A young man who was on vacation in Hawaii went for his morning jog along the beach.
As he was running, he saw from a distance an older Hawaiian woman standing at the edge of the water tossing something into the ocean.
He approached her and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The Hawaiian lady looked up and replied “Throwing starfish into the sea.”
“Why are you throwing starfish into the sea?” asked the somewhat startled man.
To this, the woman replied, “The sun is now up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the seemingly wise man commented, “But Lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach littered with thousands of starfish? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
After hearing this, the Hawaiian Lady bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water she said, “It made a difference to this one.”
You have probably heard a similar story before about making a difference to one star fish at a time. But what do you and a starfish have in common?
I will get to that in a few minutes, but let us first look at the broader picture.
Did you know that global warming continues to be a major concern for the future of our planet?
Yes, you have heard it all before, but more and more people are starting to turn to sustainable living practices and eco-friendly ways to help sustain our planet for future generations.
Eco friendly living involves every aspect of our daily lives including driving to work, mowing our lawns buying are food and helping in ways that sustain nature’s balance and well-being.
In this article, I’d like to focus on the last one – helping in ways that sustain nature’s balance and well-being – including the animals, plants and trees that make up the larger part of our planet.
I am not saying you become a tree hugging hippie or a granola eating activist to save the planet, but to simply have more awareness and compassion in your daily actions.
Being compassionate towards all living things, and being conscious of your actions can really make a difference to all of us and our eco-systems, both now and in the future.
We often take for granted what our earth provides us, to sustain our needs and desires. We often litter without thinking, we use in excess of what we need and we don’t take the time to help our plant and animal friends.
So what I propose is that you take some time to give back to our environment, to our mother earth.
Here are some things you can do to show more compassion and to create a positive impact on our planet.
1. Take a volunteer vacation.
Find something you are passionate about such as birds, whales, panda bears, red wood trees, or rain-forests.
Do a Google search and type in “volunteer vacation: (your interest)” to find some organizations to volunteer for.
I recently volunteered for a weekend at a bird preserve & sanctuary near where I live. I enjoyed feeding and grooming some large birds of prey such as owls, eagles and hawks.
2. Donate to a wildlife foundation or charity.
If you don’t have the time to volunteer, a few of your dollars can help out.
Your donations will help pay for the needs of the animals and the staff working at the facility.
Find an organisation you are passionate about – maybe it’s a “save the dolphin foundation” – and do your research to find out exactly where your money goes.
3. Watch a documentary.
There are many documentaries out there that create awareness, educate us and give us examples and ways of how we can make a difference.
My favourites are The Cove, Shark Water and Flow.
4. Leave nature as it is.
Often we feel a need to pick those flowers, cut down that tree or stuff those shells we found on the beach into our pocket.
This can have a negative impact on the animals and eco-systems because we are destroying their homes and habitat.
How would you like it if someone picked up your house and moved it, leaving you to build a new one?!
5. Don’t litter.
Tossing your garbage where it doesn’t belong disturbs wild life in their natural surroundings.
Think of the bee getting stuck in a soda can when it should be pollinating a flower.
Why not pick up some garbage you see scattered around you and reverse the effects?
6. Plant some trees.
Trees have an enormous role to play in our eco-systems, and more are being cut down than there are being planted.
You can plant a tree in your back yard, somewhere in your neighbourhood or in a wildlife reserve.
You can even volunteer for a day (organise a tree planting day) or get paid to work for a tree planting organization.
So back to my original question.
What do you and a starfish have in common?
Well, starfish often need help from human beings or nature to help sustain their wellness and livelihood. They need someone like us to throw them back into the water, or the waves of the ocean to carry them back to the sea.
Just like the starfish on the beach, we rely on the help of other human-beings and nature for our wellness too.
We are all inter-connected in this vast web of life.
Have you seen the butterfly effect movie? I believe that what you do really has a cause and effect.
Remember to perform your actions without expectations.
Have fun and enjoy that state of feeling good, knowing that you are making a difference in your endeavours to preserve wildlife and the environment.
If you know of any other ways to make a difference or to have a positive impact on our planet, I would love to hear them.
This is a heart-felt guest post from my friend Jai Kai who is the founder and creator of PlanetWell.com – an eco-blog empowering you to live a more simplified, healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle.
Images courtesy of schristia and jaewalk
I alway thought star fishes were amazing because they didn’t were able to regenerate themselves, much like when human beings get bruised. I think we all owe it to mother earth to give back exactly what we took from her, before we perish in the mist of our stupidity.
Thanks for your awareness and recognition of our Mother Earth Jonathan. As a collective human species we can continue to give back.
Thanks Jai for your excellent guest post and for sharing your worldly wisdom.
Let’ s make it happen that more and more learn about the many simple ways they can make our stay on this earth more sustainable.
I love the starfish story. In many ways, I’m a starfish thrower, too. Your suggestion list for showing compassion and making a difference is spot on.
Thanks for sharing.
Alex, I always saw you as a starfish loving type of person.
This story could have easily been written about you:-)
I believe in doing whatever we can to help the environment, but it’s hard given that humans are very short-term minded. We seek short term pleasures and sometimes forget about the long term implications, and global warming is just 1 of the many manifestations of this type of thinking.
Great post Jai!
We can all be doing so much more to help our planet. Every little thing counts – even throwing a starfish back in the water!
This is a truly lovely post. Although meant for our environment, I can’t help drawing an analogy with our fellow human beings and the starfish. I recently talked with my 20-year-old son, how individual actions can have far reaching effects, much like a ripple effect in a pond caused by a small stone. People here mostly say thank you to the bus driver as they disembark at the end of their journey. This was not always the case. As I explained to my son one-day one individual decided to show appreciation to the driver and perhaps the person behind them followed. That one action had the powerful effect of making it a well established habit/practice. Also in terms of helping others, sometimes people have all the attributes they need to have a full and happy life, but occasionally they get “stuck”. Giving them a little support, kindness ,whatever is needed may be a way of throwing them back into the sea of life. A particular gesture, at a particular time, can really make a difference!
The title intrigues me..because as I walk down the dock to the boat we live on we scan the water line for starfish..I love them..
Like Alex, I am a starfish thrower..and it warms my heart to be in the midst of many starfish throwers..
Mother Nature folds me right in always..unconditionally..it is my gratitude, my Love for her and all she shares that allows me to care as passionately as i do about her..I do my best to mindfully tend my garden and my area..share the blossoms with all..and if we all do so..what a ‘wonderful world” it will be:) Much to celebrate in what you shared–thank you!
What an incredibly wonderful story of someone who understands and appreciates the sanctity of all life. That story made my day. I too believe that understanding our interconnected can help us see how harming only harms you, whereas helping helps you. This could transform our planet. Thank you for the clear and simple tips and all you do to spread the word.
This is beautiful – but I would expand on the lesson (and probably make myself terribly unpopular).
Humans are often drawn to help when they feel compassion for nature’s victims. As a vegan and animal lover, it is hard for me to watch movies where the lions catch their lunch of antelope or whatever and tear it to bits. Yet the lion must kill and eat or die.
When you throw a starfish back into the water, you’ve also removed a meal from a seagull or other coastal occupant that depends on the ocean’s bounty to survive. Are their lives more or less valuable than the starfish, and what gives a random beachwalker the right to decide?
Humans are actually very bad at making these value judgements, because we only have our human perspective to judge with. This human perspective leads most to be more sympathetic to cat and dog companion animals than farmed cows, pigs, or chickens. It also leads many to believe that humans are more important and valuable than animals. Basically, it’s enormously flawed. Our interference certainly can have great impacts, and we need to think and not just react. Circle of life, nature red in tooth and claw, etc, etc.
That said, we should ALWAYS do what we can to reverse the human crimes against nature – there are plenty to choose from.
Jess, thanks for sharing your take on things. And you are not going to be unpopular at all!
As a fellow vegetarian, I can relate to where you are coming from – and I do believe that if more people could really see how the meat they eat is prepared, they would turn vegetarian too!
In the world of nature where there is such a fine balance, of course by “saving” one starfish we may have deprived some other creature higher up in the chain from its food. But at the same time, when there are so many starfish suffering and dying, I would much prefer to help a few of them if I can. As happens in nature, their predators will have to feast less or go elsewhere for that day.
Perhaps the answer is for more people to undo the damage we are causing to the environment – or actually do more to help other people directly.
Helping others just for the sheer desire to help them – now there’s a novel idea!
Substute people for starfish in the above story – and make a difference to every person that you can help.
Thanks Jess for sharing your side of things. Now did I tell you anything about you not being unpopular?!
Hi Arvind – thanks for the vote of confidence!
LIke I said, it’s hard for us not to take sides (like with the starfish instead of the predator) but that’s my point. The message of the article is that small actions make a difference, so to say “there are so many starfish” that it won’t matter much to the predators if one isn’t there is contradicting the message. One starfish might mean life or death to a baby seagull today. You might pick a starfish that was already almost dead. We _don’t_ know.
It’s a totally different story with people helping people, or people helping animals against what people have done.
And I think we need to look beyond the desire to help to the actual impact of our help – is the difference you are making appropriate? Is the help we are giving only making ourselves feel better and not actually helping in the big picture?
Jess, I agree with you about questioning if we are really making a difference and why in hte first place.
Is it to make us feel better or are we genuinely interested in helping?
I think even considering these issues is more than half the battle!
Also, I’m pleased and honoured that you’ve joined my blog followers – I’ve had you on my blogroll and love your posts….
Jess, the honour is all mine:)
Keep up the inspirational work you do.