My favorite line from Dirty Dancing is when Frank tells Doc and Neil that Baby is going to change the world and they ask Lisa what she's going to do for the world and Baby responds with "Oh Lisa's going to decorate it." I don't care if you love dirty dancing or not but I do want to know if you have ever asked yourself how you can make the world a better place? Maybe you want to make it a prettier place and decorate it like Lisa. Great! Do so by planting flowers and picking up garbage. Maybe you want to be like Baby and fight injustice and end world hunger. Even better, join green peace, feed the starving children of the world or protest oil rigs. But maybe you aren't sure what you want to do, or you just don't have the time to focus an entire career or hobby to these grand schemes but you still want to do your part. That's great too! Everyone has a part to play and Its easy to get hung up on the big things we wish we could do while ignoring all the small changes that we actually can do.
Start by using a reusable cup for coffee and NOT using the keurig. I know I have preached on it before and I am guilty of forgetting myself. But it really is not so hard to bring a cup with you where you go. If you are a woman chances are you probably are already carrying a gigantic bag so whats one more item thrown in there, and for you med, just stick a thermos in your cup holder in your car. No need to carry it everywhere you go but its there when you need it.
While we talk of reusable cups why not consider applying this to your dishes at all your meals as well. Bring a water bottle to work or school and keep filling it from drinking fountains. Keep an extra plate, bowl and silverware in your desk to avoid grabbing those pesky styrofoam and plastic alternatives from the cafeteria. Bring some extra containers when you go to dinner to wrap your leftovers in, better yet, order less food to avoid bringing leftovers altogether.
Another do-able change is to drive a little less. Notice I didn't call this an easy change, just a do-able one. This one takes a little foresight and planning. One way to make this work might be to park in a central location and walk to your destinations when running errands or shopping. The best way though is to just make less trips to town if you can help it. Keep lists and get all your running done in one day. Avoid the temptation to drive to town for every whim you or your kids has just because its only 5 minutes away. Car pool with your kids or spouse. Car pool with a coworker if you work out of town. Start seeing longer distances as walkable. Invest in a bike with a basket for running short errands. If you live out of town you could drive into town in the morning, park your car and get around on your bike all day instead of driving from place to place in your vehicle. Speaking of cars... Are you shopping for a new car? Consider better fuel economy and lower emissions. Not in the market right now? Keep your current cars air filter clean and stay up with maintenance. This will improve your cars current mileage and lower carbon emissions to some extent.
At home we can often make the most changes. Start with your lights. For one, turn them off and keep them off and two, replace the bulbs. LED lights use far less energy and last longer. Don't believe me? Visit the MN state fair conservation building next year and watch their demonstration. I guarantee you will never buy the old standard light bulbs again. And do you really need all the lights turned on in your house? Another at home fix. Unplug your appliances. Does your toaster need to be plugged into the wall when you aren't home? These appliances use a tiny bit of energy by being plugged in. It may not make a drastic difference but remember every little step counts. Lets talk about appliances. When it comes time to buy new make sure you look for the energy efficient versions. These are easy to find and although the initial price tag may be higher, ultimately you have more savings and are protecting the environment in the end. Another at home easy step is to cut back on our water use. Shorter showers, pack that dishwasher, less small loads of laundry, water the lawn at night or don't water it at all. Use the fish tank water for the plants.
Regarding greenery.... plant a tree! How easy is this? I once read a quote that said "If trees gave us wi-fi signals we would be planting them every day, instead they only provide oxygen..." I am paraphrasing of course but the point is trees are important and we are losing them faster than we can plant them. There is almost no reason not to go plant a tree on occasion. Want a resource for seedlings? Visit www.arborday.org .
The best way to make a change is to just consume less. If we aren't buying new things then we aren't throwing away old things. Reuse, repair, recycle your old items. And when you do make purchases buy quality. Purchase items that are going to last and are investments rather than buying cheap, on trend pieces.
There are endless ways to make a difference, the important thing is to do something. And on top of doing something encourage others to do something. Let them see you recycling paper at work, let them see your cute glass water bottle. Let your family see you taking shorter showers and turning lights off during the day. Be the example you want to see. I truly believe that like health and wealth and all the other things we care about, to see a big difference we have to make small changes and together we can create a cleaner and healthier world around us.