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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UWindsor chapter.

What is gratitude? Is it the ability to show thanks? Showing appreciation? Or the willingness to show kindness in return?

Writing this as the snow falls, and exactly ten days until the spring equinox, after a nearly snowless winter, I am reminded of all we have taken from the Earth. Mining for the metals that are in the technology I used to write this, drilling for the gas in my car I’ll  drive to work in later, and the chemicals in the water from the pesticides used to feed us. Clear-cut forests to build cities which also provided the wood for the framing of the house that shelters me from the cold. We aren’t the ones who started it, but we are the ones who continue it. 

Every day, every purchase, and every decision, we are taking more from the Earth with no thanks, and with no reciprocation. We continue to take more than we need, as I type on my computer while listening to music on my phone, and glancing over to my iPad to read notifications from my classes. 

To me, gratitude comes in steps. The first step in thanking the Earth is acknowledging what I have taken; accepting my waste and how I have taken more than I need. 

The second step is vocalizing my thanks. I thank the Earth for the life it has given me; for nourishment, shelter, transportation, and for material goods. I thank the Earth for the spiritual nourishment it has given me, snow to play in as a child, trees to walk through, water to calm my soul, and for allowing me to feel a connection to the land I am on. 

The final step lies in returning the kindness Earth has shown us. Windsor lies on the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, this includes the Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi. These Nations have countless teachings and endless knowledge on how to show gratitude to the Earth. 

To show my gratitude I can practice mindful consumption and never take more than I need. Paying attention to the source of the products I purchase and being mindful of how much I take with respect to how much I give. 

Learning how to respectfully take from the Earth is the way towards sustainability. Practice expressing gratitude, not to make yourself feel good, but because it is what the Earth deserves for providing for us for so long.

Giulia Vilardi is Co-Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at UWindsor. She oversees all HC UWindsor teams and content. She is also responsible for writing and editing articles, as well as posting to HC UWindsor Instagram and TikTok. Giulia primarily writes lifestyle articles relating to campus life, being a woman and STEM, and cool local spots. Beyond Her Campus, Giulia is a Senior in the Behaviour, Cognition, and Neuroscience program at UWindsor. She spends most of her time working as Assistant Director of Communications for a research lab on campus. She is Co-President of SMArt (a UWindsor club for scientists who love art) where she helps provide artistic services to the science community at UWindsor. Giulia is an avid reader and enjoys creating art of all kinds in her free time. She can't get through the day without AT LEAST 3 cups of coffee. She loves listening to music and is always looking for new music recs!