Tag Archives: Earth

Day 101: Standing on a legacy


Taughannock Falls, Trumansburg, NY.

I’m standing on the edge of a gorge and I’m looking at millions of years of rock history in front of me. You don’t have to be a geologist to know that these rocks are telling a story. In this case, the rocks under my feet were deposited 380 million years ago – before the supercontinent called Pangaea was formed, before dinosaurs crawled the Earth, and much, much before human beings were even thinking about existing.

The forest and the gorge that cut through the rock are also very, very old. The ecosystem that comprises the forest must have settled as the temperatures stabilized in the last couple thousand years, and the canyon that is in front of me had to due with the way things ended at the last Ice Age ten thousand years ago – with deeply dug out lakes and streams that now have to plunge into these lakes. This situation, along with the erosion of the underlying soft, silty rocks gave Ithaca its catchphrase – Ithaca is Gorges.

I’m standing at the rim of this gorge admiring the beautiful landscape that took millions of years to form. Not only that, I’m appreciating that I have a body that took millions of years to evolve, too. In fact, if we get into it, most of what makes us up isn’t really us, but our inheritance. Our bodies and the atoms and fluids that make up our bodies have been around for millions, maybe billions of years. Our evolution from a lowly life form, like from one of Earth’s first known organisms, stromatolites (cyanobacteria, or blue green algae) to a rationally thinking mammal took billions of years.


500 million year old stromatolites in Saratoga Springs, NY. The bacteria formed sticky mats which trapped sediments, forming these odd rings that fossilized.

But we don’t have to think in billions of years to realize the small creatures that we are. We’ve inherited a lot ever since we were born. We inherited knowledge from previous generations, infrastructures that were already in place, education from our parents that has been passed down from generations. In fact, a lot of where we are in life has to do with the cards we were dealt at birth. If you know how to play your hand well, you make progress, and you may leave something behind to be used for future generations.  If you don’t, you wreck a lot of your inheritance and then some – you become a hinderance to mankind as you waste its resources, instead of becoming an asset.

Knowing that, how do we make better use of the “hand” we are dealt? What sort of legacy are we leaving on the Earth, and for the next generations?

The first step, I think, is recognizing how really small we are, recognizing all the work that already has been done in our favor, and feeling grateful for it.

A lot of our “pride” and “success” is actually 99% due to the work that was already set in place by our ancestors and 1% knowing how to make good use of it. We get a “free ride” just by being born into the 21st century and into a family who will raise us to adulthood. Being grateful for our quota of privileges makes us realize how much other people influence our existence, which brings around the second step: feeling how interconnected life is.

Your accomplishments are likely the result of hard work, perseverance, practice, and patience. But they are also the result of your parents, family, educators, coworkers, and the work of whichever scientist/musician/government/you-name-it you’re building on. Let’s face it – you’re where you are because people have helped you, and because systems/knowledge have already been set in place by other people who are long dead – which brings us to step number three: being an asset to humanity by encouraging this interconnectedness.

You know you could have never gotten where you are without help – so naturally, this should prompt you to be the most helpful, loving citizen/family member/student you can be. Do we always do/remember this? Of course not. But it makes sense that if you want to further the evolution of mankind, you have to be a working cog in the machinery of life, and not a stuck piece of metal that is grinding on the rest . . .. which brings me to step four: What are we doing to the Earth?

All of our impacts are being felt on the Earth. Are you helping or hindering the Earth? Are your actions impacting positively or negatively the environment around you? When students study rock walls millions of years from now, will they find more fossilized traces of your destruction than foundation laid out for their success?

Being humble, realizing how much your life is weaved with the lives of others, and being a positive force in the machinery of life is essential to leaving behind a positive legacy for our future generations. The future of our Earth is not so much whether we will find the resources to erase our destruction, but stopping our destruction by its roots. It means forgiving within our own family, if we wish to see this forgiveness extend to countries at war; it means adapating our own lives to minimize our impact on the Earth, if we wish our government to do the same; it means living life in a way that favors warmth, understanding, and compassion, as we needed to have that in our lives to get where we are – and so will future generations.

Saving the Earth is more about giving up our ego than anything else – what do you think?








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Day 75: Prioritize what’s important

As busy human beings, we tend to stress and worry about everything. We’re juggling a lot – living life, working, dealing with people, ourselves, and maybe even saving the world. We spend a lot of time worrying about problems that don’t need to be worried about and making stress the spotlight of our attention. Sometimes, it’s good to worry about problems as you try to come up with possible solutions. Other times, not so much. How do you know when you’re overdoing it?

Simple: ask yourself what’s important. What’s your priority for today, this week, your life? Is that what you’re thinking about most of the time? And if you’re thinking about something else most of the time – are those issues really worth thinking about?

For me, Earth-saving is one of my life goals, and the reason I started this blog was because I realized I wasn’t focusing that much on it – even though I consider it to be the most important aspect of my life. I tend to stress too much about the “little things” – the things I do wrong and wished I could go back in time and fix, how I wish people/life would treat me differently, how I wish I had more resources or a different life style. But none of those things define my life. What I do with my life, defines my life.

Now that I’m refocused on Planet Earth, I realize that writing every day might be too much of a burden and not as of much use. Though I love writing and sharing, other Earth-saving activities such as reading books, news, watching documentaries, brainstorming ideas to reduce my ecological footprint and writing lesson plans are equally as important. Now it’s time to prioritize what’s important, and actually doing more than just saying. And when I do sit down to write, hopefully it will be more qualitative than quantitative.

So here’s my thought – all of our actions start from the mind. If we’re not thinking that much about saving the world, chances are you’re not going to act on it that much, either. If we recognize what’s not that important in our lives and stress less about them, and at the same time make other, bigger life goals our priorities, we have a better chance at achieving those goals.

For Earth-saving, that means worrying less about daily mishaps and never pushing the Earth to the backburner. The question you should ask yourself is: is this issue really so important that it’s taking up more time than saving the world?!

If the answer is yes, maybe you need to spend more time outdoors.


Wolf in Yellowstone Park. Source: National Park Service






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Day 59: 10 good (and ecological!) deeds


A crowd of smiling faces in Ivory Coast. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Doing a good deed for someone always results in more goodness in the world. You can’t fight evil by putting more evil into the world, right? Doing random acts of kindness not only is good for you (what comes around, goes around) but it is good for humanity. Every time you choose to be nice, you’re putting a little more awesomeness into the world.

Now imagine you do something good that is also ecological! How awesome is that?! Not only are you doing your share to leave less of an impact on the planet, you’re helping someone get there, too – and reducing the impact of that person on the planet. I can’t even count how much “good” you get out of helping someone be a better human on Earth – it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Not only are you being environmentally friendly, you’re actually doing more than your share. Pretty cool, huh?

If you want bonus points on being an Earth-savior, check out my tips below.

  1. Cook a vegetarian meal for someone. Often people don’t have time or mind-energy to think about adopting a greener lifestyle, like taking meat out of their diets. By cooking them a vegetarian meal, you’re 1) showing them that it’s possible and tasty 2) filling someone’s belly with veggies instead of meat – that’s a win for the planet! 3) actually being nice to them by saving time and resources 4) showing them some love.
  2. Sort someone else’s trash and make recycling easier for them. This could even be done at work.
  3. Bring palm-oil free cookies to work.
  4. Listen to someone you normally wouldn’t listen to or on ideas you normally wouldn’t listen about. So much good comes out of listening – people feel appreciated, cared for, loved, and they will be more open to your ideas (ecological ones included).
  5. Forgive your roommates for stealing your soap. Letting go of anger instead of exploding is also an act of kindness that makes you a better person in their eyes. (They will also be more likely to listen when you gently ask them to not leave the water running.)
  6. Let people borrow your tools/sharpies/books/camera/stuff. The more you lend, the less people have to buy new stuff, which isn’t good for consumerism.
  7. Pick up random trash on the street/beach. I’ve seen countless people take on a beach challenge (picking up all the micro trash within a radius of their beach spot) or street challenge (picking up all the trash on their daily walks/commutes). It makes the environment cleaner, nicer, and less likely to be a death-trap for animals. Don’t leave it just because you think the trash guy is responsible for picking it up!
  8. Do someone’s dishes for them – especially for that person that loves to leave the faucet running. Do it for the environment!
  9. Give someone a ride, or car share!
  10. Offer to run an errand for someone, knowing that you could do it with less carbon dioxide (going by foot to do grocery shopping for your eldery neighbor , picking up something on the way home for your friend, mailing a letter for your family member that would rather use a car instead).

Like these? Have more? Share your ideas, I’d love to hear them! Kindness is what makes the world go round.

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Day 57: Treasure what you have


Earth Observation taken during a night pass by the Expedition 40 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Source: Reid Wiseman/NASA

A lot of the “save-the-world” messages have this mantra in common: treasure what you already have. Consume less. Use your own local resources instead of traveling. Teach kids to love their backyard and the Earth. Play outside.  These messages all encourage loving what you already have and making that love last.

Today, when I received news of a car accident that injured a fellow Earth-savior who I hold in high esteem, I felt this message from a different, darker point of view: treasure what you have now, before it’s too late.

In the case of the Earth, you are the one that determines “when” or “how fast” it will be “too late” to treasure the Earth. You’re an active participant in the Earth’s demise – or it’s survival. What you do now will affect the future.

Are you part of the population that is contributing to climate change – rising seas, disappearing land, forests, global warming, mass extinctions?

Or are you part of the population that is trying to change that situation? Are you making the world a better place?

Do you wake up every day and do your very best, because you know your days and your time is precious? Do you treat every moment as a chance to do the right thing, or do you ‘take a break’ from saving the world?

I know we all are far from living our lives to the fullest. But you can put your day – this day, this moment – to its best possible use by reminding yourself that you only have a limited time on Earth. And you want to leave the best possible legacy that you can.

True Earth- saviors never take breaks. They understand the seriousness of saving the planet. Every day is a chance to educate, adopt more eco-habits, be nice to others, raise your voice to those that are hurting others, and spread Earth-love. Every. Single. Day.

Treasure your time and energy – put them to good use. Treasure your Earth – know that it’s not finite, and it won’t last if we don’t take care of it. Treasure your family, your possessions, your life – they all are gifts.

The Earth needs you. It needs to be treasured, appreciated, and protected from our own actions. Are we getting there yet?

I hope so.







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Day 45: Dear Earth, Happy Valentine’s Day! An Open Letter to the Earth


Flamingos on Lake Nakuru, Kenya. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Dear Earth,

Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s true that even though I love you most of all, I often forget to tell you “I love you” every day. Sorry about that. I’m making up for it by doing small actions to show you that I love you. I know, I know, it’s about what I do, and not about what I say – but hey I’m getting better, aren’t I? I’m trashing your place less and I’m loving more of your pet humans (and that’s pretty tough, some of them bite!). Just hang in there, and please don’t blow a gasket with all the CO2 I’m still emitting. I can do better, I promise.

Can I just tell you how amazing you are?! You are one gorgeous planet – the MOST beautiful in my eyes, anyways. Your oceans are so mysterious – I don’t think scientists have an idea of half of what lurks in them. Your ice caps are dazzling.  You blow everyone away with your majestic display of feathered birds, scaly toothed reptiles, giant pachyderms of Africa, and the cutest koalas in Australia, to name a few. The biodiversity you’ve gathered is truly stunning, and you’re more capable of creating, designing, and imagining than I ever will be.

And you’re so smart! That trick you did with coordinating pollination with insects, so that plants, bats and insects all work together and benefit from each other? That was smooth. Not only you’re smarter than me, but you’re more artistic – I really like what you did with Florianópolis, that island in Brazil. What were you thinking, designing 42 unique beaches, a tropical rainforest, giant sand dunes and a couple lagoons on a single island? Sheer artistic genuis! I hope we can keep it as beautiful as when you first rented it out to my fellow humans.

You do everything for me – I can’t tell you enough how important you are to me, and how loving and forgiving you’ve been. You feed me, clothe me, pay for all of my expenses, give me shelter, warmth, and love (I really love some of your pet humans- thank you for them). Your oceans absorb most of the CO2 I put out there thanks to your oceans’ awesome buffering capabilities.  I know it’s starting to be a burden for all of your coral reefs and your atmosphere has never seen this much carbon dioxide. I’m getting worried about us – are we going to be ok? Can you still take this much abuse from me and my fellow humans as we learn to adapt our lifestyles? We’re still learning what a healthy relationship means.

I can’t ever lose you. Keep up the good job.

Love you to infinity and back!


Catherine xoxo



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Day 26: Teaching kids to love the Earth


My lovely bf gave me this model of our solar system (the sun lights up and the planets move in orbit). I’m showing it to kids for the first time tomorrow – I’m excited to see their reaction!


You save the world because you love it, right? And you love it because of what you’ve come to know. You love seeing the stars at night, you love how animals look and act, you love pristine environments, you love taking a hike up a mountain, and you love walking on the beach with a beautiful clear ocean. These things trigger our sense of beauty, inspiration, peace, and connection with the Earth or a divinity, and most of us use nature at one time or another to get those feelings.

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Day 13: Wonder at the universe

Today I invite you simply to wonder at the vastness of our universe and our place in it.

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