Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some Things I Do To Save The Earth

We all need to be reminded/remind ourselves that our actions have an effect, not only on those around us, but on the Earth. In that spirit, I share with you some of the little things I do to reduce my consumption (which is far better than recycling in terms of its environmental impact). Colleagues in the environmental organization I worked at used to say, “I’m not telling you what to do; I’m just letting you know there are choices,” implying that the choices they/we make often have harmful effects on the environment. I don’t hold myself up as a paragon of environmental stewardship, but I try to change my habits on a daily basis. Here are some things I do:

• Air-dry my hands. I am horrified to see people using 3, 4, 5 paper towels after washing their hands. Yikes! I would love to know how much paper I have saved in the past year by not using paper towels. Paper towels = Trees.

• Re-use or bring my own cup to coffee shops. Sarah recently bought me a large, cheap plastic cup at Target that I put in my backpack and hand to the barista for my iced tea or coffee. There are all sorts of ways you can avoid using disposable cups. It may mean a slight change of habit, but, after all, don’t we continually take from the earth? Is it too much to give back a little?

• I don’t buy paper napkins, and I try not to use them at all when I’m out. Sometimes this means licking my fingers, but I’m not proud.

• I rarely use paper towels. If I have to clean up a spill, I use a cloth towel or a sponge.

• My brother is a gardener and has been trying to get me to compost, even though I don’t have a garden, and live in an apartment. So, I have begun putting my organic waste into a large plastic pitcher to rot. I’m not sure how I’m going to use it yet, but maybe I’ll get inspired to garden, or dump it somewhere where it will nourish the Earth. By not using the Insinkerator, I’m using less water (a precious commodity here in California), and less electricity.

• I don’t flush the toilet unless it’s really necessary, Enough said.

• When I’m at a public sink with an automatic switch, I keep my hands to one side so the water isn’t running constantly, then move my hands back (to the left) to rinse (then of course air-dry!).

• I use as little soap as possible to get the job done.

• I never use a straw.

• I recycle when it is possible.

• I turn off the water when I’m brushing my teeth.

• I smoke filter-less cigarettes. Did you know that filters contain plastic, and that 30% of beach trash is cigarette butts? If animals swallow them, they can die.

• I don’t watch TV. I don’t have a TV. This means less electrical usage, but most important, I’m not polluting my mind with the insidious messages continuously spewed forth by the Corporate Media. You can learn a lot more about the world by being in Nature. You can get your news online. You can watch DVDs instead of movies or shows on TV. You can recycle you TV!

• I ride the bus. I realize that it is not always practical, but, since I don’t have a car, I have no choice. We Americans believe that choice is good, and in many ways it is. But how much of this is just being spoiled or entitled? I like not having a car, because, besides the fact that I’m not spewing exhaust into the air every time I have a little errand to do, it forces me to plan carefully, it forces me to think about the world in a different way and has taught me that you don’t HAVE to have a car. Since I’ve been walking more, I have lost weight, am in better shape and see things along the way I would not normally see zooming by in an automobile, like flowers. You have a choice. You can plan your life around taking public transportation (when possible), and really save a lot of gas and protect the Earth.

• I don’t buy stuff I don’t need. I know this amounts to sacrilege in our disposable, Consumerist society, but I am trying to really think through whether I really need this magazine or whatever before I buy it. Helping the Earth means really being more conscious about how we live.

These are some of the thinks I do to save the Earth. I encourage you to be creative and find new ways to reduce consumption, and share them with me and others. We need to gently remind ourselves every day that the little things we do can have a real impact on our beloved Earth home. 

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