I hate New Year’s Resolutions. Sure, the end of the year lends itself quite easily to reflection on the important events, milestones, successes and failures, improvements and shortcomings of the year, but I take a different approach to resolutions. Reflection, or contemplation, should be something we do throughout the year. Kinda like that sentiment “Oh that we could always see such spirit through the year.” Why wait until the end of the year to consider improving some aspect of our lives? Being a long time procrastinator I began to see the “New Year’s Resolution” phenomenon as just another gimmick imposed upon us by our consumer driven society. It’s been about 20 years since I resolved to give-up making New Year’s Resolutions for Lent!
Yep. You guessed it: I don’t “give-up” anything for Lent, either! It’s the same thing. We vow to give-up something, only to fall into the same old ways or habits a few weeks or months later. My parish priest often says that giving up something like smoking for Lent is certainly noble, but it often makes one cranky. And then when Easter rolls around they buy a carton & smoke up a storm! Not exactly the right message, and there’s no real change. How many times do we make resolutions only to break them or fail to complete them? I don’t know about you, but I don’t need new reasons to feel defeated & inadequate at the beginning of a New Year! Why torture myself?
Instead, I try to reflect on my life as it happens. If something isn’t working in my life, I reflect on it right then & there, whether it’s January 1st or August 27th! I think it’s human nature to look at what to “cut” from our lives, but oftentimes we forget to consider what to “add” to our lives to make them fuller, richer, and more meaningful. And, I don’t mean that in a self-centered way, but in a more connected way. How does my life impact the lives of others? How can I become a more positive, loving, peaceful, mindful being? How do my behaviors, attitudes, and understandings need to grow or change?
Recently I created a list of 10 Things To Do To Improve the Environment to be shared with my Adrian Dominican Community. Not surprisingly, there are many top-10 style lists out there on the topic of Climate Change, Global Warming, and Carbon Footprint. What caught my eye today is a new top-14 list from the FoodTank, a Food Think Tank. There are lots of good suggestions out there for those of us who still need to make New Year’s Resolutions and are looking for something more connected than the customary “exercise more” or “clean out the garage” (yeah, mine’s a mess & I probably do need to do more sit-ups!).
Happy New Year, everyone!
PEACE & JOY!
So, here’s my list with a few good links:
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT
(And Minimize Your Carbon Footprint)
1. Eliminate plastic from your life. Plastic is everywhere and it can be overwhelming when considering the number of products, household items, appliances, techno-devices, and everyday items that are made using plastics. Don’t despair! Check-out this link and do something each day, week, or month to start your journey to a “Plastic-free Life!” http://plasticfreeguide.com
2. Bring your own reusable bags. You know you should use them, but you always forget to bring them into the store. Here’s a tip: keep them on the front seat or in the trunk of the car. You’ve developed many other good habits, this is just one more. And don’t just bring them to the grocery store. Bring them when you shop for clothing, shoes, and other regular needs. This act alone will inspire others in the check-out line to do the same!
3. Bring your own containers. How often do you find yourself at a restaurant asking for a box for your unfinished meal? For me the answer is, “Always!” You know those bags for groceries you started keeping in the trunk? Keep reusable containers there, too. Styrofoam is equally as bad as plastic and you probably have more Tupperware than you know what to do with. Why not keep some in the trunk “just in case?”
4. Pack your lunch. This makes so much sense on many levels! Here’s just one link with some creative ideas from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/15-fresh-brown-bag-lunch-ideas. We’re all busy, but by preparing meals just once or twice a week you’ll not only save time & money, you’ll help the environment in many ways. No gas is used by you or the delivery person, no take-out packaging, and you probably won’t throw away any uneaten food.
5. Plan your trips. Until the transportation industry changes over to more sustainable & affordable vehicles, we’re stuck with cars that burn fossil fuels. Yuck! You can minimize your gas consumption by planning & limiting your daily or weekly trips. Here is a link to a site with even more tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint at home, work, when traveling, & more: http://www.carbonfund.org/reduce
6. Use cloth napkins. Make every meal a special occasion! You can even make your own napkins from cheap remnants at your local fabric store. It takes less water to wash that cloth napkin than it did to make that 500 count package of paper napkins (even if it is recycled paper). Also consider the plastic that those paper napkins are wrapped in!
7. Take back the tap! Food & Water Watch has everything you need to kick that bottled water habit! If you are in charge of planning meetings or events, consider using drinking glasses and pitchers of water instead of those wasteful & expensive water bottles. Do the math: We pay more for bottled water than we do for gasoline! http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/take-back-the-tap/
8. Open the windows, or close them. We live in a world of extreme weather and record-breaking temperatures, thanks in no small part to climate change. If you live in a home or apartment where you can open & close windows, you can cut your electric bill in half. I don’t know about you, but I grew up with a dad who was well known for shouting, “Close the door! We’re not heating the neighborhood!” And a mother who was fond of saying “If you’re cold, put on a sweater. If you’re hot, take it off!”
9. Eat & shop locally & seasonally. Find your local Farmers Market and make it your weekly trip for seasonal fruits and vegetables. Most of the produce at the supermarket is shipped from other countries & is out of season for the region we may live in. By shopping locally and eating seasonally you are helping the local economy as well as the environment. It’s easy to buy large quantities of fruits and vegetables from your local farmer and freeze them or “put them up” like we used to do.
10. Shop with purpose. This last one addresses social justice issues as well as the environmental impact factor, and so it makes the list for many reasons. Read labels & know who makes your clothing! NPR’s “Planet Money” recently produced a story that tracked the production of a t-shirt. Not only does it address the very human side of our purchases, but it also shines a light on the environmental impact of the journey across continents and oceans that these goods make before landing in our shopping carts.