How you make a difference
If the sun is shining down on your world today you are empowered. Take stock of some of the hundreds of choices you are given each day to choose a better world.
One piece of advice I have found useful is from Dr. Jane Goodall. “What you do makes a difference, you just have to decide what difference you wish to make.”
Morning rituals made righteously
Less waste means less guilt and gives you more say in what happens to the world you live in. Make your morning coffee with the most efficient ways of adding coffee bean flavor to water. This means you choose an efficient, not wasteful, device. You use coffee that supports the sustainability of both rain forest and distant jobs and has the least amount of disposable packaging. Use a reusable coffee filter, or add the used ones for compost. If you must engage a daily barista, get a commuter (reusable) cup.
Just coffee alone will provide you with dozens of decisions to make. Rather than be exhausted by it, stay on course to just make each choice a positive for you.
You have already heard that working from home, or sharing transport reduces green house gases and pollution. But add to that if you must drive, just drive less. Combine errands. Share. When you stop, turn off the engine. Walk or bike, and get take out in person rather than in an idling car. When you have sat in parking lots next to an air-fouling vehicle, do you notice it? If so, you know that the extra emissions exhaust isn’t nice for anyone, so please turn off your car engine when in park, in lines, or whenever possible.
I am living in a rural area right now. Giant lawns and open fields are the norm. But in those places where there are trees, shade, shrubbery and flowers the space is far more pleasant. Think of an empty, sterile lawn as what it is: devoid of humming life, empty of color.
Instead of a lawn, choose a wildlife attracting natural scape filled with chirping birds, butterflies and buzzing bees. If you have landscaping that requires tons of attention, you are not in balance with the place. Find local flora that will thrive there, or xeriscape the space for a low maintenance lifestyle.
Pesticides, herbicides, and all that extra work is just not worth the hours of your life you must sacrifice to use them. And, once you know the externalized costs — the true cost of staying in that vicious circle of depleting soils and policing pests — you will want to choose the more life-promoting path.
Not only is choosing ‘no lawn option’ easier on all other life, it is easier on you. Mowing, fertilizing, weeding, and watering take time, money, effort, and yield very little joy. But attracting pollinators, birds and more add much more than just weekend warrior weariness. You can feel empowered knowing that in a time where insects and other creatures need our help, you are providing habitat both pleasing and powerful.
Consumed by consumption
Jane Goodall also fears for the state of the world when our apathy dooms our sons and daughters to a hotter, miserable fate.
When I look around in some places, I notice just such apathy, but getting annoyed does nothing whereas making better choices centers my own self-awareness and models for a kinder world.
I notice people can still be very blasé about the world we need to preserve:
They buy bottled water, or soda, as if there is no water crisis, plastic crisis, or nutrition crisis
They take plastic shopping bags with complete indifference.
They buy “fast fashion” with no notice of the true cost.
They idle their cars in the grocery parking lot.
They use and discard plastic flatware, cups, bowls, straws, and so much more.
They eat meat without regard to cruelty, pollution, nutrition, or pandemics
In short, people in the modern world do not appear cognizant of the choices they have and the choices they make.
This has been slow to change. Yet, drastic times alter our behaviors. People somehow have managed to change daily habits, almost overnight, due to COVID–19.
This is proof of our resilience, and ability to adapt.
And as more and more people become aware of what they do, they become aware of how they can do better.
More importantly, werealize that the power to improve our world is in our hands.
Don’t be consumed by consumption, turn your trashy life to classy, instead.
Once you begin to model better behavior, you won’t feel smug superiority (which indicates you are doing it wrong) but you may feel a greater sense of being proud to make a difference, for the greater world, as well as for your tiny portion of it.
Are we going to resolve, or even reverse, climate change? No, not right away. We neglected our power for far too long.
But as human beings, we are programmed to belong. People will do what becomes the socially acceptable right thing to do, and this means reclaiming the power we once had as a species in our belonging to each other’s tribe, and to our Earth.
Evolving foodways, are just one example. Pandemic policies mean that we are no longer crowding into restaurants and bars, but we are making time at home to really explore baking, gardening, sit down real meals with family, and taking time to put together quality dining.
The old way of eating often meant fast food and faster trash. We too often chose convenience and trashiness over deliberate, delicious, and classier manners.
But consider the difference of taking your time with quality dishes and with real cloth napkins.
Meals can actually become more civilized, and sophisticated, again.
If we look at Earth lovingly, we can see ways to thrive.
We can come to see life itself, not as something to consume, but as a time and place to share the best of all we can be.
Previously published on Medium.com.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: National Cancer Institute on Unsplash