First, let’s face the facts. Climate scientists across the globe agree that Mother Earth is in real trouble. Recent talks in Paris on climate change revealed just how fraught this issue is, with protests popping up and different groups trying to control the conversation. Species both wild and domestic are undergoing rapid extinction, the ocean levels are rising, and the planet is getting warmer.
If you are like most moms in the world, these thoughts probably keep you up at night. We want what people all over the world throughout history have always wanted: to leave our children with a quality of life better than ours. Faced with these scary facts, we are often left with feelings of helplessness. However, this isn’t the end of the conversation. As consumers and parents, our job is to educate our families and make the kind of small changes that influence bigger changes.
It’s more important now than ever that we face these issues and set our children on a better path. We can encourage greener habits that will aid our own health, and the health of the globe. April 22 is Earth Day, and here are some ways to give thanks to this beautiful planet that supports us.
1. Eat Vegetarian.
Food educator Michael Pollan says that if American families added three vegetarian meals a week into their routine, we could cut down on top soil pollution, improve our health, and feed more people for less cost . Thanks to the slow food movement, there are zillions of fantastic recipes out there sans-meat, and if you can get your veggies locally grown, you are also
supporting bio-diversity and small farms.
2. Buy Bulk.
While recycling was a game changer in the 80s, it has not solved the problem of less waste. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery or farmer’s market, buy your dry goods from bulk where you can reuse your containers, and avoid processed and packaged food. The convenience
doesn’t outweigh the consequences.
3. Get on the Bike, Carpool, Take Public Transit.
Our carbon footprint is obviously one of the bigger challenges we need to overcome globally as the population continues to boom. If you can ride a bike or walk to work, you solve several problems at once: fossil fuel, parking, space, noise, and your get your exercise! Alternately, you can team up with neighbors to share rides, or take the train or the bus. Even a couple days a week makes a profound
impact over the course of a year.
4. Save Water.
It really doesn’t matter if you are in California where there is a serious drought, or on the East Coast where it is snowing. Clean water is a global problem. Use a small bowl of soapy water when doing the dishes,rather than running the tap or filling the whole sink. Wash big loads of laundry and buy water and energy efficient appliances whenever possible. Put a bucket in the shower and collect the run-off as the water gets warm. You can then use that water for houseplants or in the garden. Some more food for thought on water: bottled water is incredibly wasteful; in fact, it takes three times the amount of water to produce just one bottle of water. Even more curiously, bottle water is not as carefully regulated as most city water, so pick up a reusable bottle and use filtered tap .
5. Plant Food and Trees.
Every little bit helps with green things, so even if you have a window box, plant some herbs to spice up your cooking and save a little money. Many cities now have tree-planting incentives because they keep houses cool in the summer. Do your part to re-green.
6. Park Clean Up.
State parks regularly have volunteer-based clean-up projects to help maintain local nature. This is a great opportunity to get your team at home and work in on a civic project with visibly obvious results.
7. Go Paperless. Save yourself time, waste, and the visual chaos of the mail.
If you haven’t already, convert your bills and periodicals to digital. There are also a few non-profit organizations that will stop businesses from sending
you ads in the mail.
We are all busy in our own lives, but this is the moment where we need to draw back and evaluate some of our practices to better serve our children’s future. Earth Day signifies this need, and so it represents a powerful opportunity to inspire change. The mothers of the world must unite and leverage our new power in business to aid progress. We owe it to our families, and ourselves.