What mindset allows an individual to treat the wooded roadside like a trash bin? I can only surmise that such an individual has lost (or never developed) healthy ties to the natural world. I suspect Joel Salatin would agree. In his book, “Folks, this ain’t normal” he suggests that never before has humankind been so separated from its sources of food, structural materials, and energy. Many people no longer have a visceral connection with these basic human resources. Items just “appear” on store shelves or at the pump. Without that connection trashing the roadside may seem perfectly acceptable.
Western society has been blessed with innumerable conveniences and comforts resulting from hard work and a consumptive economic model. This system encourages us to continually expand - seeking and consuming resources. We develop useful new products only to discard them in favor of the next latest thing. It grows the economy and provides a high standard of living, but as Salatin would say, “It ain’t normal.” A consumptive economy is ultimately unsustainable over the long run, and it separates us from compassionate stewardship of the environment. No wonder some treat the earth as if it’s a trash bin.
A New Year’s Challenge - How can we individually and as a society begin moving toward a lifestyle that is prosperous yet doesn’t rely on endless expansion and accelerating exploitation of finite resources? How can we develop a more “normal” partnership with the environment? Perhaps part of the answer includes enriching our ties to the natural world and helping our children do the same. After all, we’d hope that the beauty of a feather propped on a litter-free roadside would trump the convenience of tossing trash out the window because this is our only home. We are forever…Earthbound.