image courtesy of Steve Snodgrass on Flickr
Being Kinder to Our Home Planet
I’m hopeful that within the next few decades, science will solve some of Earth’s biggest problems, Star Trek style. Like they’ve done before (hello, tablets?), inventors will get inspired by science fiction and figure out new ways to generate energy, harvest resources without ruining the ecosystem, and deal with waste.
In particular, I’m excited about the time when all matter will be recycled, no matter what it is, and replicators will deliver needed food and goods to everyone. It’s not so far-fetched really. The new 3D printers are a small but important step.
Until that happens, though, we all have a moral obligation to be conscious about our consumption and its effect on Earth and all her beings.
What does this have to do with kindness?
Being kind to the planet we live on is also a gift of kindness that we give to our loved ones, ourselves, our descendants, animals, sea creatures, and well, pretty much everything! Taking the big steps toward reducing our impact on our lovely Earth is an awesome idea. I have friends who are growing most of their own food, converting their homes to solar energy, and giving up their cars entirely. I’m not there yet myself, but I aspire to these big-ticket changes.
However, it’s just as important to take the small steps that add up to a huge impact, should we all decide to walk a greener path in our everyday lives. Here are some easy ways to integrate more sustainable practices into your daily life.
Purchase local and organic foods whenever you can. As a mom to two hungry teens, I wish I could shop exclusively at the health food store and farmer’s market. It’s often just too expensive. However, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Choose the veggies and fruits which are best purchased organic. Visit your local farmer’s market when harvest time comes around. Join a food co-op so you can get a deal on bulk items. There are ways to afford enough food for your family and still buy foods that are easier on the ecosystem.
Make your own food more often. You can save money for those yummy organics by not eating out so often, and avoiding processed pre-made meals at the grocery store. Not only are processed foods not all that healthy, they’re often heavily packaged. Buying whole ingredients and then creating meals from them is kinder to our planet, and not only that, homemade food tastes better! If time is an issue, take part of your day off and make large amounts of meals you love, and then freeze them in reusable containers. Voila, meals for the work week!
Compost. A compost pile is easy to tend, will generate terrific soil for your veggie garden or flower boxes, and just think of how much food waste you won’t be putting into the landfill! If you live in an apartment, many cities now offer curbside compost pickup. Or give it to your country-dwelling pals – a friend of mine used to freeze her compost until she came to visit us and could add it to our pile.
Bring your own bags. Really. Keep a stash of reusable shopping bags in your car. Use them. It’s such an easy thing to do. I admit this is a pet peeve of mine. I have an aversion to plastic bags, especially when I see them tangled in tree branches, or hear about how they kill ocean critters. I’m truly horrified by how many people still take home dozens of plastic bags in just one weekend grocery run. It’s so unnecessary! At the very least, recycle the plastic bags at the store where you received them.
Buy less stuff. Retail therapy might help you cope with a rough week, but it can be hard on the planet. Make do with what you have. Buy used items whenever you can. Buying quality items that last a long time is better than getting a bunch of cheap plastic crap that comes from China. If money is an issue, shop at thrift stores. If you don’t usually frequent them, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what cool and useful items you can find there, often at a bargain. Check out Craig’s List for bigger items, like furniture; used doesn’t mean junky. Think outside the retail box.
Recycle. You probably already do, but just in case you haven’t gotten into the habit, I highly recommend it. It’s the present-day version of making sure trash no one wants gets squished down and turned into useful stuff again. It’s innovative, and it’s the best version of a replicator we have at the moment!
Drive less or otherwise reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re in an area where public transportation is widely available, you’re lucky. Take advantage of it. If you can afford a hybrid car, why not invest in one? If you live in a rural area, like I do, then make an effort to carpool and combine a bunch of errands into one trip. Sure, it involves a bit more planning, but doesn’t it feel good to do your part?
When you implement greener practices into your life, do so mindfully and with joy. It might take your family members a while to get the hang of new habits, so don’t freak out if some food scraps end up in the garbage rather than that shiny new compost pail. It might be tempting to get all holier-than-thou, but avoid smugness and lectures. That just sucks all the joy out of living a more sustainable lifestyle.
When you green up your life, do it as a joyful practice, not for reward. Think of it as your means to connect with the Earth in a more tangible way. It might sound strange, but it’s uplifting to foster a spiritual connection with trees and rocks and waterways and bees. The steps you take to reduce your impact on the ecosystem are wonderful ways to share your kindness with the non-human life on our big blue marble. And before you know it, you’ll be installing your first food replicator in your home!
Go green(er), and let your kindness spread far and wide!
|Nikki Starcat Shields is a published author, Mom, Reiki healer, and licensed priestess.
Get your copy of her book “Cultivating Self-Love: Your Path to Wholeness” on Amazon.