Sunday, April 22, 2012

The assertive environmentalist

In celebration of Earth Day (which is today!) I'm planning on doing a few posts this week that touch on some Earth-friendly ideas.  I couldn't help but think about the post I did last year, called the sneaky environmentalist, and do something along the same lines, but a little more assertive.  Here are a few ideas I came up with:

1.  Find a positive role model (no one that you'd see on a tabloid cover, please).  Read a book by or about that person.  I've always admired Al Gore's crusade on climate change.  He's written a few books on the topic, and perhaps I might just check one out of the library.  This book also looked very inspiring - Heroes of the Environment - True Stories of People Who Are Helping to Protect Our Planet:

It really doesn't even need to be an environmentally-themed book.  I think reading a book about someone who you admire can only help inspire you to do something to make the world a better place.  That sounds like a very good thing indeed!
Be assertive......recommend your chosen book to a friend.

2.  Know your food (and its packaging).  Did you know that soft drinks and foods sweetened with aspartame create a byproduct of formaldehyde in the body, and could be responsible for a whole host of health problems?  We certainly can't help the environment be healthy if we aren't healthy.  And, the aluminum can that the soft drink comes in - it will take over 500 years to decompose in a landfill (here is a great website on recycling facts).  Ditch processed foods & you will be healthier and happier.........and so will our planet.
Be assertive.......eliminate processed foods (and fast food) from your diet and the diet of your family

3.  Recycle!  It's probably not realistic to think you can stop buying all processed foods.  So what you do buy, make sure to recycle the packaging.  Your can of diet soda becomes everyone's problem if it ends up in a landfill.  Many communities have curbside recycling and/or recycling drop off centers - take advantage of them.  

As for plastic bags, don't accept them when you buy something at the grocery store, or any other retailer.  Use re-usable bags.  Even though the plastic bags they give you are recyclable, many of the Earth's resources are used to make the bags.  Eliminate the need for them at all by reusing.  Here are a few interesting facts about plastic bags (& paper bags), courtesy of 1 Bag at a Time:

- 14 plastic bags contain enough petroleum to drive a car a mile
- 380 billion plastic bags or wraps are thrown away in America each year
- Making a paper bag emits 70% more global warming gases than making a plastic bag
- 0 paper bags biodegrade in landfills due to lack of oxygen
- Cities spend up to 17 cents per bag in disposal costs, wasting millions of tax dollars

Be assertive......recycling & reusing are so easy - just do it!

4.  Make your food homemade & grow a garden.  I didn't realize these were on last year's list as well.  To avoid being redundant, I'll share a few homemade-food-and-gardening pics.  Enjoy!
Making homemade blueberry muffins this morning:

These chives grow all on their own, I do nothing.  They grow among a bunch of weeds, in a patch that gets mowed.  Seriously ambitious little chives:

Be assertive.....ditto what I said last year, better for your health, better for the environment.  Make your neighbor some homemade goodies or share something from your garden to spread the goodness

5.  To get to the future, we have to go back to the past.  New technologies have made our lives fast paced and a great deal of what we encounter disposable.  Maybe we need to live a little more like our predecessors and slow down a bit.  Slow Food USA is an organization that encourages us to slow down and bring food production back to grassroots, local levels.  Homesteading is another way to accomplish the same goal - there's definitely no transportation costs if you can get the eggs from your own backyard hens.  In the past, if we needed something, industrious men and women would just make it themselves.  Think clothes.  Now, the first thought most people have is to head to a mall or big-box store to buy their clothes.  Why not try making something you need, or buy it secondhand?  You'll be saving the earth a lot of resources.  And of course, there's always clotheslines......we've never had one before, but DH is putting one up for me this Spring.

The Bach girls insisted I take a shot with undies.....they thought that was absolutely hysterical:

Be assertive....WWGD?  (What Would Granny Do?)

6.  Get your kids involved.  Let's talk about Christmas for a moment.  It pretty much takes over the nation during the month of December, no matter your religious preference.  If we focused just a tiny bit of that energy towards Earth Day in April, more and more families might get involved.  And more kids would see that it's important.  I think things are shifting this way a bit, but there's still a long way to go.  And of course, make every day Earth Day!
Be assertive..... show your kids that being environmentally friendly is cool, by your actions and by your attitude.  Get involved in an Earth Day activity in your town.

7.  Turn off the TV - have game night instead.  Sure, turning off the TV saves electricity.  But even more, it will stop the constant barrage of advertisements reaching your child's impressionable eyes.  The more ads kids see, the more they want, and before you know it, you've got little commercialism-zombies living in your house.  Play a board game with your kids instead, and they'll enjoy your company & some family time, while learning some new skills, like squashing the competition with hotels:

Be Park Place and Boardwalk if you land on them - trust me, it will pay off!

Happy Earth Day!

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