Photo by Benjamin Lambert on Unsplash
By Fredi Baker
Something is happening to the world around us. No matter what your beliefs are about climate change, there is no denying it. Icecaps are melting, sea levels are rising. Weather is becoming more extreme. Environmental experts, along with activists like Greta Thunburg (age 17), are becoming louder and more influential. Added to that is the increasing awareness and anxiety about the plastic crisis we’re facing, which brings tangible evidence to the problem everywhere we look. Caring for our environment isn’t a political issue, it’s a humanitarian one.
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” ~ Unknown
When I first stumbled upon the above quote, it touched something deep inside me. It opened my eyes and I realized that we all have a chance to affect change. Even though I am by no means an expert on the subject, it was a call to action for me. So, ten years ago, I began writing a weekly blog called “Get Going, Get Green! (One woman’s search for greening in the word today.)” Back then, I was eager to learn more about the environment and things I could do to make a difference every day. As I took a good look around, I saw that I was already on the path. Maybe I was at the beginning of that path, but I was on it.
I began with the easy stuff. Reusable water bottle? Check. Paper instead of plastic at the grocery store (which quickly turned into having my own reusable bags)? Check. And of course, travel coffee mugs for purchasing my Americano. I became a small-time crusader of sorts, in my life and at work.
Back then, not everybody was open to the idea of caring for the environment, and weren’t ready to make even small changes. I remember the near-rebellion that happened when I tried to get my employer to stop using those plastic red solo cups at the water cooler, and provide employees with their own reusable water bottles. In fact, some people began hoarding those red cups in their desks! The good news is that change happened, led by a few of us, which grew into a few more following along by proudly showing off their own bottles. There was a tipping point where people couldn’t unsee the waste that was going into the landfill daily and wanted to do their part in minimizing that. Or not. At least they were aware that it was a choice, and they had to take responsibility for it.
The red solo cup experience helped me realize that not everyone on the planet shares the same beliefs about our environment and the need for change. I have to confess that this baffled me. In my early innocence, I truly thought that everyone felt like I did about the importance of respecting the environment. Imagine my surprise when some of my co-workers dismissively said, “You’re just a hippie tree-hugger from California.”
But I didn’t let them stop me. At least, not then. I wrote that blog for three years, and never missed a week. Why did I finally stop? Truth is, I got discouraged when I realized that it was such an uphill battle. Today, as I write this, it’s easy to see what flawed thinking I had back then. I’m not starting that blog again; there are voices much more knowledgeable and influential than mine, there are other steps I can take. In fact, there are things we all can do right now to make a difference. We no longer have the luxury of not taking action.
The most basic way for us to personally make a difference is to do what we learned in school: reduce, reuse, recycle. Recycle by donating old, unused clothes and goods so that someone else can benefit from them, and of course recycle glass, aluminum, plastic, etc. Be aware of what you’re sending to the landfill. This awareness leads to examining your purchasing. For example, how much food are you wasting? When you reduce food waste, you also save money. And what about those things acquired on a whim? Ask yourself, Do I really need that new ____? Sometimes that impulse purchase turns into clutter, and ultimately, waste. When you do buy, look for items with less packaging and less plastic. While you’re at it, it’s time to up your reusables game. Things like straws, mugs, bottles, bags, and you-name-its that can be used over and over again all have a positive impact on the environment. As a bonus, you’re sending a message to others that it’s easy to do.
That brings us to being an advocate for the environment by not only watching what you purchase, but who you purchase it from. A few weeks ago, I was at a large knitting show and marketplace attended by over 20,000 people. We all had plenty of opportunities to make choices that aligned with our values. Imagine my surprise when I stepped into the large booth of one of my favorite indie yarn companies that recently changed hands, and saw plastic everywhere. What greeted me was a booth filled with not only yarn, but large plastic plants, bags, hangers, display cases, and more useless plastic items. Behind the counter were multiple plastic single-use bottles and plastic drink cups that had plastic straws. The garbage can nearby was overflowing with more of the same. I quickly realized that this was not in line with my values. Needless to say, I left empty-handed.
Another way to be an advocate is by donating, and even volunteering, for organizations and companies that support the environment. Since this is an election year, you can also let your vote speak for your stance on climate change.
Together, we can all make a difference. As Greta Thunberg said, following the Global Climate Strike in 2019, “Change is coming, whether you like it or not.” It’s up to each of us to do our part in making a positive change for this earth we are borrowing from our children. I’m in, will you join me?
Fredi Baker is a Master Certified Coach who believes in the power of the creative process. For over 20 years, she’s coached people who are ready to break out of where they are and lean into their dreams, their vision and their creativity. She helps them get inspired, focused and motivated to live by their own rules and make a difference in the world. In her spare time, you will find her playing with yarn and needles, whether it’s knitting colorful, chunky wall hangings or designing (and knitting) shawls. Thus far, 5 of her patterns have been published, and she delights in seeing other knitters working with her designs and making their own works of art.
Find her at fredibaker.com
Instagram: @fredibaker and @frediknits
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