We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

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We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

This sentiment* underlies everything we do and stand for as a business. If you've shopped at our Easton store, you've seen it framed at our check-out area. And if you've heard us give a pitch, it's in our concluding statements. It is an elegant, poetic way of stating some profound truths:

  • We are part of something bigger than ourselves.
  • We are just temporary visitors to this world, yet the impacts of what we do reverberate far beyond us.
  • It is our responsibility to make the world better for the generations that come after us.

This photo was taken at Rockland Town Forest in Rockland, Massachusetts, a lovely patch of nature with unexpected public art. Most of the art was created and placed by children, which reminds us of the full meaning of this quote. At the risk of sounding trite, children are our future. What we do to our planet will affect them, and generations beyond them, far more than ourselves. And what we teach them now will shape the norms of society.

So for us, this quote has two related meanings and calls to action:

  1. We must treat the earth with care and, given its current degraded state, work to restore it to a better place than how we found it.
  2. We must do everything with the best interests of our children and future generations in mind. In addition to restoring the earth, we must teach our children about the importance of doing so, and about their place as human beings within our environment.

At Merry Go Rounds, we promote sustainability in two ways: directly reducing environmental impact by extending the life cycle of existing goods, and encouraging sustainable consumption behaviors by teaching children and adults about the positive impact of shopping secondhand. In these ways, we're doing our part to steward the earth in a way that would make both our ancestors and children proud.

 

*The quote has been attributed to a number of different speakers, including Wendell Berry, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Chief Seattle, Moses Henry Cass, Dennis J. Hall, Helen Caldicott, Lester Brown, David R. Brower, and Taghi Farvar. It has also been referred to as a Native American proverb and an Amish saying. It seems to be a sentiment that has existed for a long time and has been expressed in a number of different ways by different speakers over the years.

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