by Hendrik Beune
“Summer time, when the living’s easy…”
“I am sitting at the top of the bay, watching the tide roll away…”
These two tunes play in my head when I think of the summer season, and they are served with side dishes of visual images of the many outdoor festivals that I have enjoyed throughout the years.
On many hot days, I took refuge in the forest where the respiration and transpiration of the trees elevated oxygen levels and cooled the ambient temperature. I recall the fragrance of the pines, enhanced by the moisture of a nearby waterfall, and am looking forward to tonight’s barbecue, which is best set on the beach, at a river’s edge or the shore of a lake.
These foods will satisfy my body and mind, even more so if I can look forward to sleeping under the stars and ponder on the splendor of the universe!
Though most of us can conjure up similar reminiscences, there are many who aren’t able to experience these wonderful aspects of summer. Occupied with the daily hustle and bustle of the city, many of us miss and forget about our true intimate connections with nature.
Perhaps summertime, then, is the best time for us to take a refresher course on the principles of sustainability, which may revive us spiritually and have a lasting effect throughout the rest of the year. Is that really necessary, you may ask. Yes, it really is, I say! I am asking you to live in the moment with a more Zen-like awareness of your surroundings and what is really going on and important to all of us and the planet.
Let me introduce you to the three basic tenets of sustainability: planet, people and fair share. We cannot live sustainably if we wreck our planet, ignore the rest of our society or the basic human rights of other people (and other sentient creatures should be included as well), or live wastefully and take more than our fair share. If we all kept that in mind and tried our best not to break any of these three basic rules, we would live with less strife and pollution and thus be creating a more sustainable world and a just society around us. If you think about it and try to practice it, your life will become more functional and harmonious. Amazingly, you’ll find your attitude and priorities in life will change. You may soon be taking steps to become a permaculture designer and apprentice yourself!
“Fair share” is both good for the planet and good for the economy, and there’s a lot that individuals can do to support this principle. Please support the low-income binners at the daily street markets that occur on the sidewalks of the downtown core, offering recycled goods for sale. Rather than buying food at the lowest-price big-box supermarket, support local by visiting the farmers market. Grow your own vegetables at home or help out in a community garden project. A reminder to gardeners: don’t forget to plant your winter-garden soon, before the end of summer! Above all, make sure that you recycle and treat all creatures kindly and fairly!