Human survival depends on the planet’s ecosystems and the essential products and services they supply us. For too long we have taken, with barely any permission or thought, from these delicate, interconnected systems. Modern society has treated the living world as an unlimited resource which we have relentlessly exploited and extracted from. This has led us to a crisis where one million plants and animals are at risk of vanishing forever by the end of this century. Humans are seen as separate from the rest of nature and other species, but we are not. If they go extinct, so do we.
The Honourable Harvest
The ‘Honourable Harvest’ is a piece of Indigenous Knowledge widely shared by author Robin Wall Kimmerer. It builds upon the understanding of the natural world as kin or having personhood instead of as a resource. It is a set of guidelines that can help us reconnect with the planet. The guidelines are as follows:
- Ask permission of the ones whose lives you seek. Abide by the answer.
- Take only that which is given to you.
- Never take the first. Never take the last.
- Take only what you need and leave some for others.
- Harvest in a way that minimises harm and use everything that you take.
- Share it, as the Earth has shared with you.
- Be grateful and reciprocate the gift.
- Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the Earth will last forever.
An honourable Christmas?
Christmas is a time characterised by reciprocity, but it only tends to extend to our family and loved ones. We don’t stop to think about our overconsumption of the planet’s gifts and that we give nothing in return. Our inability to harvest honourably, especially at Christmas, has devastating environmental impacts.
So, this Christmas, let’s all be more mindful and practise the guidelines set out by the Honourable Harvest. Let’s consume less, ask before we consume and give back by regenerating the natural systems we depend on. Let’s make this a time to connect not only with one another but with the living world as well.