On Jan. 1, as the familiar notes of “Auld Lang Syne” peal out into the earliest morning hours of the New Year, you might toast to old friends, kiss a loved one, and let your mind briefly flicker to that New Year’s resolution you made with every good intention of some sort of change. Smarter diet choices, more time spent with your spouse, a solemn vow to increase your steps; these are all good things. But what about adding something bigger to your list, something that can make an impact for your kids, and their kids, and their kids. This year, let’s all resolve to take a little bit better care of our most underappreciated and yet most important relative: Mother Earth.
The Three Rs
Remember that clever phrase that was instilled in us all as children? “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.” Such a simple concept, and yet one that is so very critical to the sustainability and health of our Earth. It’s easy to say you’re going to recycle, but are you recycling? Are you really? The next time your full hand moves towards the trash, clutching some form of paper or plastic, imagine how much space this item is going to take up in a landfill. Really think about it.
That plastic water bottle, that cardboard box, that collection of soda cans; how much space are these items taking up inside our Earth? Making a difference is as easy as reducing your footprint (by making choices such as taking your lunch in a lunchbox versus a paper bag), reusing whenever possible (like replacing plastic straws or disposable diapers with reusable versions) and exploring local recycling options (like buying products that can be recycled, including aluminum water cans instead of plastic, and reusable bags instead of single-use plastic bags). And if you need some inspiration, take a quick trip to your local landfill. It can be a very eye-opening experience.
Hug a Tree (or a Chicken)
Fifteen billion trees are cut down each year, and the global tree count has dropped almost 50 percent since humans first made the scene. 20,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest is destroyed every year, and more than 20 percent of it is already gone. Sure, they are lovely to look at, but trees mean so much more than that, taking in extraordinary amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and producing most of the oxygen that all animals (including humans) depend on to live. So, let’s all take a moment and hug a tree. Or better yet, plant a few. And while we’re on the subject of taking care of the Earth’s creatures (great and small), another way to help the Earth is in making more informed decisions when buying food. Choosing to support organizations that practice agricultural sustainability and ethical farming (such as free-range and cruelty-free) is a powerful step in the care and keeping of our Earth.
It’s said that for a relationship to work, both parties need to consider the other as much as they consider themselves. What if we really thought about how our actions affect the Earth, and then we made changes to lower our negative impact by lessening our footprint? It’s in the small decisions, like taking our coffees in reusable cups or turning the water off while brushing our teeth, and it’s in the bigger decisions, like choosing an electric car, supporting Earth-friendly products, or taking the bus to work instead of driving altogether. If we practice consciousness in our everyday lives, making a conscious effort to notice how our actions are negatively impacting the environment, then we can form better habits, make better choices, and teach our children a way of living that takes better care of our Earth.
“Should old acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind?” What older acquaintance do we have than the Earth, and how sad that we often treat our oldest friend with such disrespect, without really thinking about her at all? Let this be the year we decide to better care of our Earth and its environment. With a few conscious choices, let’s assure the chance to ring in a new year for many, many years to come.