Don’t Love Nature to Death: Ten Ways to Care for Your Park
By Nikki Arvidson
A Christian that doesn’t care about the environment is a living paradox. As servants in God’s Kingdom, we must honor God’s command for us to protect Creation. Further, guarding your park from pollution will speak volumes to the restoration work that God has done in your heart and is
doing on earth. By now, we’ve all heard about how important it is to care for the earth, but at first it can seem pretty overwhelming and expensive for anyone, let alone a broke financially challenged college student.
We’ve been there.
In order for you to be the most prepared steward of your park, here are ten ways for you to be an outstanding guardian of the environment this summer.
1. Water Bottle Game
How are you flexing your water bottle game? Do you have more stickers than you can count, or are you going for that clean-cut look? Whichever style you fancy, the point is that you’re not walking around flaunting one of those plastic water bottles. Plus, you’ll save so much money
over time by just investing in a nice water bottle. Simple enough, right?
2. Carpools Are Cool
If you live in a big park like Yellowstone or Glacier, odds are that you’ll be driving a whole lot. Do the earth a favor and cram as many people as (safely) possible into your car before you drive off into the mountains. If you have enough space, bring some of your co-workers with you as
well! Being stuck elbow-to-elbow in a car is a sure way to build friendships.
3. Be the Weird Trash Person
Do you ever see people on the side of the road picking up trash, and you wonder to yourself what they could’ve possibly done to get an assignment like that? Well, it’s time to place yourself in their shoes…literally! Grab a trash bag as well as some gloves and get to work. When people ask
you what you’re doing, you can explain ACMNP and the restorative work Christ is doing in your park (and your heart).
4. Off-Roading is Only Cool if You Have a Jeep
It might be fun to pretend like you’re Lewis and/or Clark, but the Park Service puts a lot of work into creating trails to protect plants and wildlife. Try to stay on the trails, and check with your local park ranger to see which areas might be safe to frolic through.
5. Make “Official” Friendships
Speaking of park rangers, you’d be well-off if you formed some friendships with them! Not just because they’re cool, but also because they might need some help with certain conservation projects. Who knows? That might lead to an opportunity to share your faith!
6. Pack it Out
To fulfill your hiker hunger, you reach for a nice crispy apple. But without trash bins in the middle of the woods, what do you do with that apple core? If your first instinct is to throw it into the bushes because it’s “biodegradable,” think again! Some foods can take years to biodegrade!
Likewise, if you throw a banana peel out of your car window, wildlife will learn to find food on the side of the road, increasing their chances of approaching humans and/or getting hit by a car. Save the banana peel throwing for Mario Kart, okay?
7. Poo-Free Parks
Hey, if you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. Just remember to bury it six inches underneath the ground. You might invest in a small shovel as well as some biodegradable toilet paper. Just saying.
8. Shorten Your Shower
We know, we know. After a long day of housekeeping or working in a kitchen, all you want to do is take a nice, hour-long shower. But did you know that the average shower uses 5 gallons of water per minute? That means even a 30-minute shower is 150 gallons of water! Even if you cut your shower by 2 minutes, you’ll save 10 gallons of water. Take that, high school math!
9. The Straw Problem
We’d all like to start using steel straws, but the problem is remembering them when we go out. That’s why there are collapsible straws that fit onto a key chain, and you can buy one on Amazon for less than $10. Wash it out at the end of the day, and you’ll be ready for any iced coffee that
comes your way!
10. Have a Conversation
Like you’ve heard a million times: the people you meet working in the national parks come from all different walks of life and backgrounds. Some people might not see the world the same way you do, and that’s okay! Embrace those friendships, get out in nature with them, and be aware
that conversations about your surroundings can often be a passage into talking about caring for the earth and the One who made all of this!