Here we are, April 30th, the last of the 30 Days of Green.
In celebration of Earth Day, I thought why limit the celebration to just one day? Why not spend the entire month learning and discussing ways to protect our families and protect our planet by becoming eco-conscious and taking small steps toward living a big green life? For that matter, why devote just one day, one month, or one year? Why not devote your ONE lifetime to the environmental movement?
For years, we’ve heard of the “three Rs”– reduce, reuse, recycle. I’d like to posit a few more. OK, so I’m not the first to do this--I’ll borrow and expand on a great quote from Simran Sethi, a journalist and environmental activist:
“Reduce, reuse, recycle, redefine, retreat, revive, restore, repair, relate, reimagine...repeat.”
The beauty of these “R” words is that you can create for yourself your own definitions, intentions, and actions. And maybe add a few R-words of your own.
Here are some of my favorites and a little of what they mean to me--my own Tenets of Eco-Activism, if you will:
- Reduce - Consume less, waste less, simplify (remember: less is often more)
- Reuse - Find new uses for old things, buy used, share or give away
- Recycle - Don’t throw away what can be recycled, try to have more recyclables than actual trash, buy items with recycled content whenever I can
- Replenish - When it comes to consuming and using earth’s resources, I need to give back at least, if not more, than I take (create, rather than destroy)
- Respect - Respect nature, Earth, life (and others--even if they don’t feel or believe the same way I do)
- Redefine - What does it mean for me to be green? What sort of role model do I want to be for my children? How can I learn from my mistakes?
- Rethink - I aim to constantly assess my daily habits and actions. Ask myself what is my footprint upon this earth? Am I working toward a better environment? How can I do better?
- Rebel - How can I think differently? Do differently? Be different? How do I stand up for myself and my beliefs against the “norm” or against generations of steadfastness?
- Relate - Remember this is an Earth filled with living things. How are we connected? How are we dependent on one another? Use communication as a tool for change. Love one another.
- Repeat - Do my best to practice what I preach. Keep trying. Keep evolving. Keep learning. Strive not for perfection, but for progress.
What are your tenets of eco-activism – what R words can you add? And note that when I say eco-activist, I’m not implying a life of political involvement or outspoken, outlandish actions. You can be an eco-activist simply by making small, quiet changes – recycle, pick up litter, stop buying bottled water – that add up to big impact. Alternatively, you can take stronger steps – vote, contact your government officials, be vocal. Either way, if you have a passion for preserving Earth, your thoughts and actions, no matter how big or small, will make a difference.
I didn’t become an eco-activist overnight. A few years ago I wouldn’t have thought much beyond reduce, reuse, recycle – and even then I didn’t fully understand what those three Rs meant.
Honestly, I cannot pinpoint when or why I decided to “go green.” It’s been a long process and frankly I’m still in the process. What I do know is that I’m a voracious reader and a lifelong learner so the more I learned about the green movement, the more I wanted to know. It just began to feel “right,” personally, to make decisions that I knew were healthier for both myself (and now my family) and the environment.
But mine wasn’t a smooth, upward trajectory to living green. I remember feeling overwhelmed because I wanted to recycle but I didn’t know how and I didn’t know what my previous city's regulations were. It took me a few months to finally make some phone calls, change my habits, and start to recycle.
Slowly I started questioning more of my habits–thinking about what I was eating and drinking, what I was using on my skin, what products I purchased, how I cleaned, how my actions impacted others–and most importantly, how my actions, for better or for worse, impacted the world.
I started feeling responsible for taking care of Earth–for doing my part no matter how small that part was.
And of course once I had children, my level of awareness and concern greatly multiplied. For now I was responsible for their well-being–their health, their safety, their development into compassionate and responsible human beings.
I’m not perfect–I’ve had periods of environmental amnesia and I’ve made selfish (bad) decisions that weren’t in alignment with my core beliefs. I’m still learning, every day, and I’m still working toward something–something greater than myself. I’m trying to do the best I can with what I know. And when I know better, I do better.
In sharing what I know these past 30 days, I’ve learned so much. What was supposed to be 30 days of quick, simple tips, turned into 30 days of constant thinking, researching, processing and writing about what is important to me and what I thought might be important to you. I struggled with the dichotomies of succinct versus verbose, simple versus complex, and incomplete versus excessive.
I wanted to share everything I knew but I didn’t want to lose you, as readers, in the details or the philosophy. I wanted to define, explain, teach, and inspire. But I didn’t want to explode your brain with too much information or hit you too hard in the head or heart in order to make a point.
Perhaps I’ve done all these things or none, but for 30 days I gave you my best tips, resources, and ideas (and I could probably go on for another 300 days!). Thank you for reading and thank you for responding–whether in silent reflection or in your comments and e-mails.
I provided you some fuel–all you need to do is provide the spark. Together, let’s ignite a blazing new world of green!
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