I love the planet. I love the trees and the bees, and the flowers and the oceans and the…well you get the picture. I am an idealist, for sure. I am also lazy. it’s true! I’m a lazy daisy and have to work very hard to live my my ideals….even then, I drop the ball sometimes. Louis CK has a great quote ” I have a lot of beliefs, and I live by none of them”. He goes on to talk about how good just having these beliefs makes him feel about himself; and how inconvenient living by said beliefs are. I would just like to sidebar for a quick moment to share how brilliant I find Louis CK; Fucking hilarious, especially his views on parenting, but I digress.
When I was young I thought I could save the world. I made my own grocery bags, marched at rallies, even canvassed door to door one summer to promote the Clean Water Bill in California. So much work….and nobody heard me. I was burned out and bummed out with humanity in general before I was 20. Now, 20 years later, I have found that my ideals remain the same. Sometimes I’m even ashamed of myself for turning my back on them for so long. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t spend the last two decades throwing trash out my window on the freeway, whilst trying to kill endangered species and burn plastic bags at the same time. I just got complacent. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s a simple thing, that happens all too often. It was just safer for myself to be numb to it all. I managed this apathy for many, many years.
Thanks to my husband’s deep love in documentaries, I have learned so much over the past five years. I dove into the knowledge, drinking in huge gulps of it, feeling almost drunk with it. Then, I grew sad again, overwhelmed; and disappointment quickly turned into depression. It is all so daunting. Climate change, the water is rising, the air is poisoned, the underground lakes and rivers are disappearing, the food is poison, the HUGE piles of non decomposing trash, the gyres are growing stagnant in the ocean, the fighting over oil, all of this….and what possible impact could I be? I’ve come to realize, probably not very much; but I’ll be damned if I don’t try!
I am not perfect, not even close. I have found, however, that there are some ways to do my part for this glorious planet of ours on a small and manageable scale. Even the laziest of lazy bones can do this. Trust me, I’m as lazy as they come. The list below is just a scratch at the myriad of ways we can help our planet. I chose to list these, because they are simple and require very little. Think of it as a starter kit for being an environmentalist.
1) Bring your own bags to the store
Here in California, many cities and counties are starting to ban plastic bags. It’s wonderful! However, you don’t need The Man bossing you around, do you? Heck no! So don’t wait for government to catch up with doing what’s right; lead the way yourself. It’s a very simple habit, once you get used to it. I always keep bags in my trunk now, and it’s highly convenient. I also keep a tiny little one in my purse just in case. If you need any more convincing about how horrible plastic bags are, just watch Bag It. It’s a great film, and loaded with so much information it just might change your life.
2) Buy Local Organic Food
How many times have you heard that one? Perhaps you are already doing this, or at least when it’s convenient. Or perhaps you see the term “organic” as a marketing ploy to hike up prices. There are many reasons to choose organic food, like: preserving ecosystems, avoiding chemicals, reducing pollution, and preserving agricultural diversity, to name a few. Organic foods are not more expensive because they have smaller yields (as many proponents of GMOs say). They are expensive, largely, because of the rigorous testing and certification they must endure to be certified as organic. There’s also the fact that maintaining livestock in a humane way is waaaaaay more expensive that just shoving them in cages their whole life. If you want to read more about this, check out this article. Local food? Even better! If you can get to a farmer’s market and actually meet and support the people growing your food that’s awesome. Plus, local food is far fresher than anything you’d find in a store. Did you know that an orange bought in a store today was probably picked at least two weeks ago? Yep. True story. Here are a few easy ways to find organic food for you and your family: Farmstand App will help you find community Farmer’s Markets in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Eat Wild can help you find organic and sustainable farms in your area, and Clean Plates can help you find optimal dining out choices, too.
3) Save the bees!
I’ll admit it, whenever I see a bee close to me, my first instinct is fear “please don’t sting me, Mr. Bee!”. I’d say that’s normal. Bee stings hurt. What we need to remember is that 1) bees don’t want to sting you; it costs them their life and 2) we need the bees! ” Pollinators transfer pollen and seeds from one flower to another, fertilizing the plant so it can grow and produce food. Cross-pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive.2 Without bees to spread seeds, many plants—including food crops—would die off.” ~NRDC.org. So stop using pesticide right now, plant some wildflowers and clover in your gardens, heck if you’re game there’s even a cool, new, simple to use beehive coming to market soon. Fresh, raw honey whenever you want it? That, alone is a reason to save to bees!
4) Re-Use everything you can
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Catchy, right? It can also be fun to do. Fortunately for me, our waste company does all the recycling work for us. So I put my energy into reusing as much as we can. As I type this, I’m sipping my water from a former jelly jar. In fact, most of the drinking glasses in our home were once something else. I have a real soft spot for jars and bottles. I use wine bottles to hold my bracelets, my vases used to be mustard jars and kombucha bottles, I’m saving scraps of worn out clothes to make a rag rug (one day…I’ll get around to actually doing it), old tee shirts become produce bags (it’s super simple), old toothbrushes are saved for cleaning, well, you get the picture. Once you’re truly done with something, donate it if you can; and buy used items too! I could go on and on here, but I think you’re picking up what I’m putting down, yes?
5) Teach! Friends, Children, Everyone!
Honestly, if you’re doing any (or maybe all) of the above, this last one is a given. Everyone knows saving the planet is a
good necessary thing, that doesn’t make it any less daunting. For me, I think about teaching my children first. When I talk to them about these things, their eyes tend to glaze over, but when they see me doing the things I talk about, they get interested. One of my daughter’s favorite books is “Fancy Nancy, Everyday is Earth Day”; and despite the fact we don;t have a yard to garden in,both kids are obsessed with growing things. I’ve tried (and continue to try) with my parents, but I think it’s safe to say that focusing on the kids is a great way to go. But don’t forget about the rest of the world. It can be fun! What if you started a walking group of girlfriends who pick up litter as they go? Or how about you host a monthly environmental documentary screening for your friends once a month? Perhaps you approach the local elementary school to start a gardening club. There are so many ways to share this information in ways that are more fun that preachy. Every time I whip out my bags at the store, I like to think I just might be planting the seed for the person behind me. Hey, you never know, right?