In celebration of Earth Day, Chloe Brown gave an interview with DREAM Communications on what Earth Day means to her and how we can be better environmental guardians. Chloe is a Program Coordinator up at Camp DREAM, where she experiences the beauty of the northern Vermont wilderness everyday. She has made a point to push for Earth day awareness and programming at DREAM and beyond.
What does it mean / look like to be a compassionate steward of the Earth?
“It varies for each person. For me personally, it means educating myself about the area around me, or since I live in a city right now it means learning to maintain my recycling and make sure it gets to a designated place to actually be recycled. Or you know, composting, things that might take a little extra effort to do but in return take care of the earth in a more sustainable way. When I was growing up, we would be like ‘okay, this is an apple core, you can just toss it out the window when you're done because it's organic and will break down,’ but I think now I’ve added an intensional aspect. So now I think I shouldn’t throw this apple down because it's not native to this environment. That's why I like composting because it's centered and an intentional spot to make something out of it. You should realize too that everyone is on their own different path into learning about sustainability and how you can begin to take care of the earth and there are different paths you can take. Just as long as you lead with compassion in educating yourself or others around you, doing day to day actions that better our environment, that’s mostly how I think being a compassionate steward would look like.
Are there any resources you have used to educate yourself on proper ways to be a compassionate steward?
I research a lot online. People on Youtube who have environmental degrees, or articles or documentaries. I definitely like to advocate against brainwashing, that’s a big thing for me. I'm an avid believer in getting rid of some labels that companies use, like “bio-degradable” or using the color green to make things seem clean and fresh, those aren’t regulated. Those are crazy marketing schemes. The internet is a beautiful place, there are pros and cons to that. As far as local places, I know Vemont has a lot of cool programs like Keep Vermont Cool and there is CCL. You know, there are programs like that that are incorporated in states.
When did you begin to be more consciously earth friendly?
I went vegan six years ago, so that introduced me just a little bit into it. And then it kinda was just like a snowball. I realized how my family was buying in plastic, and how we didnt buy in bulk. And little things like that. Or we’re buying toilet paper that's not compostable. Then, I began to reassess my way of living, and to make little changes. It takes mountains to move such a normal thing. The accessibility part of it was really hard too. I feel like that's always a barrier, and it's unfortunate and unfair. I like to hold larger, capitalist businesses more at fault than the individual person, because you know people might not have enough money to buy something that is more efficient or more clean for the earth. I shouldn’t fall back on you just because you can't set aside that money right now. It shouldn't be produced in the first place. Just, start small. It can feel overwhelming. I totally understand that. Do little baby steps to encourage change rather than trying to reinvent the wheel overnight.
What are some facts related to Earth Day or to our responsibility to the Earth that have inspired you to act or change your ways?
I think the recycling aspect, from what I remember, is that only 5% of material that goes into the recycling program is actually recycled. That’s scary. Other things like how glass and aluminum are pointed towards being the recyclable option. Glass being infinitely recyclable (obviously if it breaks that's a different story). Also, the statistics that kind of show how much we’re producing, how much is being recycled, and how much is left over. I read an article about how there are tires on the bottom of the seafloor and how plastic has reached its way into places no human life has ever been, which is scary to think about as well. I think with animal agriculture too, the amount that it takes to keep animals producing and investing in them and how it contributes to greenhouse gasses. The things that get me are the things that I don’t think about. Like how much recycling is wasted. It’s wishful thinking to toss something into the recycle and hope that it gets recycled. If you don't wash your containers or keep lids on your jars. If you put one thing into your bin that can't be recycled it can contaminate the other things and then make
This year Camp DREAM is working with a UVM environmental group to facilitate a better composting system. They are also bringing new seeds to grow in the garden, so we can add our own locally grown vegetables to the kitchen instead of buying at stores. A new plumbing system is also being built to lessen the impact of going to the bathroom on the surrounding environment. Chloe is working on a spreadsheet to help chefs source more sustainable and local food.
Chloe and Amber Combs, a YSM in Northern Vermont, collaborated on a beautiful Earth Day shirt this year which is being sold online. The funds from shirt sales will be used to remove waste around DREAM communities, provide materials for families to build their own gardens or plant their own flowers, and provide more information on how to be a compassionate steward of the Earth.
DREAM encourages everyone to engage with the outdoors and learn about how we can be more compassionate stewards of the Earth. Happy Earth Day!