What Does Care for the Earth Look Like as an Adventurer?

It’s no secret that we need to care for the earth. Whether we use it in a professional manner or enjoy it for adventure, caring for the earth is something every one of us has a hand in. Even little old me, in my little sphere of influence.
 I was shocked by the state of the trails we frequented as a family. 

The creek bed was covered in trash. 
Plastic bags were tangled in exposed tree roots.
Glass bottles lay half-buried in the sand. 
Frayed tarps flapped in the wind. 
What could’ve been a beautiful place was, instead, covered in garbage.
It was heartwarming to see my kids’ reactions. “Why do people leave so much trash lying around?” they fumed. “We need to clean this place up!” We made plans to buy plastic gloves and come back with trash bags to gather up what others had left behind.
But there’s something rather disheartening about the whole thing. 
Our clean-ups will only be a bandaid on a ruptured artery.

This is our favorite local nature spot. It features a flowing creek, trails through a lush forest, and sweeping grasslands. Unfortunately, just up the road is a land-fill. Anytime there’s a particularly gusty day, trash escapes and floats downwind. And given the number of windy days we experience here in Oklahoma, it feels like fighting a losing battle! 
But THIS is our turf. And my particular position as a mother who frequents the trails presents me with a specific role to play in the preservation of our favorite outdoor adventure locations!
Reflection has led me to identify 3 ways I can take ownership of caring for the earth. 
  • Clean Up!
Even if it doesn’t last, there’s something special about the redemptive work of beautification. We bought rubber gloves and plastic bags and cleaned up our trails! It was hard work and I was so proud of my kids for pitching in. We managed to gather up __ bags of garbage in __ hours. The pride on their faces was worth the effort! They all agreed that we needed to invite friends to join us next time.
  • Minimize Waste
As we cleaned, we noticed how many pieces of trash were single-use packages. Chip bags, pop bottles, wrappers… single-use plastics made up a bulk of our collections. Brainstorming about our own consumption led to the purchase of some important reusables to revamp our own lifestyles! Sealable food pouches meant no more yogurt tubes. Snack tins virtually eliminated the necessity of sandwich bags. The goal is to minimize single-use plastic as much as possible in our home going forward.
  • Educate
We all have spheres of influence and can use them to bring others in with us. For me, there’s an obvious audience in the three little earth-lovers that delighted in caring for Her on our clean-up day. We hope to extend our vision to include their friends! Some of you may have political clout. Others have influence within a company and can push for donations to environmental groups. Still others may be able to lead a community to engage in clean-up days of their own. 
It will look different for all of us. But if we each take the time to find our own areas of ownership, we can care for and preserve our natural spaces for generations to come!