Category Archives: Actions

Day 82: What if today was your last day?

(Disclaimer: I am in perfect health. I was asked this question by a friend when we were talking about anxiety and how we always make plans for the future, but not always ‘live’  in the present. )

What if today was your last day on Earth?

Are you happy with the way you led your life up to now?

Were you a good person? Did you value what was important? Did you make good decisions with what you had available?

Did you put off “being good” to the future, for when you had more time, money, or experience?

What did you leave behind? Destruction and contempt – or love and growth?

How will people remember you? As someone who complained, chased down their dreams at the expense of others, never had time to think about “love” or “Earth” or what is “good” – or someone that always had a helping hand and heart, and built something that helps people on their own path, or made the world a little better place?

Will you have made the world a better place when you leave the world? Most of us would answer yes, right?

But would that answer change if you were leaving the world today?

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So many good things in this photograph by Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, NASA: The Milky Way, the view of it from space, and a lightning strike on Earth. Check out: https://images.nasa.gov/#/details-iss044e045215.html

I’m still a student, so most of my daydreams feature myself getting my dream job, my dream house, kids, and a sense of having a purpose in life. I can’t wait to gradaute and “start living life”. Little did I know how much I was putting off “living life” until someone asked me: Yeah, but what if you died today? What then?

My answer scared me. I’m so busy wishing and wanting things for the future – that I’m not too concerned about what I’m doing now. 

A lot of us – maybe most of us – put important things off to the future. I’m not talking about buying stuff or having things – I’m talking about having the chance to be a better person, a world citizen, and someone who’s interested in saving the Earth. Who never thought “Yeah, eating less meat sounds great, but I’ll do it in the future when I have more time or money” or “I can’t deal with being a more active citizen now, I have work to do!”.  We don’t live each day as if it were an opportunity to do our very best. We don’t use all the time we could to be useful citizens and construct meaningful, lasting relationships. We’re mostly worried with material matters – and that’s mostly ok, because we need material things – but we leave the most important out of our minds because we’re so busy worrying.

I’m a student, so I’m working and studying most of my time. I don’t have that many resources or time, which are usually the two things one needs to do “something big”. But maybe I don’t need to do “something big” to make my existence worthwhile, and I don’t need to wait until I have my dream job, house, or family to do it, either. If I used every opportunity of every single day to be good, whether it was at school, at my temporary job, or with my friends and family, I’d be making a whole lot of difference that I’d like to see. On top of that, if I spent all the extra time and resources I had, even something small like ten minutes a day or a dollar a week on doing something for the Earth – I think I would feel very accomplished and satisfied with the way I was leading my life.

When it comes to action, we need to focus more on the present. It’s not your future actions that count – it’s what you do now, with what you already have. Are you spending too much time worrying about things that don’t really matter? How can you focus more on living your life today?

One strategy is to draw a picture of your brain and make bubbles in it that represent what you usually think about. The bigger the bubble, the more you think about it.

Then, draw another picture of your brain and draw the bubbles with the sizes you would like to have in them.

Next, make that second picture a reality – start thinking more about the bubbles you would like to be bigger, and pay less attention to the bubbles you want to be smaller. Changing the way you think is the first step to changing the way you act.

I made Earth-saving one of the bigger bubbles in my brain drawing. How about you?

“A man is what a man thinks about all day long.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Day 75: Prioritize what’s important

As busy human beings, we tend to stress and worry about everything. We’re juggling a lot – living life, working, dealing with people, ourselves, and maybe even saving the world. We spend a lot of time worrying about problems that don’t need to be worried about and making stress the spotlight of our attention. Sometimes, it’s good to worry about problems as you try to come up with possible solutions. Other times, not so much. How do you know when you’re overdoing it?

Simple: ask yourself what’s important. What’s your priority for today, this week, your life? Is that what you’re thinking about most of the time? And if you’re thinking about something else most of the time – are those issues really worth thinking about?

For me, Earth-saving is one of my life goals, and the reason I started this blog was because I realized I wasn’t focusing that much on it – even though I consider it to be the most important aspect of my life. I tend to stress too much about the “little things” – the things I do wrong and wished I could go back in time and fix, how I wish people/life would treat me differently, how I wish I had more resources or a different life style. But none of those things define my life. What I do with my life, defines my life.

Now that I’m refocused on Planet Earth, I realize that writing every day might be too much of a burden and not as of much use. Though I love writing and sharing, other Earth-saving activities such as reading books, news, watching documentaries, brainstorming ideas to reduce my ecological footprint and writing lesson plans are equally as important. Now it’s time to prioritize what’s important, and actually doing more than just saying. And when I do sit down to write, hopefully it will be more qualitative than quantitative.

So here’s my thought – all of our actions start from the mind. If we’re not thinking that much about saving the world, chances are you’re not going to act on it that much, either. If we recognize what’s not that important in our lives and stress less about them, and at the same time make other, bigger life goals our priorities, we have a better chance at achieving those goals.

For Earth-saving, that means worrying less about daily mishaps and never pushing the Earth to the backburner. The question you should ask yourself is: is this issue really so important that it’s taking up more time than saving the world?!

If the answer is yes, maybe you need to spend more time outdoors.

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Wolf in Yellowstone Park. Source: National Park Service

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 68: Reduce your food scraps

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Drying dates in Egpyt. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Being ecological is sometimes synonymous with being economic. Turning off appliances when you’re not using them, using less water and heat, and walking instead of driving are all actions that favor both your wallet and the environment. Finding a use for food scraps is one of those cases where you can cut corners on spending and also reduce your total waste.  Continue reading

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Day 67: No Impact Man

 

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Can you imagine what life would be like if you lived it so that none of your actions had an impact on the environment? It would have to be pretty crazy, right? Well, wonder no longer – someone’s tried that. No Impact Man is a book + movie about a guy who decided to live off the grid and tailor all of his actions so that he didn’t leave an impact on the environment. Not only did he try this experiment for a year – but he did it with his wife and toddler, in the middle of New York City.

No Impact Man is a hilarious story that has eco-lessons for all of us. It takes a crazy story like Colin’s to capture our attention and realize that a lot that has to do with sustainability is actually within our reach: like buying local food, commuting by bike (or skateboard?) and washing your clothes in the tub. It also shows the perspective of an Earth-savior battling through the 21st century (Colin) and the perspective of someone who’s not all that crazy and just wants to go through the motions of life without harming the environment too much in the process (Colin’s wife). Part of the reason I love this book so much is because of it shows the dynamics of Earth-saving between people, social interactions, media, and family.

This true story is certainly inspiring and encouraging to everyone who is crazy enough to think they can change the world. It’s available in book format (Colin’s perspective) or in a documentary (shows everyone’s perspective and interviews). Both are worth taking a look at in my opinion because they show different mentalities and philosophies. I’d love to have the chance to see what life would be like if no one had an impact on the environment, and Colin’s experiment shows us just how real (or not, I’m not spoiling the end!) that can be. It’s a must-read for Earth-saviors and for those who are interested in a good, true, and somewhat moralizing story.

 

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Day 62: Plan ahead

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An eroded iceberg in Greenland. If all the ice in Greenland melted, the oceans would rise by seven meters. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

A lot of the world’s problems came to be because…well…people didn’t plan ahead. Continue reading

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Day 60: Use your local library!

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Who here doesn’t love the idea of owning a personal library? Having a book collection is a symbol of how much knowledge you have, how “wordly” you are, or how much effort you put into understanding the world. There’s something about owning books that makes all that knowledge yours.

But in reality, how many times will you use a book? Maybe once, twice? (Sometimes not at all!) Once you’ve read a book, do you really need to keep that book? Isn’t the knowledge inside it more important?

That’s my understanding as I progress towards having less books and leaning more on my local library. I don’t need to have fresh, new, smelling-like-it-just-came-from-the-printer books. I need what’s inside them. That’s why I believe that having book collections is a thing of the past and what we need now are community libraries – a network of people that exchange all kinds of books. It’s better for the planet, and it’s better for the people.

So, to save the world, use a library instead of accumulating books! Lend out your own books, too. The less we buy, the less impact we have on the world, which really needs to be our goal as we produce WAY too much waste on the planet. Libraries only aren’t for books, either! You can find CDs, DVDs, and audio-book collections in libraries. And the variety of books you’ll find in a library is quite astonishing.

Dip your feet in the pools of knowledge and help make the world a better place by reading and encouraging people to read without creating an impact on the planet!

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Day 59: 10 good (and ecological!) deeds

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A crowd of smiling faces in Ivory Coast. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Doing a good deed for someone always results in more goodness in the world. You can’t fight evil by putting more evil into the world, right? Doing random acts of kindness not only is good for you (what comes around, goes around) but it is good for humanity. Every time you choose to be nice, you’re putting a little more awesomeness into the world.

Now imagine you do something good that is also ecological! How awesome is that?! Not only are you doing your share to leave less of an impact on the planet, you’re helping someone get there, too – and reducing the impact of that person on the planet. I can’t even count how much “good” you get out of helping someone be a better human on Earth – it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Not only are you being environmentally friendly, you’re actually doing more than your share. Pretty cool, huh?

If you want bonus points on being an Earth-savior, check out my tips below.

  1. Cook a vegetarian meal for someone. Often people don’t have time or mind-energy to think about adopting a greener lifestyle, like taking meat out of their diets. By cooking them a vegetarian meal, you’re 1) showing them that it’s possible and tasty 2) filling someone’s belly with veggies instead of meat – that’s a win for the planet! 3) actually being nice to them by saving time and resources 4) showing them some love.
  2. Sort someone else’s trash and make recycling easier for them. This could even be done at work.
  3. Bring palm-oil free cookies to work.
  4. Listen to someone you normally wouldn’t listen to or on ideas you normally wouldn’t listen about. So much good comes out of listening – people feel appreciated, cared for, loved, and they will be more open to your ideas (ecological ones included).
  5. Forgive your roommates for stealing your soap. Letting go of anger instead of exploding is also an act of kindness that makes you a better person in their eyes. (They will also be more likely to listen when you gently ask them to not leave the water running.)
  6. Let people borrow your tools/sharpies/books/camera/stuff. The more you lend, the less people have to buy new stuff, which isn’t good for consumerism.
  7. Pick up random trash on the street/beach. I’ve seen countless people take on a beach challenge (picking up all the micro trash within a radius of their beach spot) or street challenge (picking up all the trash on their daily walks/commutes). It makes the environment cleaner, nicer, and less likely to be a death-trap for animals. Don’t leave it just because you think the trash guy is responsible for picking it up!
  8. Do someone’s dishes for them – especially for that person that loves to leave the faucet running. Do it for the environment!
  9. Give someone a ride, or car share!
  10. Offer to run an errand for someone, knowing that you could do it with less carbon dioxide (going by foot to do grocery shopping for your eldery neighbor , picking up something on the way home for your friend, mailing a letter for your family member that would rather use a car instead).

Like these? Have more? Share your ideas, I’d love to hear them! Kindness is what makes the world go round.

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