With the oil spill in Galveston Bay, I contemplate the scenery we watch on a sunny spring evening, focused on the swaying reeds of the wetlands, the call of the many shorebirds, the silent flapping wings of an egret landing.

But what our eye comprehends is merely the tip of a mountain that rests on millions of organisms that build the great food chain we survive on. The egrets are themselves at the very end, eating fish nourished in the same water that now is contaminated.

The clean-up crews are doing a great job, but we will not fully understand the damage caused to the ecosystem for a long time. By the time it touches things we can discern with the human eye, it has already ruined many levels of biodiversity.

This is not meant to spread a message of doom, but to encourage starting to help protect the environment that gives us so much joy by making daily choices that help reduce our uses of non-degradable substances, such as oil. Oil is needed by all of us. But maybe it is time again to look at where it can be exchanged with different sources of energy.

It is not just a matter of fuel-efficiency in cars, or supporting public transport, but even the choices of clothing matter. Many artificial fabrics contain oil. Buy things that last. Think durability. A bigger investment upon purchase will save money in the end. Quality lasts. Ask questions as to where your purchases were built, what ingredients were used. We may be able to exchange our day-to-day articles but not the planet we live on.

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