Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snow and Acts of Sustainable Living

A foot of snow lies on the ground here in southeast Iowa.

Across the fields on rural Maharishi University of Management's campus, paths have been tramped by many feet, the snow packed down on the paths, and today's three inches of snow light upon the fields, a fluffy topping to the nine inches already on the ground. There has been little wind and, therefore, little drifting of the snow today.

This is an article on ecological sustainability, so the tracks packed in the snow by students and faculty walking instead of driving are signs of healthy living. This morning I came to campus early before the morning rush, and even on the city street fronting the east side of the campus, there were no car tracks. My early arrival was on an even, white blanket of snow marked only by three other sets of bicycle tracks and the footprints of two people walking. This was another good sign of sustainable living.

I ride my bike slowly through the snow, traveling faster than a walk but still at a deliberately slow pace. I have no desire to take an icy fall. A friend did that last week and still sports a huge, mottled bruise on her face. But I can poke along, even getting off the bike and walking when necessary. Then the bike becomes my "walker," providing some support over the icy section of road.

I engaged in another sustainable living activity this weekend. I gift-wrapped and prepared copies of my book for mailing. The wrapping paper was newspaper, and the "ribbon" was twine--biodegradable, even if the packages get some curious looks. The mailing packaging was cardboard cut from free boxes from the local grocery store, a homemade box quite easy to make, actually, since the book is a thin one.

These are small steps in my personal life toward a lifestyle more respectful of the needs of the earth. They have some impact on the environment, but they have a large impact on my personal life. I exercise regularly. I enjoy the gift of my living, even if the gift I am receiving is a stiff, icy northwest wind in the face. I look for possibilities for recycling--and am pleased to find that I can save some money doing so.

I used to camp with my dad when I was a kid. He would tell me, "Always leave the campground in better shape than when you arrived." It's kind of like that: in all ways, the world should be a better place for our having walked upon it. Even if that walk involves some ice and snow.

Copyright 2010 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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