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Monday, June 20, 2011

Peace to the Environment

Can anyone tell me what these little one-inch rubber dudes are supposed to be?  My daughter came home with a handful of them in a goody bag a few weeks ago and I’ve been mystified ever since.  Whatever they are, they must be pretty special.  They come individually wrapped.

This is not cool.

Note to manufacturers and sellers of junky little plastic toys (and extraneous packaging):  The world already has more than enough junky little plastic toys (and extraneous packaging).  No need to make any more.  In fact, plenty of them are right here in my daughter’s bedroom.  (Plastic rings, bouncy balls, Silly Bandz, miniature maze games, glow sticks with no more glow…. I could go on and—unfortunately—on.)

Note to self:  Don’t buy this stuff. …Or at least try to limit it.

As a parent, it’s hard to completely avoid the little trinkets and prizes and toys that so easily turn into so much clutter.  I’m not going to tell my daughter to say “no thanks” when offered a goody bag at a birthday party.  That would be rude.

And, to be honest, I’ve been guilty of passing out goody bags myself.  (Sorry, parents!)  I know there are some creative alternatives out there.  It just takes a little more time and effort. 

Yeah, limiting this stuff would be good.  These little cheapie toys add up.  So does a lot of the other stuff we buy and toss.  I think most of us know by now that our consumerist/throw-away culture is taking a toll on the environment.  If you haven’t visited the Story of Stuff in awhile, it’s worth another look.  There’s some new material as well as some great resources for kids. 

The good news is that there’s lots we can do to be more considerate of Mother Earth.  Just as those pointless little rubber dudes add up, so do our little acts of kindness.

(Remember, one does matter.)

In the spirit of sharing ideas, here are a few of the little changes I’ve made to reduce waste, pollution and clutter:

v     I switched to cloth napkins (most of the time).  They may be mismatched and unpressed, but at least they’re not disposable.

v     I pay most of my bills on line, and I don’t print out the confirmation page.  Instead, I jot down the confirmation number on the bill and/or in my checkbook register, and there’s usually an email confirmation as well.  (I know, I know—getting the bills electronically would save even more paper.  I’m just not ready for that step, yet.

v     I opt out of junk mail as far as possible.  Catalog Choice is a great way to do that, as well as OptOutPrescreen.com, to reduce credit card offers. 

v     I use reusable bags when shopping.  Reusable bags are everywhere now.    (Well, everywhere but trees, oceans, and landfills.) And I’m even getting better at remembering to bring them!

v     I plugged in a power strip behind the TV for all the electronics hooked to the TV, and I flip it off at night and other times when nobody’s using it.

v     I buy organic food whenever I can.  And I don’t eat meat.

This is not to say I’m an eco-saint or anything.  I know I could do better, actually.  I don’t necessarily strive to be like No Impact Man-- although his story is interesting and his project inspiring.  But I do wish to live more mindfully, which includes being more environmentally-conscious as well as more people-conscious.

For a nice description of the connection between peace and the environment, check out this blog I came across:  Change for Peace: A Peace Master Student's Blog.  

And for some Native American wisdom, Chief Seattle (1855):  “Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.”  

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