Nature is Rich--in Resources--Just Like I Want to Be

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By Linda Katz

 I often say 'Everything I need to know about the economy and life I learned from Mother Nature'.   As fall sends nature's flash into fallow (or dormancy), it's the perfect time to learn from her (save, spend, grow) sustainability plan.   After all, she's been around a long time - so what does she know that we don't?  And more importantly what can we learn so we spring open along with the crocuses come April? Here's my simplistic, and metaphoric thoughts on 'environmental economics'.   Kick 'em around (along with) leaves or while bobbing for apples.

Fall may feel like an end rather than a start - look out the window and nature looks like it is dying.  Ha!  Mother Nature is transitioning from her extroverted spring/summer flash to a well-deserved introverted fall/winter recovery time.  Her withdrawal of energy allows time to reflect, rejuvenate, and save for spring's big bloom roll-out.

As days grow shorter, we may feel our mood withdraw and darken.  Especially as color leaves our external environment.   Green, in particular colors our thoughts - and the U.S. dollar or greenback, that universal currency.  Simply:

Lush, rich, life = Green

Green = Money

 Green = Nature

 Nature = Resources

 Resources = Money

 Money = Nature

 Nature = Resources = Life

Yet, when it comes to linking the economy with the environment, it seems we are colorblind as we live in the red.  I think we need to ask: which resources are needed for life?

For a brief period of time, I thought it was a 'red handbag'.  As you've read,  it was a temporary want.  Sure, I love 'stuff' that makes my apartment home.  But honestly, I don't need it - I just want it.   The only resources any of us really need for life are oxygen, water, and food.  Resources only nature can provide (contrary to ingredient lists on many packaged foods.)

I say our challenge is working with Mother Nature for our needs while satisfying our human nature with our wants.

It's asking:  What Would Mother Nature Do (WWMND) for economic success?  I say begin with her 5 steps.

1.  Balance:    Mother Nature has obviously spent plenty of time on a playground seesaw.  She understands the need to maintain balance even while going up and down.   She uses what she has - while saving a little for the future.    Mother Nature foregoes debt, once her bottom line turns from green to red, she catapults into endangerment/extinction.

Lesson:   We may become morally, emotionally, financially bankrupt overusing resources, causing our internal peace (balance) to become extinct.  Live under your means to keep your personal seesaw going.   Debt drives your energy, emotions, finances and goodwill into the red.  And remember: There is no plastic - no credit cards - found in nature.

2.  Save:   Mother Nature saves everything including those piles of leaves in your yard.   This is not hoarding.  She reduces those dead leaves/blooms by recycling (decomposers de-clutter causing decaying leaves to smell like a frat house bathroom on a Sunday morning) and reusing (notice those leaves are gone by spring - broken up and back into the soil like using old clothes to make a quilt).  All this saving leads to new blooms - and a reminder that the past is no predictor of the past.

Lesson:  use what you have to grow your future - like with an IRA.    And don't bother raking those leaves in your yard!

3.  Spew seeds:  Seeds are nature's C.D.'s (certificates of deposit), little packets of possibility to ensure future growth.   They even sound similar!   Seeds, like C.D.'s only open at the right time, in the right place, and the right conditions - and they are supported by all those unused seeds and leaves that 'die'.  There are even special seeds that open during a forest fire to ensure that tree species survival.  Kinda like emergency C.D.'s/funds.  

Lesson:  save for emergencies as well as the future - though the stock market provides better returns than C.D.'s.

4.  Diversification: The healthiest forest and gardens are filled with diverse trees that play host to lots of different bugs, and are called home by lots of birds.   Having only one species like Dutch Elm (on decorative paths) found one 'sick' tree caused them all to die.

Lesson:  Diversification of your holdings maintains balance and growth so even if your 'Dutch Elm'-like stock tanks/dies, other stock species survive.

5.  Be sustainable:  Mother Nature thrives because everything she has is used and supports everything else, even though it may seem to be in conflict.

Lesson:  Invest in things that feed your future.  Material things that overwhelm you and end up in landfills throw you off-balance and leave nothing to decompose - unlike the leaves left in your yard that will decompose to nurture spewed seeds.  Experiential investments always leave you with seeds or kernels of thought and growth.

Keep following Mother Nature's 5 lessons through all the seasons:

  • This holiday season, stay green and out of the red by matching  spending with your values ( and keep you growing.
  • Make every day your special Valentine's Day by making black the new red.  Love yourself by loving your finances and living under your means to live fully in the future

Stay in touch:  check out my other posts on communication and economic sustainability at

What steps will you take to support your spring blooms?