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January 26, 7:00 pm: Fledgling Northern Saw-whet Owl Migration by Jennifer Vieth, Carpenter Nature Center

February 23, 7:00 pm: The Elegance of our Tallest Birds: Cranes, Herons & Egrets by by Stan Tekiela, NatureSmart

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Terry’s Perch, January-February, 2011

Consumerism

By Terry Houle, MRVAC President

Why does a column about consumerism belong in a birding newsletter? Let’s try to take a look at things with a “bird’s eye” view since everything is connected. At some of the earlier meetings, we have talked about trying to stop sulfide mining in northern Minnesota because we want to keep our air and water clean. Do you suppose if we purchased fewer gadgets that use metals that would reduce demand for raw materials? Or if we effectively recycled electronics there might be a reduced need for those metals?

On the other hand, what happens to those potentially high paying mining jobs if the sulfide mines are forbidden? I’d like to suggest we focus instead on renewable energy projects and rebuilding our power grid, which is ancient by today’s standards. Let’s get more engineers working to find ways to use our energy more efficiently. These improvements will leave a better, cleaner planet to our children and children’s children.

A study by Met Life in 2010 on the American Dream has found that Generation Y (~1976-2000) thinks it is more important to make friends than to acquire more stuff. So maybe Facebook isn’t so bad after all. If we buy less, consume less, we break the cycle of buying stuff then years later having to sell for pennies on the dollar, give it away or toss in the trash just to get rid of it.

I’ve been fascinated with The 100 Things Challenge blog com launched by Dave Bruno three years ago. It is now a grassroots effort to

  • Reduce (get rid of some of your stuff),
  • Refuse (to get more new stuff), and
  • Rejigger (your priorities).

Read more at http://guynameddave or his new book The 100 Thing Challenge.

Or consider Colin Beavan’s book, No Impact Man, and bloghttp://noimpactman.typepad.com.

“For one year, Colin Beavan and his family unplugged from the electrical grid, produced no trash, traveled exclusively by food or bike and bought nothing except food (all of it locally grown). By the end they discovered something surprising; living simply wasn’t just good for the environment; it makes them healthier, happier and richer in ways they never expected.”

Remember, the slogan is really: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – in that order. Yet most of us start at the Recycle end. So, as always, I ask you to be good role models and stewards of our one earth.

De-stress – simplify your life – go birding.