Monday, April 22, 2013

I drove my car today.

Well it’s Earth Day, when we take a moment to celebrate the beauty, and lament the devastation, of our planet.  Or if you’re like me, you see the Google doodle and ponder the question: “What’s this one about... Earth Day... Is that today?”

 Earth day - the name itself speaks to the vastness of the planet, and therefore the epic proportions of the problems we face. So, on Earth Day I’m reminded that I want to solve these problems, but have absolutely zero chance of ever doing so.  But the hugeness of the issues is only one perspective; I have to remind myself of something else:  many of the biggest problems are due to collective human behavior.  And even if one person or organization (still just a small fraction of the population) are to blame for some destructive act toward our planet, it stems from an attempt to meet the demands of a much larger group of individuals (us...).

I don’t want to go plant trees.  I can’t stop driving my car.  But, there are lots of more insidious problems that I easily have control over by the decisions I make every day.  So, on Earth Day 2013 I’m reminding myself of the things I can do as an individual to reduce my contribution to earth damaging activities. And maybe as you read this it will remind you as well.

  • Turn lights off when you’re not using them, and invest in energy saving bulbs.

  • Save your plastic grocery bags and recycle them (your favorite store probably has a recycling bin for bags right by the door).
    Better yet, take your reusable bags with you - like me, you probably have a bunch of cool-looking ones but always forget to use them!

  • Cut apart plastic loops before you throw them away (so wild life won’t get caught in them).

  • Hold onto your empty can or glass bottle until you can put it in a recycle bin, resist that temptation to toss it in the nearest trash can (but hey, at least you’re not throwing it on the ground).

  • Buy beef farmed sustainably (try Alberta beef!)

  • Check the source of seafood (Monterey Bay Aquarium has a handy app).

  • Wash your vegetables. Don’t get hepatitis or some other crazy disease - if you stay healthy, you’ll consume fewer resources.

  • Don’t dump your radioactive nuclear waste down the drain or in your backyard (just in case you've been doing that and were wondering...).

And now I’m pondering the question: “Did I remember to turn off that light when I left for school today?”

So, what else should be on this list? What are some ways you’re helping the planet simply by making a different decision as you go through your day?