Have you ever noticed how Earth Day is a New Year’s Eve of sorts? You know, complete with the inspiration to do good things and make changes, to become a better person and steward for the planet. Preparations, big or small, manifest in the excitement and good intentions of getting involved. Conversations get started with friends and family and you find your support system, those like-minded individuals who are just as eager as you are to become a part of something big. Then the day comes to implement those changes and suddenly you decide you just might not be ready for it all.
Are you really ready to ride your bicycle to work everyday?
Can your family’s finances survive the extra spending at the grocery store for quality food, even if it means having less of it?
Do you have the time or the know-how to maintain a backyard garden?
I hear you. Because, until recently, my answer to all of the above was NO.
Here are the changes I have made in the last year:
- I turn off the water when I’m brushing my teeth. It’s a habit now.
- Because I am mostly sitting in front of a computer, I wear my jeans twice before washing. Also, I re-use towels. This has cut my laundry down by about 2 loads per week.
- I hang dry some clothing…but not my jeans because I really, really hate the crispy feeling they get when they’re put out to dry on the line.
- I buy organic or locally produced vegetables and fruit. I can’t afford to do much more than that.
- I purchase my eggs from a nice old couple who live down the road from me. Their chickens cluck around happily in the front yard.
- I have a backyard garden. It probably wouldn’t exist, though, if I didn’t have the time to learn and fail and try again.
- I started volunteering at the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, a nearby “forever” home devoted to the care and maintenance of endangered and neglected big cats.
- After my finals are over, I plan to become involved with the Arlington Community Garden by helping to grow and maintain a vegetable garden that will eventually be harvested for local food pantries. I expect to learn a lot during this process about gardening and my community. I’m really, really excited about this!
It’s strange to say this, but I really don’t know if these are changes I would have been able to make and/or stick to if I hadn’t lost my job. I needed something to keep me busy and I wanted to learn more about the environment. It just so happens that I have the time to take what I’ve learned and implement some changes in my life. I’ve never participated in a beach clean-up or tabled an event at an Earth Day celebration or picketed at a public rally against animal cruelty when the circus came to town. I have done other things, though. I’ve contributed in my own ways and I was surprised by how easily those changes became habits.
Changes don’t have to be monumental. Just know that when you become one of the tens of thousands (or even millions) of people who make that same small change, the effect is monumental. It all matters.