Earth Month: Climate Change and Reducing Our Footprint – Alter Eco
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Apr 14, 2021

Earth Month: Climate Change and Reducing Our Footprint

As we head into Earth month, we’re reflecting on how we can make simple micro-changes to save our planet. Our CEO, Mike Forbes, believes whole-heartedly in both making systemic shifts and changing our small, daily habits to reduce our footprint. He’s sharing his personal experience with an ever-evolving climate, straight from his own backyard….
Family gardening together
I opened my eyes this past Sunday, feeling the warmth and excitement for a seasonal tradition – spring cleaning in the garden!

I always look forward to this day.  After a few months cocooned in my house watching winter rain splash on the windows, preparing the garden for the growing season is a chance for me to reconnect to the life growing out there and discover new surprises.  


I noticed right away that it was a warm morning.  The overnight in Oakland, CA is usually around the mid-40s this time of year, but it was already over 50 degrees.  The weather report indicated that it was going to get up to 70 degrees, 10 degrees warmer than normal, without a cloud in the sky. Temperatures like these are a mixed bag for me emotionally.  While I love working in shorts in February, it’s also a sign that things are amiss with the climate. I wish I could say this was a one off thing, but it’s been warm and dry all winter in California.  The climate is changing.  


I get my tools and eagerly head outside.  We have two porches with tons of container pots – herbs, succulents, and a few flowering plants with plenty of sun exposure.  We also have a long, sloping front garden that’s typically well shaded below our redwood tree, filled with native plants.


I like to do things in stages - today is about deadheading, cleaning out the debris left by winter and planning what to plant for the coming year.  I love experimenting and trying new things each spring.


As satisfying as it is, gardening is hard work.  I’m more tired after two hours of digging and planting in my garden than I am after any CrossFit session.  I’m sore, but digging in the earth reminds me of the important work that our farmers do every day. It reconnects me with nature’s magic and the life it provides to all of us.


Unfortunately most of our sword fern plants had died and needed to be removed.  The climate is changing.  The incredibly hot and dry weather we’ve had recently in California has puts stress on the native plants.  It reached 105 degrees in the shade of our redwood this summer and we’ve received less than a quarter of our usual rainfall.  For a fern that thrives in damp, shady places that’s a recipe for disaster.  With a heavy heart, I removed six or seven plants that had been thriving for ages.


I put in three hours of hard work and my daughter joined in to have some fun and get her hands dirty.  Seeing the impact of climate change first hand in my garden was a little unnerving, and led to some interesting conversation at lunch.  Was our climate under the redwood tree changing?  Should we be replacing natives with more succulent plants typical of a desert?   


The fate of my sword ferns is just a microcosm of the hard choices we will face in the 21st century. Despite the stark reality of a changing climate, I emerged from my work inspired and excited about new plantings (and new beginnings) in 2021.



P.S. You don’t have to have a garden to make an impact. It’s easy being green! Your entry in the #CheckYourEco Challenge is 1 step towards reducing carbon emissions this Earth Month.
Check out our How-To Guide & join the Challenge!
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