it all starts little! if everyone does one little thing, the collective effort makes a difference. isn’t this something that everyone can agree with?
(on the flip side, if everyone thinks “well everyone else is doing it so i don’t have to,” then we’ve accomplished nothing.)
so what are we starting little on these days, besides social distancing and wearing a mask to the store and making a crapton of bread and doing 40 puzzles a day (well, that’s kind of big stuff, actually)?
we’re starting with things we can do to help the planet. we’ve seen this past month what collective effort can DO. the air clears up. the pollution levels lower. the water gets clear.
so what can we do on a personal level to start the collective effort?
- recycle. ooh big surprise. i know i’ve talked about varying levels of recycling, so you know that plastic is kind of a crapshoot, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be recycling your aluminum, glass, and tin. they recycle endlessly and you get money for aluminum cans, to boot. just do it. that means you.
- bring your reusable bag. yep, it’s hard. if you forget it, and you carried your items up to the register without a cart or basket, you can carry them to your car without a bag. if you need a bag, tell them to pack as much as possible into the bags. paper an option? take it. paper’s better on the earth than plastic. and we can plant more trees and recycle the paper. (i find it ironic that we move to plastic because we wanted to “save the trees”.)
- buy used. instead of buying something brand new, try to find a used option. now, there are exceptions to this, of course: underwear, beds, old and busted running shoes. but people give away perfectly nice sheet sets, throw pillows, pairs of jeans or work clothes because they’re one season old, jackets, books, etc. just visit your local goodwill or other used item outlet! now, sometimes craigslist or FBmarketplace is a crapshoot, but i’ve had relatively good luck. big ticket items i’ve purchased that have been perfectly wonderful? a canon lens. a lawn mower. freezer. now i’m looking for a riding lawn mower.
- reduce your plastic. this one is HUGE. HUGE. plastic use is so ubiquitous right now, and like i said before, recycling plastic is awful. maybe it costs a bit more to get the steel version of something or it takes a little more work or it’s just different to use soap that doesn’t come from a plastic bottle, but 90% of the time, the quality is better and the environmental costs aren’t as steep.
- grow some food. not only does growing your own food create less bad environmental byproducts like shipping pollution, farm tillage/topsoil depletion, and pesticide and fertilizer runoff, but it’s therapeutic, better tasting, and immensely satisfying. even if you throw a tomato plant in a pot and help it grow on your patio, you’re helping a little bit. plus, you may end up with enough pickles to last you 5 years. (personal problem.)
- compost. or try to. composting can be difficult if you don’t have the space, and if you don’t have space, you need some special equipment and you need to be mindful of your composting. even if you do have space, you still need to be mindful. i’m not that mindful of my compost pile, but it’s still there. i turn it only a couple times during the summer, which is awful, and i take a break during the winter because it’s out behind the house and i’m lazy. but i’m hoping to take some compost this spring and spread it out on my garden to till it in.
- plant. i recently read that a lot of our emissions problems could be overcome by just planting more trees. stop clearcutting forests. stop cutting down trees when building new neighborhoods and build around them. start planting everywhere. don’t want to commit to a tree? just plant a flowerbox or some perennials in your yard. more green stuff to take in the CO2 is good. and they look nice, to boot.
- drive efficiently. i’m only including this one because we are just now seeing the effects of fewer cars on the road. and while i know those of us in flyover country (or as i like to call it, most of the country) can’t not use cars as transportation, we CAN choose to drive more fuel efficient cars. and i’m hoping that the stay home orders really put into perspective what could happen if we put many more electric cars on the roads. for 90% of my use, an electric car would be perfectly fine. when it’s time to replace my nissan, i may look at an electric car.
- try. i am not a 100% follower of every one of these rules (well, except maybe recycling aluminum and glass). all you can do is try your best and hope that others are also trying their best. i see these “zero waste” people who are pretty much living as minimally as possible and off the grid, and while i would love to attain that sort of lifestyle, i know that my mindset is not there right now.
- realize. effect. the thing that i keep coming back to is that the root of everything we view as current problems: socioeconomic, health, political, power, etc. they are moot if there is no planet habitable to live on. earth don’t care if we nuke ourselves. earth don’t care if we wipe out coastal cities. earth don’t care if the ozone layer depletes (actually, the hole is now completely shut! see what can happen if we make change?). cuz you know what? earth wins every time, which has become abundantly clear these past couple months. so why not work with the earth and with other people than against? make yourself a tidy home.