We didn’t do Earth Day this year. Not really.
Yes, we read The Lorax and another eco-conscious book from the library, but that’s not really out of the ordinary. We made sure to schedule in a trip to a local e-waste recycling event, but we had stuff to discard that couldn’t be put in the landfill, and we would have done that even if the event wasn’t held in conjunction with Earth Day. We combined that trip with a run to the grocery store and remembered our reusable bags, but living in the country has already made us more conscious of our gas usage, and I always take my bags.
The point is that we try to do Earth Day every day. Which is really the overarching point. “Make every day Earth Day.”
I say try because we are human, and we don’t always succeed, but we keep trying. We make small changes, all the time, and those small changes compound to effect big change on the part of our family. I believe that everyone can do something more, that there is always room for taking that next step.
I’ve written about the things that we throw away, and assessing your own garbage is a great place to start. Sending less to the landfill overall is important, and it’s also important to be aware of the kinds of things you do or do not throw away. We’ve had a small pile of busted electronics growing in our laundry room for quite a while. J’s propensity for acquisition extends to useful tech (he’s super skilled at troubleshooting and repairing), and while it’s really nice to have my own IT guy around, it does mean that we have to be aware of the electronic discards: the worthless laptop battery and power cord, the unreliable external hard drive, etc. This stuff not only resists decomposition, it can also leach nastiness into the ground. It’s our responsibility to be cognizant of these issues, and take appropriate action.
I personally feel that our responsibility extends to an awareness of the community around us, and what we can do to help. On one of our visits to the nearby spring, we saw that someone had dumped an old television down the hill and into the woods. We didn’t dump it, and it was heavy and dirty, but we hauled it out and took it with our own pile of junk to the recycling event. As the Once-ler says, “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Our family has also been making a bigger effort to consume less plastic. I haven’t gotten to shopping in bulk just yet, but three very intentional changes to the way we operate have already made a big difference.
1. I don’t use plastic in the produce section. I have three washable, reusable mesh bags, and one cotton bag, all with drawstrings that I use to bag loose fruits and veggies at the store. They’re lightweight enough to not add to the cost of my food, and super strong, and you would not believe the number of conversations they have started with cashiers and other shoppers. I toss them into my tote of regular shopping bags so that I always have them. As a result, I’ve eliminated those filmy plastic bags, as well as the cheap twisty-ties provided by the store.
2. I buy our spices in glass jars. This is a relatively new development for me. When we lived in Baltimore, the price of spices was crazy high, and the need to cut costs outweighed my eco goals. It was so exciting to arrive here and see that in many cases, the spices in glass were less expensive than the ones in plastic, even the organics. Next time you need to restock, check the price by volume. If it’s comparable, or just a few cents more, this might be a simple change you can make. I’ve got a couple of different brands in my cabinet right now, though you can see I’m still phasing out the plastics.
3. We no longer use liquid hand soap. Well, we still have a pump and a big refill bottle in the girls’ bathroom because at 2 and 4, tidiness and ease of use for my kids are the deciding factors. However, we use bar soap and hand towels everywhere else. It’s just as effective, and creates so much less waste. It also gives me the opportunity to support small businesses. I’m having fun trying different kinds, but my favorite bar soaps are made by my dad’s Cousin Janis and her son Brian, and sold in their Country Cottage Etsy shop. In fact, I need to re-order. I love the Gardener’s Soap, a clean smelling exfoliating bar that helps get the dirt off. .A close second is the Patchouli, because…patchouli!
**And, to help you get started, Brian has offered a 20% discount on their soaps by using the code COUNTRY20 at checkout. Tell him I sent you!**
What small steps have you taken to make a change? I’d love to hear what has or hasn’t worked for your family!