I don't know about you, but sometimes I find my green self slipping. From time to time, I neglect to separate out recyclables, or take ridiculously long showers, or forget to bring my reusable shopping bags to the store. In principal, I know it's not good to do this, but occasionally I cannot bring myself to care. It's awful that this happens, but it calls to attention one of the key impediments to environmentalism. You see, it can be very hard to care about something that you rarely come into contact with.
I, like many people, live in a very urban environment. My daily contact with nature involves passing by tiny gardens and scrawny sidewalk trees. My food comes from a grocery store. My water comes from pipes. My trash goes down a trash chute. Because I am so removed from the natural environment, it is extremely difficult for me to realize the impact my daily choices have on it. This doesn't make me a bad person, it just makes me uninformed.
People's lack of information and connection with the natural environment is, in my opinion, the largest hurdle for us to overcome if we are to enact significant change. Environmentally minded people constantly fight for better design, more intelligent systems, and important controls. We desperately need these changes in order for the human race to thrive (and survive), but it's hard for naysayers to realize this when they have a shallow understanding of the many and complex human-environmental feedback loops.
Because it is so easy for people in developed societies to not think about where their resources come from and where their waste products go, it is instrumental that stronger connections be drawn via information sharing and education. In addition, people need to rediscover their emotional connection to nature. The world's forests, deserts, mountains, lakes, rivers, and oceans are majestic and beautiful, and if we take the time to visit them, we will not forget that the earth is worth fighting for.
Visiting the countryside can be difficult when factors like time, packed schedules, and limited money come into play. When this is the case, I strongly advocate local parks, gardens, and museums. Around every large city, one can expect to find at least one, if not several, lovely parks or gardens to enjoy, and more museums than ever are showcasing nature's enchanting flora and fauna. Take the California Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Complete with a green roof, solar power, and a four-story rainforest (pictured above), the Academy of Sciences is one of many excellent urban places to visit that both refreshes one's love of nature and envigorates one's drive to protect it.
Whenever I catch myself slipping, I take a couple of moments to put everything back into context. I push aside my tiny little world complete with its daily dramas and consider the broader scheme of things. Just a couple moments of thought can do wonders. I also make an effort to reconnect with nature whenever possible.
If you, too, occasionally lose your environmental motivation, give these things a try! Reconnecting with nature keeps you thinking and acting green, helps you spread understanding to others, and as an added bonus, reduces stress!