Happy Earth Day, readers! This post is a little late in coming because I spent my day doing a few things I needed to do, and a few more that I really just wanted to do. All in all, it was a productive day. But I did want to post something for Earth Day, because it is one of my favorite “days” of the year!
I’m a firm believer in good stewardship of our earth and it’s resources. I don’t believe we should just be “takers” or mindless consumers. And I believe the readily availability of goods has made us lazy in our stewardship.
I recently read an article in Time, titled “The Joy of Less.” In it, the author, Josh Sandburn, said “Americans have more possessions than any society in history. Children in the U.S. make up 3.1% of the world’s kid population, but U.S. families buy more than 40% of the toys purchased globally.” (My emphasis added.)
One thing I appreciate about Earth Day is the reminder to shift our gaze from the store shelves full of stuff we don’t need, or from the stuff filling our home that we don’t use, to the outside world. The earth is a resource that there is no debate: we need it. The items on your Amazon wish list, or the toys we buy our kids, they are all superfluous to our daily needs. Fresh air. Clean water. The sun. Literal connection with the ground. That, we need.
So this Earth Day, I hope you will join me in disconnecting a little bit from our consumption, and connect a little more to our stewardship. Here are a few simple ways that I attempt to do my part to take care of our beautiful world.
Recycle – I hesitated to list this for two reasons. One, it’s kind of cliche. And two, recycling is still not the greatest solution because it requires so much energy to process. Reducing our consumption is ultimately the goal, but recycling is still a healthy response to the waste we inevitable produce in the plastic, prepackaged world we live in.
One of my post-grocery shopping habits is to immediately take all of my dried goods (lentils, pasta, grains, rice, etc) and snacks that come in cardboard containers, and dump the contents into glass containers. Then I take all the cardboard to our recycling bin in one trip. It can be easy to just toss things in the trash when you are busy cooking or getting snacks, so this removes the laziness factor :-). Tip: For pasta, I simply note the cooking time on the glass container with a dry eraser marker. There is no way I would remember that otherwise!
Use Cloth Napkins – I bought paper napkins for Theo’s fourth birthday party because I’ve noticed that when I’ve used my cloth napkins in the past for entertaining large groups, some end up in the trash can! But as I picked them up at the store, it dawned on me that I haven’t bought paper napkins in over two years. TWO YEARS! I love it. I just pick up the napkins whenever I see them at thrift stores. They don’t really add to my laundry, either, as I simply toss them in with my towels. Plus, they are just so much prettier!
Use reusable baby wipes and make your own wipe solution – I love my reusable wipes. They are incredibly soft, and I just wash them with my cloth diapers (another great way to “reduce!”). You can also control what goes into the solution, per your baby’s particular skin needs. For me, I simply boil 2 Cups of water and add 2 TB of almond oil and 2 TB of Burt’s Bees All Natural Baby Wash.
Make your own hand soap – It couldn’t be easier. It lasts forever. It makes great gifts. Really, there’s no reason not to do it! You can find my instructions here. Or basically just ask Pinterest. There are a million recipes out there!
Breastfeed – Ok chill out. Yes I think that it is great-great-great if breastfeeding works for you, but I also know it doesn’t work for everyone. No. big. deal. I happen to be a big fan. I also think that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and earth friendly. I also think it is sad that as a culture, we are ok with objectifying women in vulgar and sexual ways, but we think breastfeeding is something “private” or “gross.” I think we need to grow up. Ok. Stepping of my soap box now. Returning to your planned programming….
Refresh your air naturally with house plants – Again, they are so pretty and so good for you. Why not???
Grow your own food – Even if it’s just having an herb garden, give growing your own food a try!
Teach your kids to love being outside – There is no use fighting against this plugged in, constantly connected, tecnologically driven world that we live in. Technology is great. TV is great. I love TV. But I think we are doing our kids – and ourselves – a disservice if we don’t take time to enjoy being outside. I recently heard someone talking about the danger that our national parks are in. Because our kids are spending more and more time inside, they are growing up without a connection or a passion for being in nature. And what they don’t value, they won’t grow up to protect and preserve. So teach your children well. Take them outside, and let them fall in love with all this earth has to offer.