A Disconnect in Ecological Perspective
I am always amazed that by having normal human experiences in daily life, I can see new things that I didn’t before. I want to share a story with you where I saw a perspective of a big disconnect. My intention in sharing this is not to tell you to see something in a positive or negative light, but rather to look in a different direction. When you look elsewhere, you may be able to see a disconnection and then create a re-connection.
The other day I was having lunch at a local cafe I frequent. I have a good rapport with one of the cafe owners. As I was paying for my lunch at the counter, the owner was distracted by what was going on outside on the patio. My attention immediately went there as well. There was a wood stork standing next to an empty table. You can’t miss them. They are large wading birds about 3 feet tall with long legs and a hooked beak. When you are up close and personal with these birds, they can be a little intimidating. One of the waitresses had just cleared the table and as she came back in, she told us the wood stork stole a strip of bacon off a plate.
The owner looked at me and we both understood why this just happened. It isn’t unusual for people to feed the wildlife, so the birds know where to get a snack. The rule is you should never feed wildlife. They have plenty of food in the natural environment to eat. The owner was not happy by what just transpired and was visibly annoyed. She went on to tell me how her daughter shows her videos daily of birds tangled in line, wrapped in plastic, being thrown human food, etc. It was obvious that this upset her, and she was adamant at least with the part of not feeding wildlife. I wholehearted agreed with her.
Naturally, I thought this was a good time to ask her if the restaurant was getting ready to switch over to some other alternative items in their restaurant. The city of St. Petersburg had just passed a new law in December of 2018 banning plastic straws and Styrofoam.
Unfortunately, she didn’t know anything about it. I started to explain more about the new law and why it was put into place. Quickly I could see she was becoming anxious. I assured her that there was at least a year for part of the law to take effect. It was obvious though that her thoughts were running fast and furious.
Before I could say another word, her quick response was that businesses are not the ones that throw trash like straws, bags or Styrofoam into the environment, but people do. And people need to be educated on this subject matter.
I was a little taken back by her comments, but not surprised. The first thing that struck me was the disconnect. She understood the importance of not feeding wildlife and why trash in the environment is not good. More importantly, she didn’t see how as a business owner, she was providing the materials to her customers that will become trash.
It was important for me to tell her that a lot of times trash isn’t intentionally placed into the environment. There are lots of reasons why trash ends up in the wrong places, but that is a story for another day.
Our discussion came back to education. Yes, education is a key part of keeping our planet clean and happy and that will always continue. It is important for our fellow citizens to do their part and be responsible, but sometimes even with all the education in the world, people will make a decision that isn’t necessarily in line with caring for our environment.
I realized in my conversation today that we need a more holistic and compassionate approach for business owners. We can gently point them in this other direction.
Naturally and with time, they will be able to see how we are all connected as people to our planet and how their piece of the puzzle fits into the bigger scheme of things. When we work collaboratively, they are also part of the solution to lessening our trash.
We are all humans on this one planet we share. We need to work together to protect our natural resources as our lives literally depend on it. Running a business is in no way a free ticket to degrade our environment on behalf of profits. In order to change our thinking of “business as usual,” we need to slow down for a moment and reconnect with nature.