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Same Planet, Different Worlds

Our world is estimated to be about 4.6 billion years old. It’s one of eight planets travelling around the sun, spinning at 1,000 miles per hour. For over 3,000 million years the Earth’s only inhabitants were simple bacteria. And then the humans arrived.

Isobel Wylie Hutchison planting around Carlowrie Castle

This month we mark International Earth Day. Isobel was 81 years old when a United States senator from Wisconsin organised the first national demonstration to raise awareness about environmental issues in 1970. By then, she had travelled in Europe and the Mediterranean, to Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and the Aleutian islands. It’s incredible to think that Isobel was still ‘discovering’ several of these countries less than 50 years before this call to protect them.

The theme for Earth Day 2023 is ‘Invest in our planet’ and the official site lists ways to actively get involved.

Plant trees or a pollinator garden

While Isobel’s main notoriety comes from her Arctic exploration, one of the lasting results of her travels are the plant specimens she sent back to Kew and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Her passion for botany was evident in the early days of publishing the family newsletter, The Scribbler, and her love for nature resulted in a garden at Carlowrie Castle where you can still see much of her planting.

Reduce your plastic consumption

The first fully synthetic plastic was produced in 1907, just as the teenage Isobel was beginning to explore Scotland, embarking on walks of 100 miles or more, the sights and sounds being carefully recorded in her journals. Her adventures were all about sustainability and simplicity. Plastic signalled a new era of convenience, the antithesis of Isobel’s life and work.

Participate in advocacy

Isobel’s travels began as a personal outlet, but as she ventured further afield, she realised that her insights into other countries and customs were something to be shared. Initially it was articles, then books and speaking tours. In time, radio, film and even TV were added to the mix, all contributing to the publics greater understanding of the Arctic and its people. Isobel’s first-hand accounts of alternative ways of life broadened the horizons of all who came into contact with her and we’re still learning from them today.

Make sustainable fashion choices

While we’re used to hearing the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra, it would have been a way of life for Isobel. Not only did she live through two world wars (with their associated rationing) but she spent a large part of her life travelling (by all means available), where practicality would have been the order of the day. Hers was a world without selfies or the need for social media validation and despite the unfolding of fashion revolutions inspired by Coco Chanel and books like the Great Gatsby, Isobel’s desire was to blend in rather than stand out.

The Hutchison's values seen on Carlowrie Castle's Coat of Arms, Memor Esto - be mindful of, carved into the stone

As Isobel liked to encourage others to appreciate the world around them, so Earth Day challenges us to consider our part in the ongoing well-being of our planet. Here are some links to help you participate, (the Isobel Wylie Hutchison blog contributors are not affiliated with any of these entities, nor do we receive payment from them). #happyearthday


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The North Star Explorer

Learn more about Isobel’s passion for the natural world, her experience of travelling to remote places and her encounters expressed through art and creative writing.

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