“Therefore strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers.”—‘Abdu’l-Bahá
To help all of us incorporate into our lives actions that treat our physical surroundings with the respect they deserve, the Wilmette Institute has asked Christine Muller (faculty for its Climate Change and Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind courses) to give us monthly suggestions that will help each of us be more socially and environmentally responsible in our lives. We hope that, as we make these suggestions part of our habits, we will collectively be contributing to the elimination of climate change.—THE EDITORS
by Christine Muller
MAY: Ethical and Easy Lawns
Lawn chemicals are very toxic and especially harmful to children and pets. Gasoline lawn mowers cause air pollution and emit carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming. Irrigation requires large amounts of water. There are creative ways to tackle these problems: Reduce the size of your lawn, and plant a vegetable garden, berry bushes, or perennial flowers. Let your lawn naturalize: Without herbicides, you will be able to enjoy an increasing diversity of plants and flowers. The more diverse an ecosystem is, the more resilient it is. Hence you will not need to water or fertilize (instead, leave short grass clippings as nutrients), and you can enjoy the diversity of colors that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá describes in a beautiful garden. Your own children and your neighbor’s cat will thank you, as well as pollinators, other wildlife, and future generations.
Tips from Previous Months
APRIL: Buy Clean Energy. Much of our electricity comes from coal and gas. Burning coal releases mercury into the air, which is very toxic and which accumulates higher in the food chain—for example, in tuna fish. Burning coal also releases many air pollutants that cause asthma and a large amount of greenhouse gases that heats up our planet and disrupts our climate. In many states in the United States, it is possible to buy electricity produced from wind and solar energy in a more environmentally responsible way than is electricity from burning coal. You can buy clean energy directly from your regular energy provider, paying a little bit more (it is tax deductible in some places, such as Rhode Island). But you will be supporting clean energy, which means cleaner air, cleaner water, less damage to the climate, and, for all of these reasons, healthier people. You can find out whether clean energy is available in your state here.
MARCH: Eat Less Beef! One benefit of the Bahá’í Fast (March 1–19, 2017) is that we more often think about people who suffer from hunger. Did you know that you can help reduce hunger all year long by eating less beef? Beef production requires about ten times more land area to feed a person than a plant based diet. In addition, it takes about 2,500 gallons of water to grow the grain for one pound of beef. Moreover, greenhouse gas emissions from cows are a very significant factor in global warming, which causes erratic weather patterns, more severe droughts, floods, and storms. All these impacts on the climate are harmful to agriculture and, therefore, increase malnourishment. For more information, see: http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/at-a-glance-brochure/
FEBRUARY: Do a Home Energy Audit! An energy audit is the best first step to make your home more energy efficient. It usually includes checking your home for leakage, assessing its insulation and heating system, and evaluating your lighting and appliances for energy efficiency. In some states such as Florida and Rhode Island, the government or public utility companies offer attractive incentives for energy audits or for energy-saving home improvements. Of course, using less energy will save you money, but, it also reduces environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change and, therefore, lessens your contribution to global warming. As science tells us, climate change causes much human suffering. Thus, when you use less energy, you help reduce human suffering.
JANUARY: Search as Service! Instead of using Google to search for an answer to your question, use the search engine https://www.ecosia.org/. You will get the answer you need. But, more important, Ecosia will plant a tree for every search you make (using 80 percent of its revenue for the project). Forests are important for biodiversity and water security. They are also good for the climate (they absorb carbon dioxide) and make for happy people. In nine months, one Baha’i “planted” 507 trees and counting.