Wednesday, April 22, 2020

It's Earth Day #50

Hummingbird and Flowering Currant

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Since we’re supposed to be spending it at home, I thought I would post about how, honestly, Earth Day begins at home.

There are thousands if not millions of special places and wild creatures that are under attack from one environmental threat or another. And we should do all that we can to protect them. But if we focus only on them, we run the risk of thinking that doing right by the environment is someone else’s problem.

When I moved into my house almost 13 years ago, my neighborhood was a bit different. Most homes had yards. Less than a quarter mile away, there were a several large plots of open land.

But the Seattle-area economy has been red hot. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but the demand for housing has changed my neighborhood. The tiny house next door is now a large home. The home a few doors down from it is now a townhome complex. And the fields are long gone.

People need someplace to live, and pushing new construction deeper into the wilderness isn’t any better for the planet than the new townhome in my neighborhood. But birds and other creatures also need somewhere to live and I don’t need a third of an acre of lawn.

Over the years, I’ve replaced about three-quarters of my lawn with native plants. And due to the stay-at-home order, I’ve been able to see firsthand how important my yard has become to wildlife. Bees and hummingbirds are constantly feeding on the flowers. Probably a dozen different types of birds have been feeding on seeds and berries. And at least one pair of birds is nesting in the backyard.

Sometimes the native plants aren’t as attractive and lush as a well-manicured lawn, but if we are really to make a difference in the environment, Earth Day must begin at home.

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