During the holiday season, people commonly reflect on how “the reasons for the season” and what unites humanity are playing out in their own lives as well as the community, and the world. One thing that comes to my mind as to what unites us is water. Everyone needs it no matter where you live and what side of the aisle you’re on.
Hope for clean and plentiful water begins with taking action to protect it. Currently, we are safeguarding from flooding, storm water runoff pollution, aquatic invasive species, and increasingly, overconsumption of it. But if we continue down the road we’re on, climate change is predicted to exacerbate all of our current issues and pose new ones. Namely, superstorm deluges are predicted to create torrents of water that can blast out creek banks, increasing erosion and mucking up our waters. Murky waters start a chain reaction of negative impacts by reducing sunlight, making it difficult for plants to grow. Without plants, the levels of oxygen (dissolved oxygen) decrease which likely impacts fish and other aquatic life. On the flip side, a more unstable climate also puts us at a higher risk for droughts that could stress our water supply, vegetation, and perhaps even our food supply. Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, often referred to as “carbon (CO2) footprints.”
Peace begins with respectful conversation. We are all on this planet together. We need to learn how to share resources equitably and work together to solve problems.
Joy begins with gratitude. We are Minnesotans. We love our lakes and are grateful for the precious resources we’re stewards of. Lake culture is embedded within so many of our communities. It is a strong part of our regional identity. Lakes are a big part of our favorite pastimes throughout the year—from fishing, boating, and sailing in them to snowmobiling, skating, and skiing on them.
Love is what underlies everything meaningful in life and it starts with putting others’ needs above our own. In this case, it is about putting the future need for a livable world ahead of short term “wants” driven by our desires for speed and instant gratification that are deeply ingrained in our culture. Water is essential for all life and unites all of humanity. Taking care of it is an act of love.
Tips for reducing carbon footprints
• Since heating typically accounts for the largest energy use, using programmable thermostats, getting an energy audit and fixing inefficiencies are important.
• Hot water is generally the next energy use so using a shower timer to limit showers to under five minutes, low-flow shower heads and washing clothes in cold are significant ways to decrease your footprint.
• Hang dry clothes to reduce your use by 5-8%
• Avoid phantom energy use by unplugging electronics when not in use. Phantom energy accounts for approximately 1-2% of energy use worldwide.
• Unplug from media. Read a (paper)book, go for a walk, do a puzzle or play a game.
• Give gifts to people who truly need things this year. If you are giving a gift to a loved one but they don’t actually need anything, how about giving to a charity?
• Reduce need for transportation by working from home (one benefit of our current situation amid the pandemic) using mass transit, using a car-share program, or getting an electric car if it’s within your budget
• Reduce food waste, purchase “ugly foods” from sites like misfitsmarket.com.
• Eat seasonal, locally-grown, organic, regeneratively grown, minimally packaged, plant-based foods whenever possible.