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A Smaller Footprint

Posted by davidrosslevy , 27 December 2016 · 406 views

leave no trace recycling environment conservation outdoor ethics
A passing conversation with a volunteer at Olympic National Park inspired this entry about environmental footprint reduction, though we didn't speak about the subject at all.
 
I was in the visitor center last week on a slow day, and asked this gentleman about his job. He said that he was a volunteer, just a few hours a week. "I've gotten so much from this park, I feel it's only right to give something back."
 
That in itself is incredibly virtuous and admirable - something I'll touch on in a future entry. But it's what he said next that really got me:
 
"Imagine if everyone volunteered just one hour a week - imagine what our community would look like."
 
The town of Port Angeles has about 20,000 residents, so that's 20,000 hours of community service a week. Think about what that would mean to this or any community - it's staggering.
 
I then extrapolated the idea of community service to our personal footprints - the resources we consume, how we dispose of it and how often we need more of it ('it' being anything from paper towels to electricity).
 
What if we extended the concept of community service to a smaller footprint, and took 'Reduce, Re-use and Recycle' to another level? What would that mean to a community and our environment?
 
The three Rs are nothing new, but it would be interesting if we looked at it as service to our community, friends and neighbors.
 
Reusable grocery bags is not just something we do to minimize impact on the environment, but a service to the community. Same thing with reusable coffee mugs and a litany of other everyday items we acquire cheaply, use briefly then toss.
 
Most of you reading this are probably environmentally conscious and already act in a laudable way and don't need the preaching(!).
 
But in this entry I'll advocate that it's a form of community service - reducing our footprints for the betterment of people, places and things we encounter everyday. It's a service to them - cleaner beaches, cleaner parking lots and a healthier local environment. It's now even bigger than environmental responsibility - footprint and waste reduction is a service to everyone.
 
As we head into 2017 and make new resolutions, give this some thought. Maybe you'll be inspired to do more of the good you're already doing, and for an even bigger purpose.
 
-Dave

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