, resilient, and kind of badass.
And while one doesn’t want to have to be resourceful 24/7, like a person living in poverty or managing a chronic illness, most of us can slip on our permie goggles and start to see new resources all around us. They needn’t all be physical resources, either: time and relationships are vital resources. In fact, we can be most resourceful in community, when we each bring our skills and assets to the table. It’s the stone soup parable in action.
It’s also super energizing and empowering to spot opportunities in the world around you. It’s a kind of gratitude practice too, embracing where you are and what you have. Though I dream of a rural space, with big gardens and Indian Runner ducks and space for my many messy homesteader hobbies, lately I’ve been able to appreciate anew how resource-full this city is: where there are so many people there are tremendous possibilities.
So that’s my guiding word, my North Star of the moment. If resourceful resonates for you (or you have your own word), click reply — I’d love to hear about it.
I am also ever keen to hear about what kind of green gains you’ve been making: having a flow of wins into my inbox was a lovely reminder that there are so many of us fighting for a healthier, happier world.
Here are some of the things I’ve been doing lately:
taking Talk Climate to Me, an online climate education course for women and femmes. This is the last live cohort for now, but you can watch the four videos online, and they’re perfect for this group: an upbeat, educational, solutions-oriented crash course in climate communication and action. You can watch the videos (there are four, each 35 to 40 minutes long) on YouTube for a limited time. That might seem like a lot, but I assure you time flies by.
organizing a plant swap at my co-op, and generally thrusting seeds upon anyone who might grow or redistribute them
volunteering with the urban agriculture program at my local community centre
joining the Bike Brigade to deliver food to people in need emission-free
writing some pieces with an eco angle for mainstream outlets: I just had a piece in the Globe and Mail on my ridiculous pollinator wealth, and I wrote a feature about the slow flower movement that will appear in September’s Chatelaine
signing up for two community trash pickups over the next two weeks
co-creating a mini task force with another publisher to figure out how we can make publishing greener (carbon calculator hopefully coming down the pipeline!)
transforming my workplace’s garden into one that’s mostly native and pollinator-friendly
regularly buying food from Too Good to Go and eating it up so it doesn’t go to waste
These are all things that make use of my resources (gardening know-how, writing skills, plant matter, community connections, physical energy, time) and my networks (work, my wider industry, my neighbourhood, my co-op). They’re also things that are joyful, like gardening, avoiding waste, and riding my bike. I’m working within the climate action Venn diagram, courtesy of Ayana Elizabeth Johnson.
So on this Earth Day, in the most important decade of human history, I encourage you to renew your vows to Mother Earth: take five minutes for the planet to make a list of your resources, maybe make your own Venn diagram. (This activity pairs well with a solo walk, taking in the nodding daffodils and budding trees.)
Stay well, stay engaged, and above all, stay resourceful.
Happy Earth Day, pals.
Five Minutes for Planet is written by me, Jen Knoch, and edited by Crissy Calhoun. Opening photo by Javier Miranda on Unsplash.