“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” -Native American Proverb
I saw this quote this week while completing the UPS sustainability personality quiz, and it made me stop in my tracks. If we change our perspective about how we look at the world around us, how will we change our behavior?
We should remember that the world is not only ours, but belongs to the generations that come. This is the premise of a sustainable mindset that can be translated across disciplines, from science to politics to business.
In July, I experienced this sustainable mindset first hand when visiting the Big Island of Hawaii. The Big Island preserves its natural, historical landscape, with volcanic rock composing the terrain, homes built of natural materials around the green and black sand beaches, and petroglyphs scattered through the forests and parks. The locals are one with nature, and cherish the natural beauty that the island provides.
One interesting symbol of sustainability I came across was the green Hawaiian turtle, or the “honu,” as the Hawaiians say. I snorkeled with honu at the beach of Fairmont Orchid Hawaii and saw them swimming at the black sand beaches throughout the Big Island. I learned that honus are sacred to Hawaiians. Besides knowing that honus are adorable, I was curious to learn about their symbolism. I came across this article, which describes the significance of honus. Honus have existed for 150 million years! According to Hawaiian mythology, honus are “a bearer of good luck, a frightening monster to be released among enemies, a living bridge that brings two lovers together and the foundation of some of the [Hawaiian] islands.” They tend to swim around coastal waters and are “prey to pollution, speed boats, fishing nets and plastic and trash in the water.” To protect them against plastic pollution in the water, Big Island grocery stores no longer use plastic bags. This is one example of how Hawaiians are protecting their land and heritage, and thinking about the future.
As a token of the sacred symbol and a reminder to live sustainably, I purchased turtle earrings made out of shells. I aspire to live like the Hawaiians, appreciating my surroundings and remembering that any path I take will impact those who follow me.
What other symbols of sustainability have you noticed in your travels? How have they changed your mindset to think about generations to come?