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New Year’s Resolutions

January 28, 2018
Goldenrod

Goldenrod and snow in my patch of the world, (c) Megan Draheim, 2017

It’s January, the season we make promises to ourselves about how we’ll live a better life in the coming year. Most of our resolutions focus on our own wellbeing: exercising, eating better, meditating, or cracking an unhealthy habit, for example.

I’d like to offer a slightly different take. Why not promise yourself the gift of creating a more biodiverse world? It satisfies what seems to be one of the major criteria of resolutions, making yourself healthier (there’s abundant literature out there that suggests being around nature is good for you, physically and mentally), but also makes your city (and even the world) a better place, both for people and for wildlife.

So what is this promise I’d ask you to consider as part of your yearly self-analysis? Plant more native plants in your yard or whatever outdoor space you can access. Obviously not all city-dwellers have a yard, but there are other options here: a balcony, a windowsill, lobbying your building to change the plantings in its public outdoor spaces (tree boxes, front walks, etc.), a community garden plot (or, even better, convince the community garden board to set aside one plot or the outside edge of the garden for a native pollinator garden in perpetuity), a corner of your children’s schoolyard, lobbying your city to let you use a corner of the local pocket park – possibilities abound.

This isn’t to say that every bit of turf should be dug up. Instead, take an objective inventory of the space in question. Is all of the lawn actually used? For sitting in, playing in, whatever? If not (and I’m betting much of it is not), consider turning that into a native planting bed. Not only will this help local wildlife (for example, by boosting native insect populations you provide many native birds with more food), but it has the side benefit of reducing the carbon footprint and other environmental impacts of your outdoor space (gas powered lawn mowers become irrelevant, and you don’t use as much – or even any – fertilizer, resulting in less run-off to your local waterways, for example).

There’s something about acting as stewards of our little piece of the world – however little – that is inspiring. You’re committing yourself to care about your local ecosystem and all that lives in it. You’re spending your own resources (time, money) on caring for the world in a tangible way. Watching native bees buzz around your patch of goldenrod is a wonderful thing, when you’re the reason the goldenrod is there in the first place.

And besides all of that, you just might end up with less lawn to mow. Maybe that gives you more time this summer to follow through on one of your other resolutions?

Happy New Year, everyone.

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