Editor's note: This commentary by Brigham Young University-Hawaii President John Tanner is part of an ongoing Deseret News opinion series exploring ideas and issues at the intersection of Faith and Thought.
This month on St. Patrick’s Day I decided to act a little greener. So I went “plogging” — a new craze from Sweden that combines exercise with environmentalism. Ploggers pick up trash while jogging. The word is a mash-up of “jogging” and the Swedish word for “pick up.”
I read about “plogging” in the Washington Post a few weeks ago. The article said it was a new fad, but plogging is not new here in Laie, Hawaii. John and Rhonda Bell have been ploggers for years, toting plastic sacks as they walk in the morning to pick up litter along the way. They set a great example. Think how much cleaner the streets and beaches would be if we all plogged when we were out enjoying our runs.
A couple years ago I wrote an essay encouraging everyone to stop, stoop, and pick up litter when they saw it — to plog — and not to litter in the first place. Latter-day Saints should be a people who practice “malama aina” — care of the earth. This is not just a traditional Hawaiian value. We believe that God invited Adam and Eve to take good care of their garden home. To my knowledge, this divine injunction has never been rescinded. So we have a sacred duty to care for the earth, which heaven seems to have forgotten to curse here in Hawaii.
When President David O. McKay dedicated the BYU-Hawaii campus where we serve, he praised the Saints in Laie for cleaning up. Then he challenged them to “Keep your yards beautiful. Keep your streets clean and make it (Laie) an attractive village, the best in the Hawaiian Islands.” I reiterate the prophet’s founding charge.3 comments on this story
I was so pleased on Saturday a couple weeks ago to see hundreds of BYU-Hawaii students going out to participate in projects to clean up local North Shore sites, such as the James Campbell National Wild Refuge and Waimea Valley. Likewise I have joined many times with members and students to clean up local beaches. This work fulfills our Father’s commandment to take good care of our earthly home, repeated by President McKay at our founding and embedded in an indigenous ecological ethic. It makes our community a little more like Zion.
So let us not only wear green but act green in keeping our communities clean and beautiful. Pick up trash on the streets and beaches, and don’t litter. Make every place you live a bit more beautiful than it was when you arrived. Be a plogger not just on St. Paddy’s Day, but every day.