Saturday, June 18, 2011

Be The Change You Want To See In The World

It's easy to sound preachy when talking about things that you are passionate about because you truly want others to understand and see the world as you see it. Lately I've become guilty of this whenever the topic of conversation is food or living green. I try to stop myself, but then feel pangs of guilt for not warning friends, family and complete strangers about the toxicity of the things they're eating, applying to their bodies or tossing into the landfill is just too much to bear and my mouth spills over in a sewage of information and facts that must sound like I've gone completely mad. I mean really, we live in America afterall, a country that would never give biotech companies the go ahead to control our entire food chain or let unsafe chemicals fill our store shelves disguised as products that will make us more beautiful or our homes sparkly clean.

It wasn't so long ago that I was comforted by the idea that we live in a country that has government agencies in place to protect us from these sorts of things. Unfortunately, I was wrong. We live in a world that is powered by profit. When money matters most we lose sight of what is truly important and become careless, thoughtless and blind to the harm we are causing.

I have faith that the world will come together and realize that errors of our ways, but I fear that it will be too late. If we don't start making changes in the way we live, we might not have a place to live that isn't contaminated with all the toxic stuff that was supposed to make our lives so much better, easier, happier.

So, what's the answer? Shouting from the rooftops and on crowded street corners seems like the obvious choice, but getting people to listen isn't easy. Sometimes I think people don't want to know the truths because change is hard and they are just getting by as it is.

I've been thinking about the reasons that our family started taking steps to live a greener lifestyle and my daughter's face flooded most every memory. Starly has always been a tree huggin', nature lovin', girly gnome kinda girl and although she's still a little shy, she's become quite an activist on her own. Her enthusiasm has inspired us to learn more and do more, for ourselves and the planet, but she's also inspired changes in other unexpected ways that make me feel a little giddy inside when I think about it.

After starting our waste-free lunches last year, we began to think about our use of disposables in a whole new way. Instead of seeing just one plastic fork getting thrown into the trash can, we started imagining a pile of forks in a landfill and wondering how big our own pile would be after a lifetime of disposable habits. If we're just one person, one family with a pile of forks, there must be others and they probably have a pile of spoons to match... and plates... oh, my! That's a lot of piles. How silly it seems to waste so much. We don't see them, but those piles are real and they don't go away. They just sit. They just are. Those piles made my daughter stand up and make a choice to say "no". She said no to people she respected most. She said no at family gatherings, picnics and parties. She refused to use paper plates, disposable silverware and plastic cups everywhere she went. She even packed a little plate from home when she went to birthday celebrations at friend's houses. This was a bit frustrating (and probably a bit embarrassing) for her hosts, but a surprising thing happened. Those very same people started washing dishes instead of using disposables whenever we came to visit!

I think the answer is actually pretty simple. Live by example. Be the change the want to see in the world. Make healthy choices. Waste less. Walk softly on the earth and others will follow your footsteps.


I'm happy to report that as I close this post, I've also just finished sewing a pile of cloth napkins and a handy bag that is now filled with a very simple litterless meal kit that our family can take along everywhere we go! More on that project to be revealed soon.

Peace and love.


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