Warning: Serious post, lacking in wittiness, ahead!
I play around on a site called Swap-bot, where people sign up for different swaps and send each other stuff via snail mail - a real treat in this electronic age, and an interesting community to be part of. Swaps can be for anything from postcards and letters to yarn and hand-crafted pieces of art. It's also a great creative outlet! Someone hosted one a little while ago, that I'm doing, based on the Ghandi quote about "being the change you want to see in the world." Each participant chooses one thing they want to see changed in the world, and finds some small ways they can work toward making that change in their own lives. Over a 6-week period, we have to report weekly to our partners on our progress. The idea is that we have both encouragement and accountabililty at the same time. We get to be on both sides, too - as the partner who also encourages and supports someone else. And it's a great way to see just how effective "baby steps" can be, how quickly they can add up to something significant.
I've been doing it for a couple of weeks now, and it's great. I chose to explore how I could be more conscious of my impact on the environment. I know that those of you who know me well might be scratching your heads: But she's ALREADY a dang eco-wienie!
Thing is, I'm not. I try, and I succeed sometimes and I fail miserably sometimes, and I keep getting up and trying again. And yes, that counts for something. But the fact is, this fragile, lovely planet of ours is in desperate straits. And I'm not doing EVERYTHING I can. And when it comes to the idea of all hell breaking loose thanks to global warming, I find myself thinking in matter-of-fact terms of "when," not "if." And I live in one of the societies most responsible for that. So how can I not try to tweak every last one of my own choices, to do what I can to minimize that? Or at least be able to say someday that I did do everything I could?
Yes, it's expensive to eat organic food, to use natural cleaners, to wear natural fibres. It will be a lot more expensive not to, in the not-so-long run. But how do I address the changes I can/need to make, without becoming totally overwhelmed, and hiding under my bed for the rest of my life? Baby steps, of course. One thing at a time. Doing things like taking part in this swap.
I decided that I would participate by setting two or three small goals for myself every week. Every weekend, I report on my progress to my partner, as well as set goals for the next week. Today, when I was emailing her, I decided that I wanted to post them here, as well. For more encouragement, for more accountability. And at the same time, to ask you how you try to be "green" - I'm always looking for new ideas! - and to challenge you - what small steps can you take to do more?
So far, my goals set (and met!) for the last two weeks are as follows:
* Get a nightlight for the bathroom, instead of leaving the light on all night. - check!
* Set up a recycling box in my classroom, and actively encourage students to use it - check!
* If I go get a coffee while I'm at work - take my own mug instead of getting a paper cup - check!
* Look into prices for a clothes horse, so we can dry clothes outside in good weather - check! (About $25, next time we go to IKEA - but there's no way we're making a separate trip just for one!)
* Start replacing household cleaners with environmentally-friendly products - check!
Also, we've been taking the bus more on weekends and evenings, instead of driving. (We won't talk about the fact that last night was a Canucks' play-off game so there was no parking downtown anyway!)
So. The goals I'm setting for myself for the next week:
1) Research a composter - I have a vague idea that the city provides them, but no more info than that. Find out.
2) Water use - monitor ours, see what we can do to cut back. We try not to be wasteful, but I also know there are lots of little ways that we could improve.
3) Garbage bags - I know I saw some biodegradable ones at a Zellers way out in the 'burbs...there's another Zellers much closer to us, on the SkyTrain line. Go out there one day this week and see if I can find more.
4) Turn the frickin' lights off! The nightlight's great in the bathroom, and we both prefer it immensely - much less harsh on the eyes if we get up in the dark. But we have a bad habit of leaving a lot of lights on when we're home. Must stop that!
Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favourite authors ever. She wrote a book of essays a few years ago, Small Wonder. It's wonderful, and totally relevant to our lives as inhabitants of this planet. Go read it!
So...what are YOU gonna do this week?