Simple Habit Change Results in Two Big Wins

Simple Habit Change Results in Two Big Wins

You regularly hear that change is hard. Well, it can be but it can also be easier than you think. 

Over the past few years, I’ve made a simple habit change that resulted in big wins for me and the planet.  That made it a simple and joyful change —  a double win!

Most of us have come to acknowledge that many of our well-intentioned, learned habits are having a measurable and negative impact on our planet. As our lives have become increasingly busier, we have adopted habits that appeal to our desire for convenience and personalization, without considering the dark side of the new habit.

Take, for example, bottled water. Access to good drinking water is an important issue. The low cost and portability of PET bottled water is the reason bottled water consumption has grown from 50 billion bottles per year in 2003 to more than 480 billion bottles sold in 2016.

It’s anticipated single use plastic water bottle consumption will grow another 20% in 2021.  

Okay, makes sense, right, since most of us are choosing to drink water over a carbonated, sugary beverage. Water is a much better beverage choice and single-use bottled water is easy, inexpensive, and portable.  What’s the problem?

 

Plastic Bottles in Garbage

Once the spring, mineral, purified, or distilled water is consumed, where does the single-use plastic bottle go?  Most of our plastic water bottles end up in our landfills and oceans.  We are learning now, too, that micro-plastic from our PET water bottles are ending up in our bodies. Are we becoming walking, talking water bottles?

This leads to my joyful habit change: replaced single-use plastic bottles with reusable bottles.

My family and I love boating and lake life.  We have owned a lake cabin and boat for 20 years and spend as many weekends as possible out on the lake.  Like most families, we’d stop at the grocery store and pick up a 24-pack or two of bottled water to last us through the weekend. At the end of each boating day, we’d gather all of the spent and barely used plastic water bottles (those that didn’t accidentally fly overboard into the lake) and throw them away.  Overtime, as we learned more about plastic pollution and its impact on climate change, we got better at separating the plastic water bottles from the rest of the trash and bagged them for recycling.  We felt good about that change.  But seeing the volume of our plastic trash did make us feel a bit guilty.

 

A couple of years ago, we purchased eight reusable and insulated water bottles that matched the colors of our boat — a nice addition.  
Reusable Bottles

Each weekend, instead of buying 24-48 single-use plastic bottles of water, we fill our insulated bottles with filtered water from our kitchen and enjoy them on the boat. We bring extra water in a gallon container to refill the bottles, if needed. The water tastes good and stays cold. No more wasting money on bottles of water barely consumed or trying to figure out whose water is whose. The amount of trash to remove from the boat has significantly decreased and we no longer haul a bunch of plastic trash to our city home for recycling.

I estimate that we consumed 1,000 to 1,200 PET plastic bottles of water each boating season.  When you multiply that by 20 years, it totals as much as 24,000 plastic water bottles! 

As a result of this simple and joyful habit change, we have reduced our contribution to plastic pollution by 3,600 single-use plastic bottles over the past three summers alone and we are only one family.  Also, as a mother I have lowered my frustration level over wasted money, barely consumed water bottles, and wrangling trash pick up after a long day of boating.

Simple changes by each of us can make a big difference especially when added together with others making the same change.  

If 10 more families made the switch to reusable bottles, we’d use 36,000 less single-use plastic bottles.  If 100 did the same, it would total 360,000.  If 1,000 families made the habit change, the reduction would total 3.6 million less plastic water bottles consumed.

What habit will you change to make a difference for you and the planet?

Amy Bates

OPL Chief Marketing Officer Amy Bates shares her experience in making simple habit changes to improve quality of life and protect the planet.

Learn more about Amy here.

For the Love of Maple Syrup

For the Love of Maple Syrup

Spring is the season for maple syrup production. Personally, as a naturalist, I try to eat what is in season in my part of the country and support local farms, Community Supported Agricultures (CSAs), and farmers markets. I love maple syrup, maple sugar, and maple cream. I love it in my coffee latte, on pancakes, in yogurt, mixed with peanut butter, coated on walnuts, baked in granola, on ice cream, and in baked beans. You get the idea. Maple syrup is a great substitution for granulated sugar.

The color of maple syrup is determined by how early the sap is collected.

The color of maple syrup has nothing to do with the grade ( AA, A, or B) but rather for how early the sap is collected.  The earlier the sap is collected the lighter and sweeter it is, and more preferable — perfect on pancakes.  The later the season the darker the syrup becomes with a heavier taste in the maple flavor and the darker syrup is perfect for baking.

Maple syrup is a wonderful delicacy and to my amazement there are many who have never tried it.  Could it be due to the expense as compared to the other pancake syrups?  Once you taste maple syrup, it is hard to turn back to other sweeteners.

Maple Syrup Colors
The history of maple syrup is quite intriguing.  

Did you know that maple syrup is one of the oldest agricultural commodities produced in the U.S.?  There are several stories written regarding who first discovered the process of turning sap into syrup. Was it the Canadians or Native Indians?

According to a Cornell University blog, sugarcane was grown in Brazil and the West Indies around the year 1500. Sugar from the maple tree (Acer saccharum) was soon discovered. Among the colonists, one of the first references is dated 1664 when British officials mention sugar from trees in Massachusetts. A letter of 1684 enclosing some maple sugar from Canada, indicates that the Native Indians have practiced the art of maple sugaring longer than any living among them can remember.

Several prominent men in history were involved with maple sugaring. 

Benjamin Franklin encouraged massive sugar production in the Northeast to make the country less dependent on “foreign” sugar. Judge William Cooper (1754-1809), father of the journalist James Fenimore Cooper who held large acreage around Cooperstown, NY, bought maple sugar from the early settlers. Thomas Jefferson was an ardent advocate of large scale maple sugar manufacturing. He transplanted trees from New York State to establish a maple plantation on his Virginia Estate, Monticello in 1791.

For more information and the history of maple syrup production, visit the Maple Museum Centre located in Croghan, NY. Founded in 1977, the museum has preserved New York State’s maple legacy.  Although the museum is currently closed due to COVID 19, you can visit their website for a virtual tour.

The process for making maple syrup begins in winter.

In order for sugar maple trees to grow, they need snow.  Each winter, a deep blanket of snow, 8 inches deep or more, covers about 65 percent of northeastern sugar maples. Without this insulating snow, the soil freezes deeper and longer, damaging the trees’ shallow roots.

Maple trees accumulate starch in their roots and trunks, especially in the period that precedes winter. The long accumulation of this starch makes it easy to convert it from the original state to sugar.  Sugar Maples have the highest concentration of sugar, approximately 2.5 percent more than other types of maple trees.

The process begins in January when taps are installed in the maple trees. They are placed about four-and-a-half feet up from the ground in a tree that is 12 inches or greater in diameter; trees larger than 18 inches in diameter can accommodate two taps if placed correctly.

Large Tapped Maple Tree
Multi-tapped Maple Trees
Sap in Red Bucket
Close Up of Maple Tap
It takes about 43 gallons of sap from sugar maple trees to make one gallon of maple syrup.

At the end of February and early March before the trees bud, according to Cornell University, ”temperature fluctuations of warm days and freezing nights trigger a cycle of sap flow throughout the tree. Warm temperatures above freezing in Spring, pressure develops in the tree and causes the sap to flow out of these taps and then siphoned into buckets or lines. Then, with colder temperatures below freezing, suction within the tree pulls in more water to make more sap. When the fluctuations in temperature lessen, the sap stops flowing.”

Since the sap contains a high water ratio — 98 percent water and only 2 percent sugar, it has to undergo processing for the water to evaporate. Through a heating process, what is left behind is the final product of a thick concentrated syrup.

Experiencing maple syrup production first-hand is fascinating.

For personal use, my friends tapped, siphoned, collected, and cooked 60 gallons of sap from the maple trees in their backyard. The maple sap was cooked down in a 20-gallon container for a period of 8-10 hours until the evaporation process of water turned into an amber syrup.  In the final boil,  syrup was heated and filtered three times to remove concentrated minerals. The amount of syrup yielded was 1 ½ gallons. 

At a nearby university farm landscape, there are several Sugar and Red Maple trees.  Students from the food study and sustainability programs learn from authentic experience nearly the same processes as my friend only on a larger scale with more maple trees tapped and sap collected.

Several years ago in the middle of March while visiting family in Upstate New York, I was enlightened about the Maple Syrup Festival held in Thurman, NY. (The 2021 Festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19.) It’s a great opportunity to visit a couple of the maple farms ranging from 27-853 acres, producing maple syrup for generations and learning more about the process of producing syrup commercially.

The commercial processing of maple syrup is similar but slightly different from small production.

At the farm, trees are tapped, siphoned, and lines are run from tree to tree to an area where the collected sap is stored. The commercial processing of maple syrup begins by feeding it into an evaporator where it is heated to remove excess moisture. Like sauce bubbling in a pan on your stove, this removal of moisture concentrates the sugars. Once the maple syrup reaches a 66 percent to 67 percent sugar concentration, it is moved to a finishing pan, then cooled, filtered, graded, and bottled.

There are many health benefits from maple syrup.

One tablespoon of maple syrup provides over 30 percent of the daily value (DV) for manganese, a mineral that supports bone health, collagen production, and wound healing. Maple syrup also delivers smaller amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. It has about 200 calories per 1/4 cup, zero cholesterol, and zero fat.

The overwhelming majority of maple syrup is produced from trees in the forests where no herbicides, pesticides, or preservatives have been applied. Therefore, most maple syrup would be considered organic.

Climate change threatens maple syrup production.

A study published in Global Change Biology warns that without snowpack, maple trees are projected to grow about 40 percent slower. As climate change reduces the amount of deep snow in New England, the study says this spells trouble for the trees as well as for humans.  It is the maple trees that enable us to make a living by producing syrup and also deplete a lot of carbon pollution.

“If temperatures keep increasing and the snowpack keeps shrinking, it suggests that our maple forests are going to not grow as much and therefore not sequester as much carbon,” says Pamela Templer, a biology professor at Boston University and senior author on the study.  Templer says as forests pull carbon dioxide out of the air and store it in trees, plants,and soil, they can offset somewhere between 5 to 30 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

According to the Urban Forestry Network, in one growing season, one sugar maple along a roadway removes 60mg cadmium, 140mg chromium, 820mg nickel, and 5,200mg lead from the environment.

As the saying goes, “Blood is thicker than water, but maple syrup is thicker than blood. Therefore my loyalties lie with pancakes.”

Let’s go out and plant some more sugar maple trees!

 

OPL Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer

This experience was shared by OPL Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer.

Learn more about Yvonne.

Birdwatching is fun for the whole family

Birdwatching is fun for the whole family

Birdwatching is a great way to get out in nature, appreciate the beauty of our natural world with minimal impact on our environment, while at the same time rejuvenating ourselves.

Several years ago, I learned that “Birding”, the recreational sport linked with birdwatching, was one of America’s favorite outdoor activities.  In a 2019 article, “How popular is birdwatching?,” John White states, “It has become one of the fast growing hobbies in North America, and in Canada more time is spent birdwatching than gardening! Birdwatching is now a multi-million dollar industry and one of the strongest magnetisms for ecotourism.”  Since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, with more people being outdoors and social distancing, birdwatching has grown to be even more popular since his article was written.

Is there a difference between birding and birdwatching? 

Birdwatching is more of a casual activity while birding is more of a passion or sport.

If you are a person who feeds birds in your garden, are familiar a few local species, and notice new bird varieties that visit, you are a birdwatcher.

A birder is someone who watches birds in their garden and is driven to seek and find specific birds.  A birder studies birds and is able to identify a large variety of species.  They often keep a list of the birds they have seen and submit their bird sightings to citizen science projects.

Have you seen the hilarious movie, The Big Year, filmed in 2011?  Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, and Jack Black are extremely competitive birders. They assemble their lists and travel all over just to increase their number of rare species sighted, trying to be the number one birder of the year.

The Big Year (2011, PG)

Starring Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, and Jack Black

As a birdwatcher/birder, I can understand the humor as one afternoon my daughter-in-law stopped by to visit.  As she walked into the dining room, I was looking out the window noticing a newcomer in the birdhouse.  I had seen this bird about five years ago flying from tree to tree while bicycle riding on a nearby rails to trails.  It was a Blue Indigo Bunting, such a vibrant blue color.  I was so excited.  My daughter-in-law said that you should get the binoculars.  She was surprised and laughed at how quickly I had access to them.  She too marveled at how beautiful that bird was.  That Indigo Bunting came back to the feeder the next day.  I haven’t seen him since.  I hope that he remembers his flight pattern and stops by this year.

How do you get started in birdwatching or birding? 

Start by paying attention; take time to listen and notice the birds that are in your area.  You may already know how to identify a bird by its melodic song whether it be from a robin, mourning dove, blue jay, or woodpecker.  Begin to flip through field guides, bird books, and magazines to identify the species of birds that you are noticing.  You can always pick up a bird checklist that details local birds in your neck of the woods at your local home and garden center, Audubon society, botanical garden, or local park service office.  Aspen Song sells wild bird food for bird feeders and has a great wild bird checklist called, Who’s in Your Backyard?  You may find that your increased interest in birdwatching may prompt you to go birding in other parts of the country or world.

Being a birdwatcher is a great individual or family affair and a great way to invite nature into your backyard habitat. 

By providing bird houses and wild feeders, we invite our beautiful feathery friends to eat while at the same time we enjoy watching their mannerisms, listening to their songs, and marking our checklist identification.  My backyard visitors inspire me to plant more native plants, flowers, and shrubs that will attract more species like hummingbirds, cardinals, bluebirds, woodpeckers, etc. to my backyard and feeders.  The birds have inspired my family and neighbors to add bird feeders to their own backyard habitat for their enjoyment.  Thus far, we have recorded twenty-five species of birds in our backyard.  We have also noticed that Blue Jays happen to be the messiest birds, scattering seed all over as they eat.  No worries though for the chickadees and sparrows will clean up the mess that they left behind on the ground. Here are some of our most recent bird sightings:

Female Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of seven states. Females have a sharp crest and warm red accents as shown here. Cardinals don’t migrate and they don’t molt, so they’re still beautiful in winter. In summer, their sweet whistles are one of the first sounds of the morning. Only a few female North American songbirds sing, but the female Northern Cardinal does, and often while sitting on the nest. The oldest recorded Northern Cardinal was a female, and was 15 years, 9 months old when she was found in Pennsylvania.*

Male and Female Mallards

Mallards are the most familiar of all ducks and live throughout North America and Eurasia. The male is very recognizable with his sleek green head. Almost all domestic ducks come from this species. Mallards are strong fliers and have been estimated traveling at 55 miles per hour. The quack sound we associate with ducks is is the sound of a female . Males don’t quack; they make a soft rasping sound.*

Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers are large, brown woodpeckers with black-scalloped plumage. While it’s not where you would expect to spot a woodpecker, you may find one on the ground as they eat mainly ants and beetles. When they fly you’ll see a flash of yellow in the wings if you’re in the East, and red if you’re in the West. The Northern Flicker is strongly migratory and they most commonly nest in holes in trees like other woodpeckers.*

Great Blue Heron

Seeing a Great Blue Heron is a beautiful sight. Heron’s may move slowly, but they are lightening quick when snatching a fish. In flight, the heron’s stretches out its neck with long legs trailing out behind. Despite their large size, Great Blue Herons weigh only 5 to 6 pounds due to hollow bones.  The oldest recorded Great Blue Heron was found in Texas and was at least 24 years, 6 months old.

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gulls are sociable and can congregate by the hundreds.  While the species is common on coastal beaches, many live inland and never see the ocean. These birds are strong flyers and will circle and hover looking for food.  They’ll be nearby if you bring food to the beach.  You’ll often see them around trash sites, golf courses, newly plowed fields, and beaches.

There are free apps to learn more about identifying birds, their songs, habitats, and behaviors. Here are two apps we like.

  • Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab – Once the app is installed, Merlin Bird ID will ask you to pick a bird pack.  The bird packs are birds listed in all countries of the world; the United States has eight bird packs to choose from.  Since I live in the Northeastern part of the U.S., I chose that list and found 338 birds featured.  All that is required is to simply take a picture of the bird from your phone or camera roll and the Merlin photo ID app will give you access to a list of possible bird identifications.  After the photo is taken the bird ID will ask where did you see the bird and gives you two options to choose from, current location or a map.  According to the website, “Merlin also includes more than 29,000 curated audio recordings from the Macaulay Library, identification tips from experts, and range maps from Birds of the World.”
  • Audubon Bird GuideThe Audubon app enables you to track your sightings by keeping a log of the birds that you see and the location of the site.  They will notify you when a bird that you wish to see is nearby.  There is also an opportunity to share your photos with the public photo feed, family, and friends.  The setup is quite easy; you simply download the offline field guide, data, and sounds.  Once the content is completely downloaded you are ready to begin your birding experience.  You may want to begin with listing the birds that you see in your own backyard. You can even list the birds that you wish to see and a notification will be sent to you if that bird is near your location.
Tips for birdwatching

  • Be excited about your sightings – maybe draw a quick picture and write a note in your nature journal about what you have seen and heard.  In your journal, report the time of year, time of day, weather and temperature.  It is really interesting to go back and review your journal entries.
  • Whatever activity you choose, hiking, bicycle riding, or walking, in addition to your necessities make sure to add in your daypack, tote bag, or hip sack, a pair of binoculars.  You just never know when you will see a red-tailed hawk, eagle, blue bird, tanager, etc. in your area.  It is really a good idea to invest in a decent pair of binoculars.  I have listed a couple of websites in the resources for more information on binoculars.  In western PA, we have an eagle webcam hosted by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, in partnership with PixCams.  It is amazing to watch this American bald eagle (U.S. national symbol) in her nest and see first hand how she protects her three eaglets.  Check out your area to see if you have anything like that; it is quite fascinating.  “According to a new report in 2020 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners, bald eagles once teetered on the brink of extinction, reaching an all-time low of 417 known nesting pairs in 1963 in the lower 48 states. However, after decades of protection, the banning of the pesticide DDT, and conservation efforts with numerous partners, the bald eagle population has flourished, growing to more than 71,400 nesting pairs.”  Now that is really something exciting to read as birdwatcher/birder.
  • Use your downtime to explore what is going on in your own location.  Check out the trees, shrubs, waterways, fields,  and streams.  Listen to the sound of birds; relax and enjoy while you meditate and watch their actions, beauty, and power of flight. You can always bring a hammock with you on your next visit to a local, state, or national park, find a relaxing spot, and observe.

The more you learn about birds, the more entranced you get about how intelligent they really are.

Have you ever heard the phrase of being a bird brain or have been called one?  Well it turns out that it is quite a compliment.  Jennifer Ackerman writes in The Bird Way, “The bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring.  It’s flight and egg and feathers and song.”  She goes more in depth in writing that, ”In the past decade or so, birds have revealed their ability to solve problems, using advanced cognitive skills rather than simple instinct or conditioning, learning by association.  These sophisticated mental skills – such as decision making, finding patterns, and planning for the future – are what allow birds to flexibly fine-tune their behavior in response to challenges of all kinds over their lifetimes.”  So the next time that you are called a bird brain, say thank you!

The importance of protecting our natural environment.

As you ponder about our feathery friends and learn more about birdwatching, you will understand the importance to create, support, and promote a relationship between ourselves and the natural environment. Our time, talent, and resources are needed in volunteering, in protecting and restoring our wildlife and habitats, and for sustainability and conservation projects.

OPL Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer

This experience was shared by OPL Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer.

Learn more about Yvonne.

Tomato, Peas, and Feta

Tomato, Peas, and Feta

 

This recipe made with tomato, peas and feta makes a lovely lunch bursting with flavors!  This is a recipe from Greenfeast Spring, Summer by Nigel Slater.  We loved this lunch and it goes well with an iced tea, lemonade, or white wine.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the dressing: 

½ lemon, for juice (or simply use a tablespoon of lemon juice)

6 tablespoons of olive oil

8 mint leaves (if you have them)

Handful of parsley (you could substitute basil)

 

For the major components: 

3 tomatoes, sliced

Fresh peas (here, I substituted frozen about 1 cup)

feta cheese, crumbled, ⅓ cup

Radishes & spring onions

tomato and feta
Peas
Instructions:
  1. In a small food processor, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, mint leaves, and parsley.  Process until it is a thick dressing. 
  2. Slice the tomatoes and place on the plate; top with pepper and some  of the dressing.  
  3. Clean and cut radishes and spring onions and add to the plate.
  4. Combine the peas, feta cheese,and the rest of the dressing; then add to the plate.

Enjoy!

Lorie Buckingham Home Chef

OPL Founder & Wayfinder Lorie Buckingham Shares a Favorite Recipe

OPL Plant-rich Recipes

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

Five Questions for Our Naturalist

Five Questions for Our Naturalist

We are so pleased to introduce the newest member of the One Planet Life family.  Yvonne Dwyer is our resident naturalist and we are honored to have her on our team. Yvonne brings a nature-centric perspective to OPL and will share her insights, experiences, and recommended back-to-nature excursions with the OPL community.

We recently sat down with Yvonne and asked her five questions which she gladly answered.

What exactly is a naturalist?

A naturalist is also commonly referred to at times as a nature lover, tree hugger, natural historian, senior or junior National Park Ranger, or outdoors woman.  It incorporates many facets of studying and understanding our impact on one another, human impact on other species of life, and our impact on the environment in which we live. 

As a naturalist, I  spend a lot of time in nature through activities such as hiking, biking, bird  watching, camping, canoeing, fishing, foraging, snowshoeing, skiing, and  forest bathing. I love to record what I see by taking tons of pictures and to write in a journal recording my personal experience and then share what I have observed and learned with family, friends, colleagues, and patrons throughout my many careers. 

I am considered a native naturalist. My experience has been a lifetime of observation, growth, knowledge,  conservation, and volunteer environmental stewardship. 

Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer Collage
What made you become a naturalist?

It has always been my passion to learn more about nature, discovering this naturally beautiful world year round in all elements. My love for nature began at the age of seven in a little community on Oneida Lake in Upstate New York. The front of my home faced the lake and acres of woods were my backyard. One day, I found some bi-fold doors in the trash and dragged them into the wilderness to create a fort. It was quite a creative fortress that I built and it enabled me to spend time outside. The incredible beauty of the ground cedar, mulberry trees, wildflowers, raspberries, and other foliage that surrounded my fort year round was captivating. As a young Girl Scout, being outside and participating in hiking, camping, scavenger hunts, and creating arts and crafts from an array of flowers was always exciting to me. Thus was the beginning for a lifelong love for the great outdoors and becoming a naturalist.

What have you gained by spending time in nature?

Experiencing our natural world has helped me to slow down, take in the  beauty that unfolded before my eyes, and reflect on simplicity, diversity,  sustainability, and conservation. Whether it be in our local, state, or National Parks, the Adirondacks, the North Country National Scenic trail, our Rails to Trails, the ocean, in a rainforest, or in other countries like Canada, the Bahamas, or, as far away as, New Zealand.  By using my senses to embrace the environment, my excitement of gratitude, respect, and awe continue to grow as I recognize how fortunate I am to experience this love of being outdoors. I love watching the many species of birds fly, how they nest, and how they take care of their young.

What are your thoughts about human impact on nature and the environment?

Sustainability is intricately connected to nature through the air that we breathe, the water we drink, and the food that we plant and eat. We are continually learning more regarding our daily impact on the environment by studying the interesting formation of rocks, glaciers, different sea shells and fossils along our ocean coasts, foliage in the rainforest, plants and healing, and of course, the importance of mammals, aquatic animals, reptiles, and coral. Environmental health goes hand in hand with our own individual health, wellness, and fitness, both mentally and physically.

What can individuals do to make a positive impact on the health of our planet?

There are so many things that individuals can do to sustain our planet. One way to get started is to experience nature and share our love of the planet with others. While working at REI, I lived the core purpose of the company which is to “inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.” Anytime you get the opportunity to work with an amazing group of individuals who are passionate about conservation and outdoor sustainability it changes you.  Understanding the impact of my choices allowed me to make new choices.  For example, I am diligent about leaving no trace in all outdoor activities.  This single action protects the natural areas from trash, polluting the water, and harming wildlife.    This ripples into other areas of awareness and changes from the clothes that we wear, the tools that we use for outdoor recreating, the food we eat, and the impact on our carbon footprint.

At the end of the day, our goal should be to be great stewards of this earth — our home — to create a culture of love, understanding, community, diversity, sustainability, and conservation in a manner that our planet can say, “Thank you.”

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