Baby Steps for Going Green
I hesitated to write this article. This post is not in my usual content category, but I’ve had several conversations on social media recently that led me to this post. The general consensus was that many people understand that we have a problem and can’t continue treating our planet this way, and they WANT to help. But they have no idea where to start. Though I live in a beautiful, green state, being environmentally conscious isn’t exactly easy to navigate around here. Most areas have no home recycling programs, public transportation options are limited, and it’s almost impossible to walk or bike except in select parts of the city. To top it off, most of the folks I talked to had never been taught what can harm our planet and what we can do to combat that.
Meanwhile, I grew up with my nose in kid’s science magazines that were, thankfully, very vocal on the topic of caring for the planet, with excellent articles and graphics on why it is important. I was also very close to my grandfather of mainly Native American descent. I spent most of my childhood summers with my grandfather, climbing trees, playing in the lake, and learning how to compost and care for the plants in his garden. I used to call them my "Indian Summers." Eventually, I graduated to reading Scientific American (and Discover, National Geographic, etc). In high school, I had opportunities to work alongside biologists who specialized in environmental damage. Lucky for me, my undergrad institution was big on environmental conservation, both from the student-led and professional perspective. So while I’m certainly no expert, I’m rarely surprised by the global catastrophes I see on the news. Sad? Yes, devastated. Surprised? Nope, because I’ve been keeping up for as long as I can remember (and consequently have spent a lot of time trying to persuade skeptics that we are in some hot water...literally).
So, if you’re new to all this, and you want to know what you can do to help, keep reading. I’m just including some basic first steps here, starting with step one: GET OUTSIDE MORE. I firmly believe we would all care a bit more if we spend more time outdoors appreciating the beautiful planet we live on.
By no means is this an exhaustive list--but I don’t want to overwhelm you. But the way I see it, the ripple effect is the smartest way we (regular people) can help make a difference. For example, if 100 people read this article, and 100 people stop throwing away 1 plastic cup/bottle per year, then in one year, that’s 36,500 fewer items destroying our beautiful planet, (i.e. getting swallowed by whales, or taking over 1000 years to break down in a landfill, only to seep into the ground and continue contaminating our soil and water). Unfortunately, we’ve done irreparable damage to our planet. But if we all start taking baby steps, building on those, and pushing for change, we might have a chance. I recommend choosing one or two of these steps and starting small. Make them daily habits. In a few weeks, add another step. I tried to choose things that are simple and easy to implement in an “on-the-go” lifestyle, because I know we’re all busy--nothing listed below requires a major lifestyle change li