Doing Our Part: Where to Begin

If the fight for environmental preservation feels overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. Too often in the face of heartbreaking news about plastic waste accumulating in our oceans, dangerous shifts in global weather patterns and toxic carbon emissions, our reaction is to look away. After all, we have enough on our minds in our everyday lives - making it to work on time, meeting deadlines, picking up kids, feeding ourselves, taking care of sick relatives, etc. - and little room to concern ourselves with issues on which we as individuals can make little impact.

Whenever I start to feel this way (and because I’m a bit of a nerd) I like to think about Gandalf’s response to Frodo in The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring when Frodo wishes he didn’t know so much evil in his lifetime:

“So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

In other words, we may not get to choose the state of the world we are born into, but we do get to choose whether to take action or not. And this, to me, is the good news! This is something within our control. Every day, every one of us can do something small to make a difference. After all, it’s far better for ALL of us to do just a little better, than for a few of us to do everything perfect.

If you don’t know where to start, try one of our Well Regarded recommendations! Start by committing to one small change for 30 days. If it goes well, add another. The best part? When people witness you taking these small steps, they may feel inspired to do the same, creating a ripple effect that extends well beyond you. See? We really can make a difference if we do this together :). Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Invest in reusable water bottles and coffee/tea cups for your daily beverage consumption. I have a water bottle from Simple Modern, and love their variety of colors and patterns - and their commitment to sustainability and people over profits! They also have beautiful and reusable coffee cups, tumblers, wine glasses, food containers and more. If you’re as committed to your daily java as me, however, you might shell out for an Ember® Travel Mug - temperature-control smart mug that syncs to your phone and let’s you know when it’s reached the ideal temp!

  2. Learn to sip sans plastic straws. It’s all the rage in California! Just politely refuse next time you’re offered one with your iced coffee, glass of water, green juice, smoothie, strawberry daiquiri…you get the idea.

  3. Pick up garbage while you walk the dog. I knoooow it’s not the most glamorous, but you will get plenty of thank-yous from elderly neighbors (who assure you they would help if they were a bit more limber - points for feeling young and spry!). I use it as a chance to sprinkle some squats into my daily cardio. Just remember to wear gloves and bring a bag to collect the rubbish.

  4. When possible, choose recyclable glass or metal over plastic packaging. Most condiments and spices are available in glass packaging and many natural beauty brands offer alternative packaging solutions.

  5. Use a reusable shopping bag for groceries, drug-store runs, the farmer’s market, etc. Not hard to come by these days as this might be the OG of eco-conscious life-hacking.