The dedicated life is the life worth living. You must give with your whole heart. – Anne Dillard
Red is the classic color of love. It conveys passion and heat. At Valentine’s Day, boxes of red candy and red roses are the tools of choice for some men who are looking to ignite a romantic response.
However, times are indeed changing and the color red is now being challenged by the more earth conscious color – green. This shift in color doesn’t mean we love our partners any less; it just means we are beginning to love and appreciation the Earth more.
Dating today (yes, my wife Mary Beth and I still go on dates) is a lot different, from an eco-friendly perspective, than it was 25 years ago when we first met. In 1984 we would hit the McDonald’s on the way to the beach and order bags of fast food placed in Styrofoam containers. After we had our fill of the sun, we would jump back in the car and drive the short one-half mile distance from the shoreline to the Boardwalk where we would play Putt-Putt and shop for souvenirs.
While Mary Beth and I still enjoy our time at the beach, our approach has changed based on our knowledge of how we can better protect the Earth for our children and grandchildren and so on. This June we will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. While there is still plenty of interest from both of us to keep the passion and romance alive, we are beginning to learn how to find romantic things to do that respects our planet at the same time.
- Exchange cards or notes made out of recycled papers. Nothing delights me more than to find a card or note Mary Beth has left for me. Today, it’s easy to find recycled cards. Just look for the familiar recycle logo on the back of the card or on the box of note cards. You may also want to check out www.recycledgreetingcards.com. This site offers 100% recycled cards for almost every occasion. The really neat thing about finding a recycled card left for me is my wife’s messages never seem reprocessed. Her words are still fresh and new to me.
- Spend time growing a garden together. Avoiding harmful pesticides is not the only benefit to planting a garden. Gardens help to prevent the run-off of pollutants into our water supplies plus the additional vegetation provides a much-need shot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The most beautiful thing about growing a garden with your partner is the time you invest together. The tomatoes and peppers aren’t the only things that will be growing.
- Feed the birds. Feed them and they will come. Set up birdfeeders in your backyard and then grab a glass of wine or the drink of your choice and plant yourself next to your mate on a bench as you watch the birds enjoy the feast. After finding your lawn, the birds will return the favor by eating the insects that can damage your yard. A little birdfeed is a better choice that a bottle of RAID ©.
- Research and agree to contribute to a good cause. The Internet as we know it today didn’t exist in 1984. We had the library, which is still a good thing, but it wasn’t the best place to go on a date because there’s no talking allowed. Now, we can sit close together in front of the computer and search for environmental causes that resonate with both of us.
Not only can we talk about what we are finding, we can even discuss and argue if we like. Besides, the best part of any argument is making-up afterwards. Attached a worthy cause that will benefit from our resources and believe it or not, we just spent a wonderful evening together.
- Go to a Zoo. Most Zoos are like beautiful parks. Use your time together to learn more about how you can help the environment. Discuss how you can become involved with animals that are facing extinction or are threatened in other ways by a diminishing environment.
Extend the love you have for your partner with the other living beings we share this world with, too. A word of caution: Not all Zoos are animal friendly. Visit Zoos which allow animals to room in their natural habitats, San Diego Wild Animal Park, for example. In fact you may want to visit the San Diego’s Zoo website at http://www.sandiegozoo.org to get a better sense of how a conscientious Zoo respects their animals.
- Have a green picnic. The only thing worse than the Styrofoam boxes used in the 1980s was the mullets were wore – both very dangerous in their respected rights. There are plenty of choices to turn your romantic picnic into one that is environmentally friendly. For example, use real plates; not paper. Reusable cups are a better choice instead of disposable ones. When the picnic is over, don’t forget to recycle. And if your hairstyle still looks like a mullet, you will need to recycle that too before the entire picnic is over.
- Turn down the heat. During the months of January and February in Kansas City, Mary Beth and I really miss the milder winters of Virginia Beach. While we can’t control the Arctic air that moves across the down slope of the Great Pains and seemingly through our front door, but we can control the temperature inside our home.
We have learned to be more energy conscious by turning our thermostat to 68 degrees. While this puts a slight chill in the house, it does provide the opportunity for us to lounge in front of a fire or cuddle closer together in bed. Soon the temperature in the house is no longer relevant.
- Plant a tree together. Trees play an essential role in the eco-system of the earth. Unfortunately, millions of acres have been brutally harvested without any regard to the environmental impact. You and your partner can visit your local nursery to get information on which trees would be best for the climate and soil conditions in your community.
Planting a tree acknowledges the importance of planning for the future. In order to grow, a tree must be nurtured and given time to establish deep roots so when the storms blow thorough, the tree has an anchor – a foundation underneath it to support it. I have known Mary Beth for over 25 years. She is my root system. What we planted a quarter of a century ago has been given time to grow and mature. For us, planting a tree each spring honors Nature in so many ways.
- Keep the car at home and walk. Convenience comes with a price. In 1984, the price for a gallon of gasoline was still less than a dollar. We didn’t think twice about using the car to go wherever we wanted to go. Now we know the emissions from all of this excessive driving have exacerbated the greenhouse effect and its role in the global warning crisis.
Today, my wife and I attempt to walk to our destinations not because of the much higher price of gasoline, but because of our knowledge to care more for our world more. The auxiliary benefit to this approach is unencumbered, and even blissful, time together. With no music playing, no emails to check and with limited distractions, we reconnect and have time to process our goals and challenges together We manage to realize some things more valuable than time when we make the decision to forfeit convenience for awareness.
- Turn off the lights. Keeping unnecessary lights on in your home wastes valuable energy. This concept isn’t anything new. We also know that our energy resources are not unlimited and many are harmful to produce. It is also good to remember that turning off unneeded lights can create a romantic ambiance.
At the end of the day, with the busyness of our lives put on hold for at least a little while, I grab the reading light over my side of the bed as my wife leans into me and places her head on my shoulder and chest. There in the darkness of our room we find peace and closeness and feel thankful for our time on this earth together. Just as we try to cherish and respect what we share, we are also mindful to show respect and tenderness to the earth that has provided such a beautiful stage to play out our lives.