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English Translation of: The Blood on My Hands is the Unavoidable Use of Plastic. Forgive me.

Can I be the person who says we need to protect the planet and at the same time buy another plastic doll for my daughter? Climate change is a global problem and there are small solutions that we can start working on today.

This summer I went to Red Rocks. It was a classic Colorado summer night complete with heat, rain, lightning and lots of happy people. Satsang is an artist from Montana and Michael Franti is a musician from California. Both of them have changed my life with their hopeful lyrics.

“But if there’s blood on my hands, can I still preach?” — Satsang

Or can I still have an opinion? I think so. Nobody is perfect. We can start small and achieve the world we want for those who come in the future.

I live in an area of Colorado that is very different and unique from other parts of the state. Visitors are always astounded and comment, “The trees are very old here, very big, and they have a lot of water.” I don’t know what to do to protect our Mother Earth that I love with all my soul. I am a teacher in a public school and I meet people every day. Americans are changing. Some for the worse, some for the better. I want to focus on the hope that exists in the world. “Start small, think big.” It’s what Michael Franti says.

Live music concerts are very important to human beings. But, the plastic, the trash, the energy.  It pains me to think I should have to stop going to listen to my favorite musicians, especially when they are at Red Rocks. If my hands are stained with blood, do I still have reason to share my thoughts about climate change? I live in the USA, and sometimes I need to use non-renewable things.

I really like to ask and be asked questions. It is my  belief that we should listen ten thousand times more than we speak. Shut your mouth and listen. Put away your phone and look into the eyes of  friends, family, and strangers.

Right after the CDC told us that we were able to remove the masks in May 2021, I started to see a lot of smiles from unknown people. Before, it was not very common to see people smile if they did not know each other. A smile is saying, “We are friends, we are here to stand up, honor ourselves; we are part of the same family.”

And still, the pandemic surges again and again, so when we put the masks back on, let us continue smiling. I can see your smile in your eyes. We are all here for each other.

We are part of the same human family. Marginalized communities are the most exposed and vulnerable to climate change. What can you do for them? How can you change something small while thinking about something big?

Writing with pencil on paper is something that other species cannot do, it is only for us. Humans are different from other animals because we learn to read and write. If we don’t write, are we still human? Are we devolving because we don’t read? As we write, we contact our souls and the souls of our ancestors. Writing is a small thing that we can do to think big, something to connect us to our brothers and sisters in underserved communities. When we start thinking of others, we start to make the small changes that will make big differences.

What are we going to do on a planet without water and clean air? Some of my students told me that they are going to live on Mars. Mars is another planet. We cannot live on Mars. We live here, on Mother eEarth, where we were born and where we should be. We must look at the climate changes on the planet. I don’t know if we can reduce emissions drastically, quickly and sustainably. Is there something small we can do to limit the impact of global warming? Start trying to connect with nature and our ancestors and begin using the land for food. If not for you, can it be for future generations? Or for our friends in marginalized communities?

The water will heal us.

I started my walk this morning, like every morning, silently saying my mantra: “The water will heal us.” I say it in Spanish to myself each day, “El agua nos va a curar.” However, the water can’t heal us if we pollute it and use it all up.

We need to protect water, trees, nature and animals. But how?

Every morning I get up early and walk in the woods near my house.

The plants call me. I touch them and I smell them. The juniper and the piñon smell like my mother’s perfume, her soul is always with me in the Colorado forest. I feel happy in the mountains of Colorado. I am at home and I honor our state. The water comes out of the mountain where I live and when the water comes from  the peaks it is pure, it does not carry pollution. It is just rain and snow. As a mother, I want to connect with the water, I want to tell her to do well, but I don’t know if the water can do well. Water has no other choice. It comes out of the mountains and when it connects with us, it changes; it is intelligent, and we are changing it for the worse.

The Nasdaq breaks records every day as the fires continue to burn. There is a connection there. Our human need for money is burning our planet. You can’t buy clean air. Still, I have plastic in my house. It is unavoidable. It’s true. And also, I have hope. My family and I try to cultivate a garden, a privilege of where and how we live. When we eat animal products, we look for products that are grown here in Colorado. I am part of the Valley Roots Food Hub CSA, where I receive fresh fruits and vegetables every week of the summer. I support the gardens in the schools of my community. I buy in stores in my town, with local owners. I try to look at the things I buy to see if they have a lot of plastic in them. If there is something bamboo or compostable instead, I always pay a little extra to support something renewable. I always reuse and try to recycle whatever I can. But it’s not enough. Yet, still, I have hope. I try to honor Mother Earth and her future generations. I want to honor our friends in other communities who do not have opportunities to make choices the way I am privileged to do. Let’s make better choices so we can pay it forward to our fellow humans who are unable to do so.

Small steps make a big difference. Smile. Look up from your phone. Buy less from the big corporations and more local products. Do this more because others do not have that privilege. Wear a mask if a virus is in your community. Love one another. Remember, you are privileged. 

Write, with a pencil and paper. Read books. Be human.

Yes, if you have blood on your hands, you can still continue trying to be a better person. Every day, we have the opportunity to start over. Try to improve and keep trying.

Go for a walk, tell our water and our plants that you love them. We got this, humans. Let’s do this. We can leave a clean place for our children.

“Start small, think big.” — Michael Franti

Ingrid Youngblood lives on the edge of the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness near Howard, Colorado. She loves playing fairies in the forest with her daughter, hiking with her dogs and studying native plants of Colorado