First, I Drink the Coffee. Then, I Save the World.
I have a vision for a world in which we’re all trying to keep up with the Joneses, and the Joneses are the most eco-friendly family on the planet
I’m not exactly a morning person. I’d like to at least wake up fully before tackling the day or having a conversation. But every morning after coffee, I save the world.
I don’t wear a superhero costume. What I do doesn’t require Batman’s wealth or Wonder Woman’s power. News crews won’t show up to broadcast my accomplishments as breaking news. I won’t receive an award or the key to the city. Yet, I'm saving the world just the same.
I believe that every single person can make an enormous difference. We make that difference either through our active choices or our inactive indifference, but we have an impact all the same. Even our smallest actions can create significant change, but so often, we dismiss the power of what little we can do.
I’m choosing to save the planet.
How I do this may not seem extraordinary to you. I’m not trying to be extraordinary. In fact, I’m hoping for a cultural shift in which what I do is the bare minimum. I truly believe in the philosophy of reducing, reusing, and recycling. I’ve been evaluating what my small household can do as a family of three, and there are actually quite a few things we do that have an environmental impact.
Here are just a few:
We recycle everything that’s possible to recycle.
Most packaging that comes into a household is actually recyclable. It’s not just canned goods and cardboard boxes. Milk cartons, glass jars, and so many other items contain the recycling symbol. In my house, we have more recycling that goes out each week than trash.
We compost when we can.
I don’t know much about composting, but I don’t toss eggshells, coffee grounds, or banana peels in the trash. I compost that for a tiny garden I keep.
We choose earth-friendly labels.
Eco-friendly. Non-toxic. Sustainable. Vegan. Cruelty-free. Fairtrade. Organic. These labels have meaning. I’ve been trying to be a more environmentally conscious consumer, choosing products that are ethically sourced and non-toxic. It sometimes costs more, but it matters.
We think about sustainability.
I consider sustainability in my home. I utilize reusable sandwich and snack bags, stainless steel straws, and dryer balls to start. I think about our plastic consumption and where we can reduce our reliance on it. I look for ways to reduce waste, and I try to be conscious of my personal environmental impact. Even when I'm drinking my coffee, I'm doing so out of a reusable cup. If I have to get a disposable one, I make sure it's one I can recycle.
We do our part.
When walking, I often pick up litter. I care about my community. I pick up litter because the responsibility for caring for this planet is a shared one, and even if I didn’t make the mess, I have to live on this Earth, too. I’d like for it to be a cleaner planet.
We shop local.
It’s important to support local businesses, and this also has a great environmental impact. This can include shopping local farmer’s markets or participating in co-ops. It can even mean participating in agri-tourism by attending local events or taking advertised tours.
We plant a garden.
Growing our own food can be a great way to be eco-friendly while also providing us with organic, fresh produce. If we don’t have space for a garden, we can look into starting a community garden or participating in one that’s already established. This year, I planted more flowers than fruits and vegetables, but I did make sure to choose plants that attract bird, bee, and butterfly populations. In fact, I planted extra wildflowers for just that purpose.
We walk and reduce our carbon footprint.
This is an easy one in a community like mine, but it might be less so in others. We walk everywhere we can, choosing to skip using the car (and its harmful emissions) when possible. Biking is also an eco-friendly choice.
We think in terms of conservation.
We turn out lights, unplug appliances, and are careful with the water we use. We consider conservation in what we do. We understand that the impact may seem minor, but it goes back to considering that we are a small part of a bigger picture.
I’m paying attention to the politicians who represent my interests--or don’t. I’m not just talking the talk; I’m voting the vote. I’m not going to endorse candidates whose policies are detrimental to the environment. I pay attention, regularly contact my representatives, and stay involved. It matters. They have to keep tallies of the calls, and we should all participate to make sure that they actually vote in a way that represents us.
It’s a family effort.
When I say “we,” it’s not the royal "we". I mean that my children also know which items are recyclable and which are not. They’ll also pick up garbage to throw away when we see it. Being conscious of how we live is an important value for us, and I hope I can raise them to have a positive impact on the environment.
I have a vision for a world in which we’re all trying to keep up with the Joneses, and the Joneses are the most eco-friendly family on the planet. I want us to try to put out more recycling than our neighbors while sipping our fair trade organic coffee and wearing sustainably made clothing. I want us to compare our cars based on eco-friendly factors rather than price tags and flash. I’d love a world that cared so much about protecting the planet that we leave it for the next generation better than we found it.
It’s a pretty dream, one with a lot of scenic views. Think of the possibilities: rooftop gardens, community gardens, and clean energy. It’s a world where we care about how our food is grown and what goes into it, and we try really hard to support local agriculture. In this world, we’re healthier, and there’s more food to go around. We’re working together for a better future but also for a better present.
You say it’s a pipe dream. I say it’s possible. But it’s only possible if I do it, even if I am the only one to start. It becomes possible when you decide to start, too, and you encourage someone else to do the same. It begins with each person who decides that they can’t do everything, but they can do what they can. It’s evaluating our priorities and deciding where we’ll get started, and we don’t have to limit it to one area.
We can protect the environment and human rights at the same time. It’s all in a day’s work, and the only limits on what is possible are often the ones we put on ourselves. Isn’t there a quote out there that says if we can conceive it and believe it, we can achieve it? That’s the power of one person in this world.
So drink your coffee. Then go out and save the world.
About the Creator
Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned author. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, NewsBreak, Your Tango, and The Good Men Project. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and 3 volumes of poetry.
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