Have you ever felt a sense of satisfaction placing a stack of newspapers in the recycle bin? Or walking somewhere nearby instead of driving? Or bringing reusable bags to the store? It’s great to be green!
But then, you take a step back and see the massive amount of paper waste, the bumper-to-bumper traffic and the single-use plastics all around you. It’s easy to feel hopeless and helpless. What will your efforts do to change the world, when it seems like they’re being undone everywhere you look?
Don’t despair! Although it’s hard to believe, personal daily choices can make an impact in our neighborhoods, communities and, little by little, the world. Here are a few ways to make your environmental impact go beyond your front door.
People want to do right by the planet. But our fast-paced lifestyles, combined with the convenience that many non-eco-friendly products and activities offer, can make it hard to do the environmentally responsible thing.
So, help your family, friends and neighbors get started on their green journeys. For birthdays or holidays, give eco-friendly gifts like reusable water bottles, stainless steel straws or cloth grocery bags. Or, if your county offers free bins for recycling service, grab a few extra for your neighbors who don’t seem to be recycling yet.
Don’t keep your green activities to yourself — spread the word about the ways you’re trying to make a difference. You might just inspire others.
Got a nosy neighbor? Make them your environmental ally! Tell them about the electric vehicle you’ve got your eye on, show them your backyard compost pile or ask for their help organizing volunteers for a park cleanup. Once the busybody has the scoop, it won’t be long before others start showing interest.
The most effective way to ensure a brighter future just may be helping the youngest generation realize how important it is to develop an environmental mindset. Children understand and embrace the concept of treating the planet kindly but don’t yet have to deal with adult worries like busy schedules and monetary constraints.
It’s estimated that Gen Z (born 1996 to 2015) will make up about 40% of the workforce in 2040. As the ones who will have to either get the planet back on track or directly deal with the consequences, today’s youth have the most incentive to start making drastic changes immediately.
Loren Eiseley’s classic parable of The Star Thrower is a powerful reminder that small efforts by each of us can add up to make a big impact. It goes like this:
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was a boy, and he was not dancing at all.
The boy was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?" The boy paused, looked up, and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the boy replied, "The sun is up, and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die." Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
At this, the boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "I made a difference to that one!"
If there’s anything that the digital age has taught us, it’s that we’re more connected than ever. Your green-living decisions can create a ripple effect among friends, neighbors and your community, leading to widespread change over time. So, never give up — the planet is worth the effort.
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