Choose Closer to Nature, Closer to Home

Spring is blooming in England! London’s downtown bustle is set to the chorus of songbirds, and Devon is abundant with fragrant blossoms, stirring even the most hurried to stop and savor a breath. What could possibly be better? (Asked with a charming British accent.)

Well… the timing. Just like at home in Colorado, spring is occurring earlier, dryer, and warmer here in Europe. While visiting the Restorative Leadership Institute‘s curricular partner Schumacher College, one of England’s agro-forestry experts Martin Crawford shared that our ecosystems are advancing north by 10 miles a year. According to UK’s Guardian (3/26/2012), the second week in March saw historic heat waves in more than 1,000 places in North America. A new report also shows that the global land area with extreme summer heat has grown from around .1% in 1980 to 10% now. It is evident that the question is not whether global warming is happening, but what do we do now? For starters this spring (gardening pun fully intended), we can do all of the following.

Choose closer to nature, closer to home:

As consumers, if we use this guiding principle in making purchasing decisions, we can minimize the impacts that our choices have on climate change. “Closer to nature” means that products approach their natural state and are as free of processing and packaging as possible, while “closer to home” means they are sourced as locally as possible, all to reduce the energy inputs and waste outputs of the production and distribution cycle. Perhaps the biggest area for positive influence here is with our food choices, so bon appétit while buying and growing locally!

Expand our carbon offsets:

Whether working in the not-for-profit, private, or public sector, the time is now to add offsets to our sustainability operating systems. Carbon offsets can be used not only for air and auto travel, but also for cloud computing and social media strategy. One of the highest yield choices for mitigating climate change is rainforest protection and afforestation, so at the Restorative Leadership Institute we have chosen Sustainable Travel International for offset purchases that safeguard and restore rainforests in Africa and Brazil. Of course, we can all reduce the need for offsets when we reduce our flying. Which of your trips can be cancelled or combined?

Plant trees:

While it may seem cliché, trees are miraculous carbon sinks. If you do not have a place to add a tree where you live, find out where in your area you can help plant one or join the Green Belt Movement in the Billion Tree Campaign. At the Restorative Leadership Institute, we are working with the Wildlands Restoration Volunteers to plant willows near Lyons, Colorado on Earth Day.  What a simple way to serve our children’s and grandchildren’s quality of life!