Volume 17 Number 3
What are You Doing About the Environment?
01 June 2004

We were encouraged to pick up and admire spiders and all manner of other creatures and wonder at their diversity rather than scream and stamp on them. How many kids get a similar opportunity today?

I’M A keen naturalist with a particular interest in birds. I feel passionately about preserving the countryside. Whenever I see a familiar tree felled or hedgerow ‘butchered’ I take it like a personal injury.

At school I was fortunate in having a teacher with a love of nature. The best lesson of the week was nature study when we would go out into the local fields and climb trees, and see how many different leaves, birds or flowers we could find. We were encouraged to pick up and admire spiders and all manner of other creatures and wonder at their diversity rather than scream and stamp on them. How many kids get a similar opportunity today?

A local heath was cleared for gravel extraction several years ago and was eventually used for landfill. Gone for ever was the sea of yellow gorse and broom; in its place a sterile overgrazed horse paddock. I think of that loss and the ridiculous amount of waste generated to fill all those holes in the ground and do my best to recycle as much as possible at home. It’s up the paper bank, bottle bank or clothes bank all the time.

Landowners, particularly the smaller ones, are not averse to blocking footpaths or removing footpath signs. A quick word with the local Council’s Footpaths Officer can often convince people of the error of their ways! Similarly if you consider a particularly fine tree is worth protection under the law, it does not take too long to obtain a preservation order.

So my advice is to get out and walk the highways and byways and keep a watching brief so that good husbandry is encouraged and our offspring have something worth inheriting.
Brian Thomas, Waringham, Surrey

WELL! I’M trying to do my bit on several levels. Firstly, I’m lucky to be employed in the environment/conservation sector. I work on behalf of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust both raising their profile with the public and trying to swell the ‘army’ through recruitment.

The Trust also promotes sustainability both at individual and organizational levels. Two examples—we offer subsidized compost bins to encourage recycling and we have an initiative to show how we can all reduce energy output.

To practise what I preach I have two bins myself and have replaced all my light bulbs with low energy types. (It’s been said that if every household in the country replaced just one bulb with a low energy one, the energy saved would allow us to close down one nuclear power station!)

I also garden in a wildlife friendly way—not using chemicals or slug pellets, and leaving ‘untidy’ areas to provide micro-habitats. I also grow a mix of ‘foreign’ and native plants to provide food sources.

My main ‘hobby’ entails working for the Trust in a voluntary capacity as County Recorder for Dragonflies. This involves collecting and collating sightings sent in to the Trust. The dataset formed as a result is an invaluable tool used, for example, as ammunition when challenging planning applications and helping to formulate habitat management plans.
Steve Covey, Swindon, Wiltshire

WHICH ‘ENVIRONMENT’? Is it the physical environment we all share and cope with in varying fashions—that which, when out of balance, threatens our health and well-being? Is it the mental environment which frustrates us in our efforts to communicate with each other? Or, in the final analysis, is it our spiritual environment—that in which we protect our personal perspectives and often evangelize our personal truth while shielding ourselves from the possibility of growth?

To distinguish between the three is to miss the point: inter-connection, of course. For we all have an ongoing obligation to take personal and collective responsibility for our selected time on this planet. We can choose to believe that our presence here is little more than an accident of cosmic nature; or we can come to appreciate the vastness of our surroundings and consider that what we are exposed to is more purposeful than arbitrary, more inviting than threatening and worthy of more than exploitation for personal gain.

All of nature appears to thrive in a form of environmental harmony. Surely it offers an example worth emulating.
Lloyd Klapperich, Greenville, Virginia, USA

I AM seeing a counsellor and staying in tune with my body. Changing the world starts with making sure that I am okay.
Samuel Albers, Illinois, USA

THE ARTICLE, ‘Our hand in the future’ (FAC April/May), was a source of great encouragement for me. My wife and I feel strongly about the environment but neither of us is a great lobbyist or keen on demonstrations. You have increased our conviction that the little we can do through our practical conduct and style of life does help.

Take recycling and avoiding waste. A few of us were convinced from the start. Others gradually followed suit and the authorities were able to take more and more stringent steps. Other areas in Italy, where environmentsensitive people are too few, are now faced with such a dramatic situation that garbage is being exported to Germany at an exorbitant cost, which diverts money away from other vital needs.

In other fields—such as saving energy and water or supporting ethical finance—just by starting ourselves we have contributed to changing attitudes and establishing a trend. It so happens that in most cases our choices have turned out to be profitable.
Adriano Caldogno, near Vicenza, Italy

Please send your contribution for the next 'Since You Ask':
How - or why - do you make space for God?
Up to 200 words, by 14 JUNE, 2004.