So Tell Me… Am I Eco-Literate?

We throw around the term eco-literacy, but often its full meaning is unknown to us. I believe that eco-literacy can be broadly defined as someone who conscious of the world around them and their life’s actions compliment this awareness of the natural world. I believe that this is a process and that we are not able to one day say that we are fully eco-literate, but instead living in an eco-literate manner. Eco-literacy is a journey and taking on this journey and staying true to it makes you eco-literate. Eco-literacy is more than just thinking and acting in a sustainable way, but it also includes sharing your knowledge and learning from others. In class we listened to each of our eco-literate poems and letters and discussed them with each other. This experience helped me further understand what eco-literacy means and made me ask myself, “Am I eco-literate?” Lets explore.

From my experiences and education, I believe that an eco-literate person, is someone who thinks about the world around them and is aware of the impact that they have on the world. This makes me think about Jon‘s letter to his eco-literate friend. In this letter he mentions the idea of community living and in further discussion, demonstrated how community living involves volunteering your time to do work that helps grow food and add to the community, which therefore benefits your living. An example of this would be volunteering your time to garden and produce food and then the food would be available for  you to eat. Until I listened to Jon read his letter I had forgotten about food sustainability as an action of an eco-literate person. I focused my thoughts of an eco-literate person as someone who does good for the earth, not someone who does good for the earth and sustains their own life. I am glad to have listened to Jon read his letter as it helped me understand more deeply, what an eco-literate person is.

Sustainable food development is not the only think that I learned from listening to my classmates talk about their understanding of eco-literacy. I also forgot about the importance of passing along knowledge, creating awareness and empowering others. These are basic concepts when you think about someone who understands and lives with the earth instead of of just on the earth. Listening to Kiersten say, “Pass on the experiences that you have been lucky enough to have” in her letter to her future self, reminded me that if we are eco-literate beings, we must pass on what we know to next generations, so they can work towards becoming eco-literate as well. Spreading knowledge whether it be textbook knowledge or experiential knowledge, when it comes to being eco-literate we must share what we know with others. Kiersten’s letter also reminded me that even if we do not consider ourselves eco-literate, we must pass on what we know on how to be eco-literate so that future generations will be able to work towards that goal as well. In regards to my teaching practice, I know the being eco-literate in important which is why I want to ensure that I pass my knowledge on to my future students so they may choose to live in an eco-literate way.

I want to also mention a few other quotes from other letters and poems that I felt added to my understanding of eco-literacy. Katy-Rose mentioned that when it comes to trying to save the world we live in, “Maybe I can’t change everything, I can at least say that I tried.” This statement is valuable to my understanding as I think that we may not be able to change the world in our life time; however, the world will never change unless we try. Inspiring others to work along side you and continue the work when you are gone is another great quality of someone who is eco-literate. Mikayla’s and Skyler’s letters inspired me to understand that in the future if change has not happened immediately, it is possible and there is still hope. I enjoyed Skyler’s quote, “Is the grass still green? Is the sky still Blue?” which reminds us to reflect on the potential of nature and the beauty. Mikayla’s letter to herself reminded me that as someone who is eco-literate, you must, “open [others] eyes not only to the beauty but also to the destruction.” We as humans must be aware of our actions and how they affect the beauty  of the world and cause destruction. But it does not have to be this way as mentioned in Pat O’Riley and Pete Cole’s story, Coyote & Raven.  When humans work towards living in an eco-literate manner, they work towards reverting to their “original instructions” (p. 132) which guide us what to do in our everyday lives. I believe that education can help develop students “original instructions” to be those of loving, and fostering the health and well being of the environment. But how can I teach this?

So once more I return to this question, “Am I Eco-literate?” Well, I heavily rely on my car for transportation, the grocery store for my food and the faucet for my water. I do not think about where the food comes from or how it is obtained. I am not someone who composts or fixes clothes when they have holes in them. At this moment, I do recycle bottles, can, paper and plastics. I am someone who picks up garbage when I see it on the ground. I do care about the environment and want to help it change, but I do not see myself as an eco-literate person. Referring back to Jon’s letter about community living, I divulge through guilt as I know that I have never planted a garden or considered that I could grow my own food. I am so dependent on prepared and processed foods that I forget how unhealthy they are for me as well as the packaging they leave behinds as trash. I do not consider myself an eco-literate person; however, I do feel that I have potential. I believe that I can change and become someone who is more conscious about the world around me, someone who doesn’t rely on others to feed me and ensures that I reduce the impact that I have on the earth. I have potential to share what I learn with my future students, in hope that they too will want to become eco-literate and preserve the earth we live on.

This entry captures a basic way that others have influenced me to change and grow in my understanding of eco-literacy. I would love to hear and learn from you, so feel free to leave me a comment below and tell me in what ways you view eco-literacy. Also take a moment to ask yourself, are you eco-literate?

Until next time!


O’Riley, P., & Cole, P (2009). Coyote and Raven talk about the land/scapes. In M. McKenzie, H. Bai, P. Hart & B. Jickling (Eds). Fields of green: Re-storying education. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. 125-134.



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