Photo by Taylor Jones

Why I’m Passionate About the Environment

— Jason Reitz
Outdoor Recreation Specialist; Southwestern Intramural and Recreational Activities (SIRA)

A few years ago as I was sitting beside one of the high lakes in the Sierras after 15 days of backpacking with friends, I was treated to the story of the Lorax by Dr. Seuss. The story closes with a call to one of the characters, a call that would help me to realize a new passion and direction in my life.

“But now, says the Once-ler, now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

It was at that time I realized all of this had been given to me for a reason. When I go out into nature I feel certain amazing things. I feel small, impermanent, simple, interconnected, complex, scared, relaxed, peaceful, hopeful, energized. I could list a thousand things, but most of all I feel closer to something that is greater than myself. I can’t tell you why I feel this way, or what that greater thing is, but it makes me stop, think, and feel about my role in this place and time.

As I try to engage in a caring life, how do I reconcile what I feel about my role in the world and what is going on around me? It can be very disheartening sometimes. I live in a system created to consume, not conserve, and that troubles me. I have lived a life of leisure thanks to this system, but I can’t be at peace with this life. So I try to make connections that allow me to become aware of my impact on the world. One of my little niece’s favorite songs says it well, “reduce, reuse, recycle.” I see a lot to connect with in those three little words. When I reduce I consume less, which leaves more for others, human and non-human. I have plenty, more than plenty, so I can do with less. I can actively choose to use items wisely, and hopefully serve as a role model to others. I have gained a profound awareness that comes from looking at myself, the world around me, and how we connect. This allows me to be critical of my lifestyle and make positive changes that I hope will have a healthy effect.

When I came to Southwestern I decided I would not only continue my search for awareness while living a more eco-centered life, but I would incorporate those principals into my entire life here. Through these actions, I hope to inspire healthy change. I am blessed to have a lifestyle that allows me to share my passion for the outdoors with others while being part of an institution that is willing to do something about how we live in this world. My lifestyle allows me to share with others the beautiful wonders of the human race and the world in which we live, while promoting a life that is purposefully creating change. I am also blessed to be surrounded by friends and family who hold similar values and I am tremendously encouraged by those individuals. It simply feels right to care. Together we will continue to bring health to our planet, as the journey is the destination!