Everyone wants to live a healthy and happy life. I don’t think anyone consciously wakes up in the morning saying, “Let’s destroy planet earth!” But busy days, longer hours, and that never ending to do list [ahem…capitalism] is a recipe for quick and fast purchases. Not to mention feeling completely disconnected from nature and the world around us.
And then of course there is environmental racism. Environmental racism is the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on People of Color. Environmental justice is the movement’s response to environmental racism. When it comes to taking care of our planet, there isn’t this easy fix. There are always many variables and intersecting systems of oppression to consider.
We need to amplify the voices of Black and Indigenous people as well as People of Color and people from low-income communities in this conversation, but I’ll save that [much longer] post for another day. For now, take a look at these books from Teaching for Social Justice that bring these conversations to the forefront and center the voices of marginalized communities. If you’re an educator, or just want more information on this topic from a trustworthy source, check out Rethinking Schools book “A People’s Curriculum for the Earth” by Bill Bigelow and Tim Swinehart.
Today I’m going to focus on small steps you, your loved ones, and your children can take to reduce your footprint.
I began striving to live ethically seven years ago. My husband and I met in Placencia, Belize and I decided to stay. Gone were the days of stashing my extra large styrofoam cup of diet coke in my closet while teaching. No Target or Walmart. My favorite clothing store in our village was the fabulous thrift shop at the end of our peninsula’s winding road.
I was privileged to immigrate to a country and develop relationships with people who were connected with their community in sustainable ways. Ways I never felt growing up in suburban America. I was very blessed to be able to spend time outdoors with my students while teaching in Placencia, and integrate Educating for Sustainability (EfS) goals into my curriculum.
So on Climate Strike 2019, here’s a few actions I’ve learned about over the years that everyone can take to nurture our one and only Mother Earth:
Don’t drink the Kool-Aid just because I told you to! Understand how your actions impact the world. Globally and locally. Start with these bad-ass documentaries to explore topics like climate change, the agricultural industry, fast fashion, planned obsolescence, and animal’s rights. Once you know, it’s hard not to change.
When possible, purchase locally sourced items. Head to local farmer’s markets, and get involved in community gardens. This is definitely an area of reflection for me now that I’m back in the states. It’s so crucial that we support small business owners. Instead of ordering on amazon:
- Take a deep breath
- Reflect on how crucial the purchase is
- Seek out the same product in your community
- Ask a friend to borrow or barter
Eat Less Meat
I know this is somewhat controversial but seriously, the studies are out. So unless you frequent (or run) a sustainable farm around the corner, this is an issue that needs your attention. Livestock production has a huge environmental impact.
According to Time Magazine, 30% of the word’s total ice-free surface — is used not to raise grains, fruits and vegetables that are directly fed to human beings, but to support the chickens, pigs and cattle that we eventually eat. Say, what? Not very sustainable.
Oh yes, and 75% of livestock-related greenhouse gas emissions come from cattle (livestock may account for 20% or more of the planet’s total greenhouse gas emissions).
So instead of eating meat every night, try The Minimalist Baker’s 8-Ingredient-Zuchini-Lasagna or Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Harvest Bowls and be sure to check out One Green Planet for healthy, planet conscious meal ideas.
Bring Your Own Bags
Always use reusable bags when you shop. It saddens me to see plastic bags on the beach and in the ocean. You can even reuse your plastic bags!
Find a Reuseable Water Bottle
It’s harder than it seems to remember my water bottle when I take my daughter out and about. But seriously. This is something that we all need to do.
Your Purchase, Your Vote
We vote with our money. Before you purchase something, read the ingredients and labels. If you see companies you don’t wish to support or ingredients that are unethically sourced, don’t buy it! There are other options. And always look for the fair-trade logo to support fair wages for products sourced in developing countries.
Oh, how I love thrift stores!! When you purchase second hand you save money and help the planet. If going to Goodwill and Salvation Army doesn’t sound like a fun Saturday afternoon to you, check out thredUP for your second hand clothing needs.
Hopefully this list helped spark a few ideas for you and your family. Start slow and see where it leads. Let’s start repairing the earth now so it stays around for generations to come!