How can I, as an individual, contribute towards the betterment of our world? In pondering this idea, I have formulated the following tips, which I thought I would share so that YOU can join in on the fun too. It is not unusual for people to grapple with the idea that their sole actions cannot make a difference, so what is the point of doing anything; it won't accomplish anything after all. However, that form of thinking in and of itself is heavily flawed. What can be accomplished by a single individual's efforts? A lot actually.
Think of all of the ordinary people who became heroes after having effectuated change, thanks to their courage to step up to the plate and do what they felt was right; to act according to their principles and values in order to improve the world, one selfless and peaceful fight at a time. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks come to mind. They led a movement towards equity and civil rights by taking a stand. Mother Theresa devoted her life towards lending a hand to the impoverished and the less fortunate. There are countless others who, because they resisted the urge to succumb to complacency and inactivity, have made a positive difference in the world.
With the intent to benefit the environment in which we live, to make the world a cleaner, less hazardous place for its inhabitants, and to salvage the world for future generations, I propose that we each make a contribution now, however small that contribution may seem. Nobody's individual effort can be brushed aside and rendered insignificant, because ultimately, it has a cumulative, beneficial effect on us all.
* Recycle, recycle, recycle: Paper, glass bottles, plastic; anything with the recycle insigna at the bottom of the container or for that matter, any item that obviously belongs in the recycling bin (ie. newspaper or any other paper). Before you throw any item in the trash can, take a moment to consider whether or not it belongs there. Allow common sense to dictate. Don't just mindlessly throw non-confidential papers in the trash. In the workplace, if there is no accessible recycling bin, request that one be put into place. The squeaky machine gets the oil, after all. If you have recyclable material that cannot be discarded in a location where there is no recycling bin nearby, hold onto it and recycle it once you return home or find one elsewhere.
* Use less plastic: Rather than using plastic water bottles or food storage containers, choose glass. Heating food in plastic bowls enables BPA and phthalates -- unsafe chemicals -- to leach into your food. I'm no scientist so I cannot tell you the likelihood that these chemicals will transfer to your food, but why take the risk? The same can be said for drinking out of plastic cups or water bottles.
* Go fragrance-free, permanently: Fragrance is in most cosmetic and cleaning products; think: shampoos, detergents, soaps, perfume. Look at the ingredient list when making your purchases. Avoid buying anything containing 'fragrance,' 'parfum,' 'perfume,' or any other variation of the term fragrance. Fragrance contains neurotoxins and carcinogens, which pollute both the air we breathe and the vessel that keeps us alive (ie. our body). It is not regulated as much as one might assume, and in fact, little research goes into retailers to determine the impact fragrance has on our health. Fragrance negatively impacts the central nervous system, in effect triggering asthma, headaches, nausea, breast cancer, and myriad other health problems. Fragrance is particularly harmful to those who suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity, a health predicament most would not otherwise suffer if products containing fragrance were not on the market in the first place. If you like scents, do yourself and the rest of society a favor, crush some orange peels or lemons, buy some fresh flowers, or sprinkle some herbs into the palm of your hand (e.g. cloves, mint, cinnamon) and take a whiff of those.
* Don't litter: Enough said.
* Use less water: Minimize your shower time. Aim for 5-7 minutes total. If that seems too short, cut down your total shower time by 1-2 minutes initially and see if you can decrease the length of time by 30 seconds to 2 minutes each week until you reach the range of 5-7 minutes total. Any decrease in shower time is better than nothing. Be mindful of how much water you use for any and all other purposes, and attempt to scale back where possible. Remember that water is one of the prime resources to us mortals, and without it, we would not be able to survive. Keep that in mind the next time you accidentally leave the faucet running.
* Conserve energy: When you leave a room and don't intend to return for at least 15 minutes, turn off any electronics (television, stereo) as well as the lights, so as to save electricity.
* Car pool, use public transportation, bike, or walk instead of driving everywhere.