Saving the Earth can feel overwhelming, because it is overwhelming.
I had coffee with a friend recently and she was telling me that it’s hard to know which environmental practices to follow since there are so many problems. She wasn’t sure where to start. I know that most of us feel the same way often. Thank you, Amanda, for inspiring this blog post.
It gets to all of us, even me! Though driven by a genuine heartfelt desire to do everything I can to protect the planet, the animals, and ourselves, even I get overwhelmed. Last week I felt despair and defeat when I learned about the lax environmental policies under Brazil’s President (much like the environmental attitude of our own president) that have resulted in rainforests burning down. These fires were likely intentionally set in order to clear land to use to make profits, and the hot and dry conditions spread them quickly. This week the fires are still burning and the devastation spreads. Scientists indicate that these fires are an 85% increase over last year’s fires.
The rainforests provide 20% of the Earth’s oxygen. Do we really want to do that to ourselves? Deprive ourselves of oxygen? I’m not even addressing the many species that inhabit the rainforests. Or the fact that the rainforest, in essence, cyclically filters the Earth’s air. Or that rainforests help maintain the temperature of the entire planet.
But it’s not really the Earth that we’re trying to save.
It’s humankind and all living creatures that we are trying to protect. We can’t really destroy the planet. The planet will go on without us. But if we keep polluting the ocean, burning down the rainforests, egregiously using up all of the natural resources, and contributing to global warming – yes, we will all die off. Permanently. But the Earth will keep turning.
So what can we do?
Keep trying, keep spreading the message. Do as much good as you can. Spread love and kindness and others will follow.
The best thing to do is start simple. More specifically, start with just one thing. Begin with one small mission, such as refusing plastic bags. Buy some canvas bags at the craft store and keep them in your car for shopping. You can use them for any shopping – the grocery store, department stores, pharmacies, bookstores, any store!
If the plastic waste from food and beverages bothers you, I’ve got a list of 11 Ways to go Plastic Free with Food.
Maybe you’re more concerned about the disposable coffee cups you’re using every day. Buy a plastic-free reusable coffee mug (I personally recommend Hydroflask) and bring that to the coffee shop every day. Some shops will even give you a small discount for using your own cup.
Perhaps you’re tired of buying gas for your car from one of the worst industries known to the modern world: Big Oil. They drill and spill and don’t care. Is it time for an electric car? Is this even a viable option? From what I’ve been told by two Tesla owners, it is a viable option. Other electric cars have had limits on travel before requiring a recharge, but Tesla has exponentially improved this. If the unacceptable actions of petroleum companies are what bothers you most, start with this issue by researching electric cars. Personally, I’d like to save up for a Tesla! Might take me a little time though.
The way we trash our own landscapes may be what upsets you. Read my post about Litterati and download the app. Join local trash clean-ups, or just pick up trash in your own neighborhood! Any garbage, especially plastics, prevented from washing down storm drains (which usually end up in the ocean) is a small but important help!
Those are just a few examples. It doesn’t matter what problem you fix first, because any change you make will make a small but oh-so-important difference. You can do this. We can do this. And each time you conquer one challenge, you’ll find yourself motivated to conquer another. It’s addictive, trust me.
This week my newest change is that I joined a green initiative committee at work. I’ve also requested a recycling bin for the office so that I can take the office recyclables home since we do not have adequate recycling.
Many bloggers, myself included, have lists and guides with ways to start. Beth Terry of myplasticfreelife.com has a page called 100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life. I have a list of books, films, Individuals Making a Difference, and websites to help you learn more. Subscribe to my blog and I’ll show you how I’m tackling one problem at a time. Contact me if you have topics you’d like me to investigate or write about. Follow other bloggers too – and we can all work through these problems together.
So what about the rainforests?
I don’t have any great advice on this, except to pay attention to what’s going on and vote for people who aren’t idiots. Here’s a CNN interview with Jeff Corwin (if you’re not aware, I’m a fan of his but more importantly he’s become a symbol of good stewardship in regards to wildlife and environmentalism).
I’m very sad about the rainforests, and I bet you are too if you’re reading this. But staying sad won’t change anything when it comes to environmental issues. Taking action will. Thank you for reading, and please subscribe!