Visualize Regeneration on Earth Day and Every Day

Certain occasions call for reflecting on issues that need changing, lessons learned, and celebrating small successes. Earth Day is one of these occasions. Since 1970 many of us have considered Earth Day as a day to focus on the environment, correct destructive habits, and visualize a better planet for the future. It’s important to keep in mind that visualizing is an ongoing process. For this reason I like the idea that we can visualize regeneration on Earth Day and every day forward.

I plan to visualize regeneration on Earth Day and every day forward with the hope that we will live a more eco-friendly existence on earth, giving back as much as we take. Visualizing Earth Day ongoing could help us avoid unnecessary waste, take action to reduce fossil fuels, and focus on regeneration of the planet.

Regeneration is not a new idea. In Small is Beautiful, E.F. Schumacher emphasized the urgency of less talk and more action.

“Our most important task is to get off our present collision course. And who is there to tackle such a task? I think every one of us, whether old or young, powerful or powerless, rich or poor, influential or un-influential.”

Each of us must understand the problem and help to re-chart a new course for spaceship mother earth. Out of necessity and requirement, new methods of production and new patterns of consumption can be designed for permanence, regeneration and sustainability.

In an essay written a couple years ago, Herbert Girardet declared our current definition of sustainability not very helpful. The commonly agreed definition of sustainable development (“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”) is too broad and vague. He wrote that we need to shift thinking away from merely sustaining our ecosystems and communities, and begin a more systematic approach of continuous regeneration without delay.

Girardet compared sustainability to a rubber band. The term can be stretched any way we want, and in any direction. Simply put: sustainability as we know it has not been working — or at least not fast enough. He suggested we move beyond merely sustaining our planet and its finite resources, and start finding ways to live by the guiding principle of continuous regeneration. He even went so far as to suggest we incorporate these principles into economic theory taught in universities and business schools.

A systems approach for continuous regeneration would look at urban resources, energy consumption, water use, and waste disposal to plot a new course of action. The new course of action would consider the planet’s healthy ecosystem integrated with economic development.

Regeneration would require development of comprehensive rules and measures for repairing environmental damages in the course of business activities. We would replace depleted soil nutrients, revive urban agriculture, and ensure that carbon is safely stored in soils, forests, and oceans. Instead of extracting finite fossil fuel resources — which we now know contribute to climate change — we would use renewable technologies for powering our cities, and require more efficient modes of transport.

There are others who hope we can visualize regeneration on Earth Day and every day forward. The Regeneration Project — an organization working to bring these ideas into the mainstream — emphasizes the importance of environmental stewardship no matter your faith. We all live on the same planet.

What we can do now, to turn this earth ship around, is continue to visualize regeneration on Earth Day and every day forward. Through this process regeneration will become the norm rather than the exception.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” — Mary Oliver

By Kathryn Thomsen

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Originally published at on April 20, 2016.