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Posts Tagged ‘environment’

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. 

John Burroughs

Clare and I walked on water today. It was frozen, but that’s besides the point. We walked all the way to an island in the middle of the lake and it was exhilarating because, even though we were told it could hold a car, we were also a bit unsure  of how smart we were being.

But we’re here to tell the tale!

Today’s hike was a little slick and you had to be careful of your footing. No falls, though!

What I’m loving most about the Finnish countryside is that, for the most part, you live off of what is available. Granted, there is a small grocery store nearby for items like milk, cheese and bread,  but our water comes from the well; the firewood is stockpiled in the summer from the surrounding woods;  blueberries and strawberries are starting to grow everywhere and they’re yours for the picking in the summer. With that ease of access comes a different sort of serenity than I’m used to. We eat well, sleep well and enjoy our surroundings.

In other words, I highly recommend Finland!

Fires are a constant source of heat.

The constant fires require a constant supply of wood.

I love the door handles here. They're all unique.

The pine forests grow alongside the birch forests.

Footprints in the snow.

Silhouettes.

Venturing out onto the frozen lake!

I was hoping to see a fish looking back at us.

Looking back to shore.

Resiliency: the reeds grow despite the thick ice.

Angels in the snow, on the lake.

Making our way to the island. No turning back!

Outhouse lovin'.

A man of the woods.

The ice didn't crack! We made it!

Red rocks and lichens.

Right where she left it.

More stored boats.

The forgotten exoskeleton of some critter.

Bows of boats.

A contrast: greenery in the snow.

Green logs.

The green eyes of Pat the cat. We're unsure of his/her gender, but he/she is very loving.

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From what I’ve seen in the month that I’ve been here, Ghana has a garbage problem. More specifically, a plastic problem.

Yes, goats will eat almost anything, but should they?

Animals eat it, children play in it and it clogs the waterways that run through the cities. While watching the waves roll into shore along a beach in Accra, the debris in the water came into focus. My friend Douglas explained to me that, when it rains (as it had the day before), all of the garbage that people throw into the sewers is emptied into the sea.

A stretch of beach in Accra, Ghana.

Looking down at the beach, I realized that the ocean was literally spitting everything back onto land. The Gulf of Guinea is saying, ‘No, thanks’ (maybe not as nicely). There’s no way for the ocean to regurgitate all of the junk, though. And it’s not just a problem in Ghana: all of our oceans are increasingly filled with plastic and garbage.

The water in most streams found in the city often looks like a science experiment gone wrong.

It’s not just the water, either.

For the most part, I’ve visually adjusted to the litter in the streets. But when I noticed the hollowed out portion of a tree lining the sidewalk had become an overflowing garbage can I was surprised.

A large contributor to this problem is that the ease of using plastic bags and water bottles has taken over here (as it has in the rest of the world). Unfortunately, recycling has not.

At least, not on a large scale. Efforts by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) such as Global Mamas, Trashy Bags and the Baobob Children Foundation to repurpose the plastics lying around Ghana are helping. Purses, wallets, rain coats and other accessories have been made out of the various plastic containers.

But I think the mindset of the larger population also needs to shift before sanitation improves.

In Tamale, a city in the north, I noticed that the streets aren’t as cluttered. I mentioned it to someone and he explained that it had to do with poverty and people reusing everything for monetary purposes. While that could be the case, I’ve seen a high level of poverty in Accra, too. And garbage. Why haven’t they followed suit?

One form of recycling that I’ve seen in Accra is both clever and interesting to look at: broken glass as a safety measure. Slather some cement on top of the wall surrounding your house, strategically place some shards of broken glass and ta dah! Your very own home security system.

Yes, I’ve seen garbage in other countries. I’ve never seen so much in one area, though. And what I find even more disheartening is that it’s difficult to pinpoint a solution. Charles Moore, an oceanographer, discussed the effects of our ‘throwaway society’ on the environment at a TED talk in 2009.

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