Thoreau – America’s First Environmentalist

The Green Thoreau – America’s First Environmentalist on Technology, Posessions, Livelihood, and More Over 100 years ago, Henry Thoreau said, “The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World. Every tree sends it’s fibers forth in search of the Wild. The cities import it at any price. Men plow and sail for it. From the forest and the wilderness come the tonics and the barks which brace mankind.”

I was reminded of this recently as I took a cross country drive from New York to Nevada. Driving through 12 states and passing hills, forests, mesas, and deserts, I had hours to think about nature and what Thoreau was trying to tell us in his writings. My brand new copy of The Green Thoreau is now well thumbed and dog-eared as it traveled with me on the journey. My husband and I took turns reading passages to each other and we were constantly amazed at how relevent Thoreau’s words continue to be.

In this age of materialism, global shortages and increased concern over sustainability, Thoreau’s insights are still timely: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” And while he really may be called “America’s First Environmentalist” he had other subjects to comment on as well. Regarding technology, Thoreau wrote: “Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end….” Continue reading his thoughts on livelihood (and debt!), diet and food and more, and you will swear the man was prescient.

Kudos to Carol Spenard La Russo for a marvelous editing job. The entries are well chosen and the topical groupings helpful. Whether you are an old fan of Henry Thoreau, or a new reader unfamiliar with his work, The Green Thoreau is guaranteed to please and inspire.

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by Carol Spenard LaRusso, editor