Where do you draw the line between yourself and nature?

Well, if you didn’t understand question I will explain you, there are times in your life when you know what you are doing is directly harming nature but you don’t do anything, or just covering your face and running, In my case there lots of times I find it hard to stop the people around me to stop harming nature, Like don’t kill mosquito by mortein(a poisnous substance that kills bugs)
or don’t waste water while bathing, don’t put lights on, but no one listen, and I am kind of person that uses water too adequately, like I wash my clother by my hands and use that dirty water in cleaning toilet, or when I change aquarium water I put that water in plants, but sometimes I try to go out of limits, like there was one time I learned that soaps were waste, they not only make water dirty but also damages our skin so I started bathing just by rubbing my skin with my hands, in this case I got clean, but problem was later become big as I can’t put up practice upto some extent, like I started shouting when Mom bring new plastic bag, and all. Then my mother scolded things are done according to situation, but now I am confused where to draw a line what things can I mind against nature and what things I should not mind against nature, because problem is getting worse, because I am becoming same guy that once I hated like using bike at small distances so to bring things, using phones and laptops too much and that’s all, So I wanted to ask you where do you draw a line between a bad thing agains nature and not bad thing against nature


I don’t think it’s a question that any person (including myself) can contemplate with complete rationality. If we define “natural” and “nature” as everything except humans and what humans do, then every action that we take is against nature. On the other hand, humans are the product of the exact same evolutionary mechanisms that produced every other species on the planet. Thus we are as much a part of nature as anything. And oil is natural. Thus plastic is natural–if you consider humans and their actions as the product of natural processes. And thus our habit of using and discarding plastic in nature is natural. Other species do things that harm other species as well (Plasmodium kills a million humans every year, facilitated by certain mosquitoes). Washing our bodies and staying clean harms wildlife such as human lice and other parasites and microorganisms that have depended on the human lineage for millions of years. Think about the poor crab (pubic) lice! They’re on the verge of extinction because of modern human’s obsession with “cleanliness” and grooming. LOL, I’m not sure where to go from here! It’s an impossible-to-answer question which everyone will have an answer to! And all those answers will be at least somewhat irrational. It can be difficult to know for sure how each of our actions and choices impact other species (is paper really better than plastic?). We can read books that guide us to reduce our impact–and hope the authors have done the accounting correctly–and follow their advice to reduce our impact (but none of them talk about restoring habit for pubic crab lice!). And we can spend every waking moment on this endeavor alone (reducing our impact)…but each person will differ wildly in how inconvenienced they are willing to be.


I tried to write something meaningful, but @pfau_tarleton did it for me. Personally I do not draw any “line”. Coin always has two sides. Your mention of soap reminded me of that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzx5zBNz_9A


I often struggle with this question, too. While I’m far from perfect; I use plastic/fossil fuels/etc. just like anybody else (maybe aside from the members of a few “uncontacted” tribes) no matter how much I try to limit my usage, I think it’s dangerous to equate the whole of plastic/modern technology usage as a natural evolutionary process toward an ecologically adequate future. Since we know a lot of practices are unsustainable, I see a lot of products of industrialization as byproducts of natural selection. Like the cottontails that don’t quite run fast enough to escape a hawk, our dependence on exploitative, doomed systems seems to put us in the larger, more cataclysmic talons of the same process; only we willingly charge towards such a fate. Maybe I’ve read too much Edward Abbey as of late, but I firmly believe humans are part of nature meant to interact as fellow species with the animals, plants, fungi, and “friends” we’re surrounded by, and if we want to stay that way, we have to do our part. Stewardship is an obligation on a cosmic scale, not a choice.


Sorry for the tangent, but: Wouldn’t that just spread bacteria from other parts of your body to your hands?
Granted, most of it is probably innocuous parts of your microbiome, but it could include other microorganisms as well.

It is incredibly complicated and the consequences of ones actions can be different depending on where you are. Fresh water is a concern in general on a global scale, but where I am, household water comes from the Great Lakes. As long as Niagara Falls still thunders, my concerns about personal water usage here are confined mostly to the energy used in processing it. My efforts to conserve water will not have the same meaning as in places prone to drought. As for soap, that’s mostly for my hands. Elsewhere, I find it a waste, it dries my skin, gives me rashes, and the artificial fragrances that usually accompany it disgust me more than any odor a healthy living body normally emits. A nice soak and a washcloth pulls the dirt with the dead skin and at the risk of exposing myself as scandalously filthy by absurdly and neurotically vain modern norms, it’s less than daily. Maybe that is some compensation for me using heated water, but that’s relativism and merely doing better than average is not much with where we’re at right now.

I firmly believe in one trying to do what one thinks to be right, regardless of who can see, but at the same time, with the scale of the environmental issues, I don’t know if there’s much anyone can do by themselves that can have a very significant impact unless it influences others. You sound like you are taking the issues at hand as seriously as we all should be. Thank you! Around me, the ignorance about and disregard for the environment and native wildlife, breaks my heart every day, but personally, I would advise against drawing lines and instead recommend constantly striving for improvement and greater understanding.


Tread lightly. Be thoughtful. Avoid greenwashing.

My current challenge is less dairy and more vegan. I stopped eating almonds (Californian drought) and eat more pumpkin and sunflower seeds instead (better water use than nut trees)


There actually is no line. Humans are a product of the same evolutionary processes that produced all other organisms. We’re just unique in having an over-developed monkey brain that allows us to change our environment in ways that no other animal is able to do. That same brain also allows us to make decisions that can reduce or even reverse our impact on the environment, although most of us don’t devote much thought to doing that.

Added: just noticed that @pfau_tarleton wrote something similar, but better.


An important and difficult question to answer. My perspective is that while we should definitely make effort to reduce personal impact, the most productive use of our energies is to do battle with the architects of ecological destruction, and simultaneously develop more harmless ways of meeting our needs. In other words, I believe that destruction of the environment is a political failure more than it is a test of personal discipline.


Probably only tangentially related to the real issue here, but I love this quote by the artist Andy Goldsworthy (it’s in his documentary “Rivers and Tides”):

“We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.”


Welcome to the Forum! In regards to your comment, have you got any actions I/We could take? I agree with you, but do not know how to take that action.
@abhijatshakya It’s a difficult question. Even by responding to you I am ‘responsible’ for consuming and using potentially harmful processes and products. I do believe that humans are part of Nature, so we will always modify it in some way. The trick is to minimise the damage we do. Often that is difficult to do. I would prefer to not eat meat, but my spouse is a hard core carnivore. I would prefer not to use fossil fuels or their products, but I cannot. I suppose we can only keep these issues in mind, and do what we are able to. But frankly, contemplating the complexity of even basic food in stores wears me out.


I was talking about bathing with water just not by soap.


So how much I respond if someone trying to do bad on there own will?, like when I was small I was so concerned about nature that I fought with children who threaten animals(like kicking dogs with legs) but now recently I saw a dog who was got his leg broken by tractor, his abdomen part was mostly destroyed, and there were some village kids who were hurting him like grabbing his throat and all, and you know what I did?, I said nothing to them and just put my face on other side. I don’t know what happened to me?. I don’t know when to react to someone who is harming nature when should I not?, So there are times when I react very aggressively( shouting at my brother when he handled butterfly not properly) but now if he handle butterfly with his hand I say nothing to him, so what should I do? where should I ignore people harming nature and where should I not?

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Well, now you describe some messy situations that shouldn’t happen at all, nobody should directly harm animals (or plants if that doesn’t serve a real purpose), in other instances advise is better than shouting, most water is used to water crops, not to take baths, plastic won’t stop to be a problem unless something different will be used, and one person can’t do nothing and even a thousand people can’t do any change to that, but they can change their direct interactions, though dogs are invasive and shouldn’t be free anyway, but if there’re some serial killers in the making, it won’t serve any good to anyone.


Aah, Thanks for advice I will feel a little light. But I think I shouldn’t think about things that I can’t change but think about things that I can change. I will try my best thanks all of you who participated in this conversation, cause I reached upto conclusions by reading different perspectives.

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I think it’s a good thing to act consistently with your beliefs and values, but also to recognise that we have been born into a culture and society that we did not choose. The weight of acting in right relationship with other species cannot fall on the shoulders of individuals alone - it must be collective. I wish that we humans had done a better job of designing cities that were not sacrificed to private cars, that we placed more importance on preserving wild nature than on endless economic growth, and that we didn’t subsidise harmful activities like fossil fuel extraction and livestock agriculture, but here we are - I live in this world and sometimes I get in a car or buy something that I don’t really need.

I’d encourage you to remember that you are not responsible for the failings of others, and that while it’s great to step in when you see abuse happening, you can’t fix everything that is wrong around you. Find ways to fix what you can, without getting discouraged by what you can’t change.

It’s also worth remembering that while individual actions can be important, in isolation they make very little difference. We are each just one of almost 8 billion (although if you are rich, live in a huge house and fly a lot, your individual impact is much greater than average). For your actions to make more difference, find ways of turning them into collective action with others to start ripples of change, rather than just focusing on yourself in isolation.

I recommend a podcast that talks about this: “Is your Carbon Footprint BS?” on How to Save a Planet. A good, nuanced discussion on some of these points.


Thanks my friend you blowed my mind now I am feeling a balloon oh helium lol. I am so light that I’m flying :)


If you say so. I’m always leery of anything that begins by saying that everything we do is natural. It too often leads to justifying pollution.

A kindred spirit! :heart_eyes:

I seem to recall looking up what sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are, and did not understand it well enough to be confident slathering them on my scalp or skin. I’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s ever since.

One of the things I do is refuse to participate in Black Friday – or Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, because they are all in the same theme, i.e., consumerism. I consider Black Friday to be a Babylonian holiday, in the eschatological sense (Revelation 18:9-15). I also do not partake of Christmas gift-giving. Periodically, I take a hard, honest look at my spending habits to make sure I am not going down that Babylonian road of consumerism.

I have noticed that if I can afford something, it is always possible to rationalize buying it. So, I consciously refrain from doing that.

It bothers me when an environmental charity offers gifts as an incentive for donations – sometimes as elaborate as plush stuffed animals. It bothers me even more when they send me calendars or address labels that I didn’t ask for. It’s just more clutter that will eventually be thrown away.


I think the most interesting piece of context here, especially if considering environmental impact, is one of scale.

If the human population was not sufficiently large to be over-consuming and over-polluting the world, what would your position be? If there were 1 Million people on earth, would you worry about water conservation? Squishing a mosquito? Eating a big meal?
If the population doubled, then what?

I think we make choices based on our own context and views, but they must be relative to remain rational. To conserve water if you were the only person on the planet would be nonsensical, given the lifetime of a person vs the planet. But to not conserve in an apocalyptic hellscape would be just as nonsensical.

So for me, I balance. I be considerate and conserve where I can. I squash mosquitoes because they give me days of welts and itchiness and I know there are millions of them all around. I treat life with respect, but not idealistic complete sacrosanct, otherwise I must consider all the bacteria living all over me and would be paralysed when confronting a natural event of species conflict (e.g. do I save the fly in the spider web? How do I know the spider won’t now starve if I do?).

It’s not an easy question, we all have different beliefs. I only say do what you believe is right for yourself :)

Right, I get that. I wasn’t suggesting you don’t bathe at all.

I was asking if bathing without soap just helps move your biofauna and microbes from whichever body part you rub to your hands and then to the next place you rub.

Eg. If you rub your scslp and behind your ears with just water, and then rub your chest, haven’t you jyst transferred whatever was behind your ears to your hands and chest? Whether that be an innocuous part of your skin biome or something else?