Each year on April 22nd, the World celebrates Earth Day by posting lots of memes on social media about the plastic ocean while sipping drinks through straws and casually getting their to-go’s in styrofoam.
Wellness comes in many forms, and our own personal wellness is directly informed by the wellness of our environment. The Earth is in a pretty critical state right now, and there are so many wonderful advocates out there working to fix things. It can get overwhelming when you’re just one person being bombarded with all of these horrors. You don’t know where to start, so you just… don’t.
Here’s a secret though: Earth Day is any day you can do something to make this place a little better.
Start small, start local. Develop better habits. As those things become easier, try new ones. Looking for a place to get started? Here are five easy things you can start doing today to make the world a better place.
- Drop the plastic straws. You guys, we use so many of them, and they just don’t degrade. And they’re not necessary. If you’re eating in a dining establishment, their high-grade washers are designed to disinfect the dinnerware. And if you’re eating at a place where you don’t trust the hygiene, maybe you should ask yourself the larger question of why the hell you’re eating there in the first place. Just can’t get over the ick factor? Invest in some reusable straws that you can clean and carry with you.
- Reusable shopping bags FTW. Cease and desist with the plastic shopping bags. I switched over about ten years ago and have never looked back. Honestly, having to remember them is about the only downside. But they are so much more durable than the crappy plastic bags the stores always use, and you can fit twice as much in them. They’re also a lot easier to carry. Already killin’ it with reusable shopping bags? Stop bagging your produce, or invest in some reusable produce bags you can bring from home.
- Be kind. Our world is more than our physical environment, it is also the people in the environment. All of these people have basic human rights and needs. Recognize that we are not just individuals making our own way in a vacuum, but smaller parts of a larger whole. In recognizing ourselves in others, we see that our actions directly affect the people around us, and the world we move through. In treating others well, they are more likely to treat others kindly, and so it spreads. When people care (about something, someone) they are more likely to take care. Somewhere along the line, it became okay to not care. Change that.
- Use things for as long as possible. Our grandparents and great-grandparents were killer at this, and it’s something that needs to come back into fashion. If clothing ripped, it got mended. If they couldn’t mend it anymore, it became rags. Rags became blankets. You wore things out. You fixed things until there was no possible way to fix it, then you took it apart and used the bits for something else. These days, it’s called upcycling and all it takes is a little creativity and possibly a Pinterest account. Use things up before you replace, recycle if at all possible, buy quality items that will last, or buy secondhand and keep things out of a landfill.
- Think critically. Our economy is built on consuming products. Which means you always need to buy more, and you will always be cajoled into buying more. But here’s a secret… it’s all a lie. We have too much. Way more than we can ever hope to consume. Thinking critically about the items you bring into your ownership means you are examining whether or not it is needed in your life. You’re not being led into a purchase through clever advertising or marketing. This is something you need, and you are willing to use it up and make sure it is responsibly taken care of at the end of its life. Don’t be a sheeple. Do the research, make informed choices. Think for yourself!
Here you go! Five easy (and maybe a little less easy) ways you can start making a difference today and every day. If you’re looking at this list and going pishposh done, done and done! You are my hero. You have leveled up. There are so many awesome resources and volunteer opportunities out there for anyone interested in getting dirty for the environment. Dig in, go for it. You rock!
How are you making the world a better place?