Back to Nature

Back to Nature

Written by Butterfli O’Shea

My childhood home was one mile from the nearest beach and I had a grassy backyard. My elementary school was a short walk from home, and behind the school was a chaparral ecosystem. The children in the neighborhood referred to it as a little forest, that included eucalyptus trees and a foot trail.

It was often easy, even a relief, for the adults in our lives to take us on a walking trip to the beach or a nature trail. The experiences were adventurous, happy, and peaceful. The more we learned, the more we wanted to know.

On the trail, the mint honeyed scent of eucalyptus was ever-present, the deep yellows and oranges of the California Poppy in cheerful bunches along the path, and various birds flying and floating overhead calling out to each other. Touching and feeling various plants, watching the brown and grey fence lizards scurry up and down rocks, with garden snakes not far behind.

At the beach we’d walk bare foot, feeling soft dry sand and firm wet sand, and feel the grains against our skin when wading in the waves. Seagulls about us, with curt shouts to each other, folding their wings as they landed. The falling sound of waves as they lifted-up and dropped back down. Slippery seaweed, grooves on clam shells, soft driftwood, and the turquoise rainbow inside of an abalone shell.

Certainly, we preferred to go on a nature trip than be inside a chalk dusty classroom or the nagging familiarity of our own backyards. Even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich tasted better outside. Outside we could breathe fresh, clean air.

Rise by @rsvn

Back then, being outside in our natural environment was as expected as tying the laces on our sneakers. When one child found something new, it was a discovery for us all, as our curiosity multiplied itself through sharing, and when one question and answer came along, more followed. We learned about nature, our natural environment, and ourselves. We felt free and energized. It was an unspoken growing together of child and nature, cohabitating on earth.

As time passed, we became adults living varied lives. No matter what path we chose to live as adults, a great majority of us maintained our connection to nature, and many of us became its caretakers in our daily lives.

Our current youth are in more demanding circumstances than generations previous. Our youth have the lure and requirements of technology, for both leisure and school work. This has increased disconnect with our natural world and some people feel discomfort at the idea of spending time with nature. “It is increasingly normal to spend little time outside,” states a report from NatureofAmericans.org1.

The obstacles in connecting youth and communities to the outdoors are few, yet the strategies are many.

Make participating in the outdoors accessible. Many communities have gained success by encouraging various organizations working together, such as schools, parent groups, childcare centers, park agencies, and community-based organizations. Make suggestions at your child’s school, at local organizations, and with your neighbors and friends. There are a lot of great ideas in your own community, and a lot of people interested in volunteering and sharing their knowledge. Each organization or group can mention the activities in their own publications and communications, further assuring more to be informed there is something out there for them to enjoy.

Having a wide variety of outdoor activities for various interests and age groups nurtures the interest of more people, both those you are trying to get outdoors and those who would be willing to contribute their time and efforts. The activities can be traditional, such as fishing and hiking and museums, parks, gardens, zoos. They can also be non-traditional, such as drawing or writing poetry at the park. My personal favorite is the National Wildlife Federation’s Green Hour Program2. It is designed to encourage individuals and groups to adopt one hour per day for children to play and learn outdoors in nature. You can also make this a family activity.

Spending time in nature gives our youth a place to escape their stresses from our over busy and technology demanding society. When you involve other youth, it turns peer pressure into a positive, as they pay attention to a friend’s encouragement to spend more time in nature. “… youth are more likely to associate being in nature with being peaceful, free, calm, and happy than with any other characteristic.”3

“… connection to nature is not a dispensable amenity, but rather is essential to the health, economic prosperity, quality of life, and social well-being of all …”4

End Notes
1. Yale Environment 360, April 27, 2017, 1.
2. National Wildlife Federation, Connecting Kids and Nature, 1.
3. The Nature Conservancy survey, Connecting America’s Youth to Nature, 2011, 6.

| Written by Butterfli O’Shea | “Rise” By @rsvn_


Plastics Are Everywhere

This collection of structured molecules is extremely undervalued and misunderstood about its potential. Lifesaving material used only once or burned as fuel. Used plastics are carelessly discarded, casually just tossed into our immediate environment and oceans. We consume molecular plastics in our food and water everyday and the effects are bad.

Plastics are everywhere

Paradise buried under
8,818,490 tons of plastic



It was New Year’s Eve and my boyfriend and I are so excited to spend this special time surfing on the secluded tropical beach in Bali– This is exactly what we imagined when we left California. After living in Bali for 2 months a local Balinese friend told us about a surfing beach that few foreigners, “bules” as they called us, knew about. We strapped our surfboards on the scooters, threw on a backpack, and headed to this beach on the West side of the island. We were imagining a secluded tropical beach with endless coconuts, turquoise water, and the best waves of our lives! We immediately put our stuff in the new villa and ran down to the beach.

My first thought: What is all the colorful stuff floating in the water? Colorful fish! None of it was fish. It was all plastic. Flip flops, straws, bottles, bags, toys, you name it. The image is forever burned in my mind. It was like looking at a rainbow of plastics covering every inch of the beach, as far as I could see in each direction. We decided to go surfing anyways, what else were we going to do in the middle of nowhere for 3 days? We got in the ocean and were paddling among trash. The feeling I can best describe as swimming in a hot salty soup of trash.

  • @justinhofman
  • @jota_han
  • @rogermillancasas
  • @haram_khor_
  • @_nic.mac_
  • @jilson.tiu
  • @jilson.tiu
  • @randyolson

We don’t want to admit that our oceans are in serious trouble. There are 5 million+ tourists that travel to Bali each year, yet you never hear of what the island really looks like. If we keep going at this rate there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. I wish that this was an isolated incident– but from my travels to other countries, it isn’t.

surfrider.orgPlastic pollution is a problem in many places in the world, but most countries won’t take responsibility or talk about the issues. All you see on the internet are pictures conveniently framed to crop out any pollution. Ask the local Balinese where the trash is coming from and they say it’s all from the surrounding islands in Indonesia. No one will admit that so much of it is directly coming from Bali. I was there for half a year and saw with my own eyes locals throwing truckloads of plastic trash bags straight into the river, only to be washed down to the ocean.

I am lucky to live in such a beautiful coastal town, where we’ve been at the forefront of the environmental movement. Even so, I pick up pollution left on the beaches on a daily basis– often finding cans, plastic bottles, and toys left behind after a day of enjoying the beach. All I can think about is how I need to protect my home from looking like Bali, India, or Panama. After all, the ocean is a big body of water that is all connected and if we continue on the same path, one day all of our homes will look the same as Bali does. Even though plastic pollution in the ocean is a global problem, we can work together to solve this issue locally by taking personal responsibility for our waste.

The average person simply throws out whatever he or she doesn’t want into a bin, never thinking of where that waste ends up. Best scenario the trash goes to a landfill, which is essentially trash graveyards where no one comes to pay their respects. But every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. That’s 8 trillion kilograms of plastic waste, every single year.

Before it’s too late, we all need to solve this global issue. I invite everyone to pay attention to your local policies waterways, and your own plastic use. Together we can rethink the future of our waste and keep our coastlines beautiful plastic free.

| Written by Fari Hadian @safarifariii
| Visuals by Roger Millan Casas @rogermillancasas, Jota Han @jota_han, Justin Hofman @justinhofman, Ganesh Vanare @haram_khor_, Randy Olson @randyolson, Jilson Tiu @jilson.tiu, Nic Mac @_nic.mac_, Cristina Mittermeier @cristinamittermeier, Rich Horner, Plastic Change, National Geographic