If you’ve been visiting here long, you probably know that our family is preeeeeeetty big on Lord of the Rings. So, fair warning – nerd references abound in this post!
“What can men do against such reckless hate?” This was the excerpt from Lord of the Rings that popped into my brother’s head after we learned about the tragic events surrounding the Boston Marathon.
It’s true – it’s sometimes hard not to succumb to that nagging thought, that occasional idea that maybe we can't really do all that much to combat the negativity and violence that can sometimes seem so pervasive in our world.
In searching for an answer to this question, originally posed by King Theoden when faced with an increasingly grim outlook on an impending battle, I thought of something Gandalf says to Galadriel in The Hobbit:
“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”
I can’t think of a message more appropriate for Earth Day. It can be easy to sometimes think to ourselves, “What difference will it really make for little me to do this one thing?” I believe it truly makes a world of difference. Small acts add up fast, and in honor of that idea, I wanted to share five little things we can all do to be kinder to Earth on a daily basis.
Try doing one, a few, or all of these for a few weeks, and you’ll be astounded at how many times you have a chance to not contribute to the ever-growing waste stream, as well as how very easy it is to change your routine & develop them as habits. They’re not novel or ingenious, but rather quick reminders of how simple it can be to make a change for the better.
- Refuse a bag, plastic or otherwise, whenever you’re offered one. Most of the time, it’s just as easy (if not easier) to carry something in your hands or put it in your handbag or work bag as it is to carry it in a bag. Before accepting a bag, ask yourself if you can carry it or stow it elsewhere. Plus, there are so many more appealing ways to carry stuff around if you're planning a bigger shopping trip. Baggu is my favorite source for super stylish reusable bags.
- Change your coffee routine. If you don’t want to carry your own coffee mug around (I understand there’s certainly a limit to how much we want to tote with us on a daily basis), there are still plenty of things you can do to cut down on the daily waste that cups from the morning caffeine fix. Skip the sleeve and bring your own (tons of options on Etsy), skip the stirrer stick if you’re only adding milk, and don’t opt for a splash stick unless you anticipate a bumpy journey.
- Carry a water bottle, especially when traveling. I prefer glass options these days – they don’t leach strange metallic or plastic-y tastes (or anything strange chemicals), plus they’re completely recyclable if they ever break or you grow tired of them. I have a Lifefactory bottle currently, but I’ve been eyeing these BKR bottles for quite some time. For some reason, I used to carry a water bottle around daily without ever thinking of taking one to the airport – but that’s an ideal place to bring them, especially considering that’s one of the only places I now ever buy bottled water.
- Choose compostable/biodegradeable garbage and produce bags. Regular plastic bags take hundreds and hundreds of years to break down, if they ever do, and even then, they don’t biodegrade. Instead of getting broken down naturally by microbes and being reused by our environment, they simply get broken down into smaller and smaller bits of plastic that gunk up the ecosystem and food chain. Exhibit A: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
- Choose personal care products without petrochemicals or plastics. We use these products every single day, sometimes multiple times per day, for a lifetime. Luckily, there are tons and tons of options out there, now even in regular grocery stores and drugstores, that don’t include petrochemicals. Examples of these ingredients are petroleum jelly, mineral oil, paraffin, propylene glycol, acetone, all phthalates (often disguised as ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’), toluene, isopropyl alcohol…the list goes on. Obviously, petrochemicals come from crude petroleum, a nonrenewable resource. Plus, there have been quite a few reports & studies about them being bad for sking & causing premature aging.
I hope you'll consider trying out some of these small, everyday acts of kindness to our one & only Earth!