Look up. Look Down. When you go about your days, how often is it that you take the time to soak up the wonder that surrounds you on this good Earth? Rediscover the clouds, the grass underfoot, the bark of a tree. These marvels that so entertained you as a child are still there – they’re just often lost in the blur of our daily lives. Nothing new really – Henry David Thoreau famously marooned himself in a cabin of his own construction in 1845 to get back to nature, and partly because he thought life was becoming too fast paced! In 1970, some of us thought we were so far off track, they petitioned the UN for an international day to celebrate and honor the Earth. What can you do to start your own tradition this April 22nd when it rolls around again? We’ve got a few ideas!
Swap your Trashcans: This idea is so easy and useful, you’ll slap yourself for not thinking of it yourself. If you already do this, congrats! In most households, the vast majority of “waste” created isn’t food waste, it’s packaging waste. So, to up your recycling game – and allow less stink to hang around in the kitchen – start using your large, regular trash container as your recycling bin, and use a smaller trashcan (not a bin, per se) as your food waste receptacle. In communities where recycling is comingled, you’ll rejoice at how easy this makes your life. Communities that require separation of packaging materials present a greater challenge, but the principle is still the same. If you go this route, you’ll also save a bunch of money on trash bags because you’ll usually be able to get by with just using the plastic bags from your grocery purchases for waste. Give it a shot!
Become an amateur scientist! If you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, you might want to consider composting. Whether you live in an apartment, or have a big backyard, composting is a great way to keep a lot (but not all) of the above food waste out of landfills, so it can be put to better use growing a garden. How’s that for an idea? Here’s a great cursory write-up on how to get started! Cool with worms? There’s also vermicomposting, where the worms do most of the work!
Eliminate harmful chemicals from your world: There are arguments in favor of harsh cleaners and air fresheners – mainly, that they’re easy to buy and use, they work well with less scrubbing (!), and well, they smell nice. Vinegar, borax, soap powder, lemon and water may not seem like good cleaning alternatives, but before the advent of modern cleaners this is what everyone used, and they work. Here’s a great list of cleaners and air-fresheners you can make at home, just like your great-great grandma did once upon a time. By making and keeping your own stash, you’ll find yourself more invested in the process, the environment, and your health.
Enjoy resource frugality: Okay, shoppers, this one is gonna’ hurt. We know you love to recycle, but how good are you at the first two “R’s” in that trio, which is actually “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle?” How good are you at wearing clothing till it’s outlived its usefulness? How often do you then take that well-worn shirt and turn it into a rag? Our older relatives most likely did this sort of thing all time, and other than doing well by the environment, they also saved a lot of money in the process. If we all invested a little bit more energy in steps one and two of the 3 R’s, we’d have to recycle less, and we’d live a largely clutter free and more financially independent life. The government, of course, has a number of great suggestions as to how we can get there together.
So what do you think? In honor of International Earth Day, do you wanna’ give it a shot?