Key West Tropical Forest and Garden

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This year I have been thinking more about sustainability and ecology. The last time I gave the topic serious thought was in high school- I took a class in ecology and was a member of the Outing club (still exists! I seriously under estimated how useful the education I received in my public High School). The club focused on adventure trips that had an environmental aspect. In 11th grade I was able to visit the Santa Elena cloud forest in Costa Rica and the club volunteered in the park and slept outside in the jungle. My mother chaperoned another trip – camping and canoeing on the Passaic river in New Jersey. There was a dead cat.

At the time of my wedding, one night I lay awake feeling regret that I had not travelled to Ecuador to study local rainforest plant species fifteen years prior through a college internship. Like high school, college for me was this all you can learn opportunity buffet. Of course, I had the feeling that the rest of my life would be like that- people handing me stipends to go do whatever.

It hasn’t been quite like that. Although it isn’t entirely not like that either. The people who pay me expect me to show up on the same island five days a week, 49 weeks a year. But that leaves plenty of time for other pursuits. As usual, I am trying many of them at once.

This week we are celebrating our recent marriage with a week on Key West. It is so beautiful here that the Things that suck about our Culture blare like a 24hr bullhorn in your ear.

Cars and paved driving culture
Plastic
Conspicuous consumption

Equally glaring are flying and sugar paste Pina Coladas, but I am not willing to give those up yet, so I would prefer to focus on the others.

I can gradually wean myself from driving and shopping. But what we need are policy and government changes that help people feel about driving and shopping the way they now do about smoking. How?

We visited the lovely tiny botanical garden here, wedged in between the golf course and the sewage treatment plant. It was a refreshing escape. But also a reminder of how far we culturally have to go to get right with our environment.

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Author: Emily

Writer/ Librarian

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