It started innocently enough. A simple trip to the library is all. But somehow… that simple trip has turned into a whole new project.
Just what Liz needs… more PROJECTS!
It is amazing how a single turn of events, a chance encounter, a movie, a person, etc. can alter our course so profoundly. In this case it happens to be a book. A simple little book that opened my eyes (though I knew this stuff in the back of my mind-BUUUUUTT feign ignorance is bliss) to a huge problem facing the entire…world.
Most of my posts go over food, family, nutrition and my love of Nutrabio but this post is going to turn the page and take a drastic left turn.
Enter THE BOOK….
Written in 2007 and printed in 2009 this book is obviously not new but the information in it is no less profound. My brief synopsis (because I want you to read the book!!); a man living in the heart of NYC with his small family makes the monumental decision to go “off the grid” for one year.
Convicted pretty much within himself he decides to forgo: electricity, motorized transportation of any kind (including elevators), trash (as in making zero), food not grown locally, disposable-anything, pretty much every modern convenience for 1 year. The book tells of his experiences, failures and successes, how his family coped, grew and finally…thrived. Through his self examination and blunt honesty he makes you laugh, pulls your heart strings, throws you with the statistics and finally (I think this is the best part), INSPIRES you to try and change what you can change in your life to be better for the world around us.
While most of us (or at least me) let ourselves off the hook with the thought of “What can I do? I am ONE person, living in the middle of Oklahoma. Nothing I do makes a REAL difference”. But that philosophy is pretty much squashed like a bug in this book. The writer makes such a excellent points and I nearly hate him! But the thing is, he is so right!
It doesn’t matter what one person does, that is one straw. However, the collective movement of 2 or 3 straws-now there is something. See, even though my efforts in themselves may not change the world in a huge way. What if YOU, reading this awesome blog post, decide to read the book (or not)- but make some changes as welll? Now let’s say 10 people out of 100 do the same. Would that make an impact? MOST DEFINATELY!
Let’s do some math (don’t roll your eyes just yet.. .I already did the math for you).
Just in my small little family of 3 we usually have 3 full 30 gallon bags of trash a week. That is 156 bags of trash a year.(average)
Let’s say those 10 families mentioned above also do 3 bags a week. That is 1,560 bags of trash going in the landfill every year. Just for 10 families!
Let’s look at the population of our small town… According to the 2010 census we have around 10,000 households in our town. So… 3 bags a trash a week per household…52 weeks a year…
How many bags of trash is that?
30,000 trash bags a WEEK going into the landfill.
Do we even want to look at a year?
1,560,000 yearly TRASH going back into the earth…. did I do that math right??? That is….STAGGERING.
Not to mention, how much of it is plastics that aren’t biodegradable or take 1000 years to break down and when they do start to emit toxic chemicals?
Oh.. and the population of our town is sitting right around 24,000 (from 2013 census).
……..I wonder what a city of 1 Million throws away?? ….It is too early for this much math.
I realize my example is overly simplistic and hopefully quite wrong but on the other hand I wonder if I am that far off. I am not even including what goes into the trash from local businesses (mine included) or those living outside of city limits that use private service (me being one of those).
But looking back at the numbers (I took a coffee break), let’s say those ten families I talked about earlier somehow managed to cut their trash in half?
What would that look like?
15 bags a week…52 weeks. The trash collection would be down to 780 bags of trash a year. That is quite a bit!
10,000 households? 780,000 bags of trash a year.
Is that perfect? No. …is it better than 1,560,000?? You better believe it!
Again reread my above disclaimer. This is overly simplistic but in my mind it is no less profound.
And what’s more?
I think it is it TOTALLY DOABLE.
We just have to TRY.
In the book the writer goes into a self assessment of his own character that resonates very strongly with me personally. When asked why he even bothered doing this he realized that he would rather be the person that TRIED than the person that shook off the responsibility of his actions with the decision to NOT try.
Thomas Edison really says it all:
“It’s not the critic who counts; Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit goes to the one who is actually in the arena; Who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; Who knows the great devotions, the great enthusiasms, and spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement ; and, at the worst, if he fails at least he fails while daring greatly; so that his place will never be among those timid and cold souls who know neither victory or defeat.”
The writer (quite purposefully, I am aware) made me question myself. Do I want to be the one that TRIES? …OR the one that says I COULD have tried but I didn’t. You guys know me well enough by now to know the answer.
SO… I started looking around at my life. Where can I make SUSTAINABLE changes to be kinder to my planet. Because this is MY home, this is YOUR home and your CHILDREN’S HOME. …and she is sick. Evident in all of nature: weird weather patterns, earthquakes and toxic rivers are only the tip of the iceberg of the symptoms she is exhibiting.
I can help her… and so can you. But I can’t do it by myself and neither can you. Together, with a neighbor or two…or 10,000 we can do OUR part. We all have a part to play, none more important than another. Just a TOGETHER effort to be better stewards.
I challenge you to look around your home, your life. I won’t tell you to live without electricity or your air conditioner but I am challenging you to think of ways that would WORK for your family on a long term basis to lessen your own carbon footprint.
Will you be perfect (are you human??), no. Will I? Nope… but try I will anyway. I owe it to my family and my son, every future generation that comes after me, my planet and I owe it to myself.
Gray and I sat down together and made a list of things that we feel like we can realistically do. I encourage you to do the same with your kids! Get them involved and make it a family affair! I have found that Gray and I do many of these things together and it gives me a chance to teach him (and myself) about our planet, the importance of trying our best to take care of it and life in general.
Here is our list:
- Pick a spot to pick up litter weekly (we did our neighborhood this week)
- keep reusable shopping bags in the car at all times and use them every time
- this includes produce bags. I have been using reusable bags 80% of the time but I would get fresh veggies and put them in a, guess what? Plastic produce bag provided by the store. I decided to take a few old shirts, cut the sleeves off and tie the bottoms off. Problem solved.
- Stop using paper towels as much as possible (this is mostly on me.. I WAS terrible!)
- I instead starting using my dish towels I already had stuffed in my kitchen drawer-wash and reuse
- Compost my kitchen scraps (I chose the “dig a hole” method. It really doesn’t get easier than this…)
- No more bottled water (we didn’t do this very often but I am terrible when I travel about grabbing bottles.)
- No elevators, opting for the stairs as much as possible-every where we go.
- The one light rule. Especially during the day. Keeping the blinds open for natural light (unless it makes the house hot) and keeping the lights off as much as possible.
- I challenge you to see how much light you DON’T need. I found the less I use lights, the less I find I want or need them.
- Don’t buy anything new (underwear, socks and shoes exceptions). I usually bargain hunt for Gray’s clothes anyway but it will be fun trying to think outside the box with other purchases.
- sort trash to recycle cardboard and paper as much as possible.
- reduce and reuse plastics as much as possible.
- reduce and try to eliminate using disposable flatware, paper plates and individually wrapped anything.
- this is going to be tough. How often do you go somewhere to eat and it is all disposable? Every piece of paper, Styrofoam and plastic cutlery you use in one sitting… multiply it by how ever many people eat there a day, it is horrifying the amount of waste.
- Map out day errands and only make one trip. It is so easy to jump in the car and go into town a few times a day doing things that if I would have just planned better I could have achieved in one swoop trip.
- Example of one way I plan to do better-I am going to try parking at Aldi, walking to Health World and then back to Aldi instead of going both places in two car trips.
- Use earth friendly cleaning products.
- Eat locally grown food as much as possible (so happy the Farmers Market is back in season!)
Like I said, these are simple and easy to do for OUR family. What would be some things you could realistically do? I look back at my list and see a trend that screams, “CREATE LESS TRASH”. That is one of my main goals. I don’t want to trash my planet, my home…and I don’t want to be remembered as someone that did.
I want to be remembered as someone who TRIED. What about you?
For Our Planets Health,