Profile: Mother, Environmentalist, Optimist

Making big change is easy and fun, at least according to The Green Life subscriber Rosina Perthal, who we recently interviewed for this article. As a mother with a full time job, and as an avid environmentalist, she has a different perspective on how we can be making a difference in the environment.

Rosina felt the first stirrings of environmentalism as a child. Her family had a vacation home in Vermont, and she spent much of her childhood swimming in streams and ponds, and hiking the Green Mountains. Rosina went on to earn two degrees in forestry—after which she settled down in Maryland, where she’s lived now for 25 years.

Rosina and her volunteers

Rosina likes to get her hands dirty. She’s deeply involved in her community, both through her local church, and through various watershed protection organizations. Though her main interests lie in counteracting climate change by reducing our carbon emissions, she finds the most satisfaction in working with watershed cleanup. Her favorite thing is working with children in habitat restoration projects, because, in her words, children are like “little sponges.” Here’s one of her favorite stories from our interview:

“Do you remember the sniper? My kids were in elementary school at the time. It was terrifying, people were afraid to go anywhere. Around here, there’s an organization that gathers native tree seeds: acorns, black walnuts, that kind of thing. And you collect them and they grow trees from them, and I said this is the perfect thing to do, because we’ll be out in the woods, we’ll be safe. I got all of these kids together and we went and collected acorns in the woods. We got interviewed by the local newspaper and we were on the front page. Kids still talk about doing that. And I did it because I wanted to collect seeds, but also I really wanted to get my kids outside in this time that was so stressful. I just wanted everybody to feel safe.”

One of the most infectious things about Rosina is her positivity. When asked about how she participates in environmental activities in her community, she emphasized how she never uses criticism or negativity as a motivator. She says:

“I don’t think we get anywhere by beating people up and being negative, it’s not productive. The way we move forward in environmentalism is setting the example and making things happen and people seeing a positive result from your activities. People don’t want to sit around and talk about how screwed up the environment is–I mean people do it all the time–but that’s no fun!”

Rosina thinks that small actions can make a big impact. She admitted that she’s always going through the garbage to make sure every last thing is recycled or composted. She never buys anything new, but shops for her entire wardrobe at second-hand stores. We had been talking only a few minutes when she said:

“I think it is very powerful to work in your own community because you do have a big impact, if you can clean up your little stream and everybody else cleans up their little stream, then you can get a long way.”

This quote particularly spoke to me because here at The Green Life, that’s what we’re all about! I asked Rosina how she stays motivated to do good, and this is how she responded:

“Never give up. Never be discouraged. It’s all worth it. Every little thing you do is positive. Every single thing that each one of us does, we’re influencing other people. Even if it’s just picking up litter or recycling those darn bottles, everything’s positive. Keep at it. Never give up.”

Do you have a similar tale? What keeps you positive?

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