Friday, January 15, 2010

Environmental Beauty

I have this belief that living an environmentally-friendly life means not just protecting the earth but also protecting every living thing on the earth. While I personally try never to kill anything .. plant, animal or otherwise ... that's not really what I'm talking about. I'm talking about how and what humans take from nature ... that desire to be excessive ... the idea that if one thing is good, then a billion things is better ... with no thought to sustainability.

If one studies nature, it is apparent that there is balance ... and if left alone, nature seems to check itself. When food is available, a species thrives and typically becomes food for another species, higher on the food chain. Or, if predators don't control populations, the species will grow until the food source can no longer sustain it ... and starvation will check population growth.

At one time in human history, people were part of that balance. We took what we needed to survive but nothing more. Then, man got greedy and decided that more was better. And that had an impact on every species on the earth.

Even at that point, man could almost be forgiven his gluttony ... after all, he was taking plants and animals which would be sold for food and clothing. Necessities! But then, man got preoccupied with status and wealth and looking good. Exotic animal populations were devastated because man (and woman) wanted unusual boots, furs, beautiful feathers in their hats, and trophies on their wall. And "balance" became a thing of the past.

And that's the part I have a problem with ... taking so much from nature that species become extinct. Let's face it ... we don't exactly know what will happen to us as various species forever disappear. We don't know what it will do to the quality of our life ... or to our very existence. I'm guessing that it could be devastating.

While I wandered around the Internet last month, I came upon a disturbing trend ... ornamental feathers. I started to see posts and ads about jewelry made with feathers ... about boas and headbands and dusters and shawls ... all made with beautiful, exotic feathers. They were, indeed, beautiful! But I began to wonder how those feathers were obtained. I'd like to say that feathers were collected as birds molted. But, that's just not the case. They are obtained in ways that I won't mention here ... it's too ugly.

In the US, laws state that feathers can only be obtained from domesticated birds. So, the majority of them are a by-product of the poultry industry. But are we simply using every part of the bird, as advertisers would tell us ... or are birds being raised specifically for their feathers? We've talked about the environmental cost of raising animals ... it's extremely high. Additionally, if the demand for ornamental feathers increases, does anyone believe that it won't be met ... and met with more and more exotic species? That opens us up for the reduction and/or elimination of bird species because of their beauty. It happened in the 1800s ... it could happen today.

We've talked about meatless meals ... because they are environmentally friendly. Let's expand that to include meatless, or animal free products ... because they are also environmentally friendly.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!