​Inspired by Earth Day: 8 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

We are celebrating Earth Day, which marks the anniversary of the modern environmental movement incited in 1970. However, the struggle for awareness that the environment faces should go beyond this day. It’s a continuous plight to save the Earth. I know, I know, its sounds a bit dramatic and most of us would probably just brush this off. We think to ourselves, why not leave this problem to the big players--- "the environmentalists", "the activists", the politicians", as we have other things on our mind.

But here's the deal, no matter how you much ignore this, the fact remains that Earth's problems are yours too.. It is the one and only planet, which we can call “home.”

Why is your involvement as an individual so important? Because part of the ecology is not only the presence of natural resources, it involves the earth’s prime species, us humans. We consume 80% of Earth’s natural resources and the way we have consumed these resources have brought environmental pains as well as human suffering in the process. The sad consequence among many others is climate change.

Let me put it this way, would you let others vandalize your house? The planet is our home; we ourselves vandalize it because we demand, and even require, a lifestyle that is simply unsustainable in the long term. At some point we should all take a moment to take stock of the complexity that we have attained in our lives. Look at what you’re wearing, what you’re eating, what you’re buying. Have you ever stopped to think the process by which each item you enjoy today went through to be produced?

While we cannot reverse the pains, we can at least be part of the healing process. 

Here are some habits you can start with as an individual to reduce your carbon footprint.

  1. Say goodbye to plastic when shopping. Carry a reusable bag with you always.
  2. Maybe it's time to get in touch with your green thumb. Start your own garden, and slowly self sustain some of your food provisions. Say no to a “fast food” diet.
  3. Buy quality made products versus fast and mass produced goods. That way you do not have to keep on changing or buying to replace these items.
  4. Thrifting for clothes is a not so bad, same with repurposing furniture or buying second hand gadgets. Find new life for used items. This is also a great way to get resourceful and creative! Arc Value Village in the Twin Cities even has a *free* personal thrift shopper to help match your style!
  5. Go paperless! Ditch paper bills and sign-up for it’s digital counterpart.
  6. If you only need to go a short distance, you may choose to walk or bike there instead of taking a car.
  7. Bring your own water bottle instead of buying disposable bottled drinks.
  8. Support ethical brands. Be mindful of your shopping habits and the brands you buy.

These are just some of the things you can do. It’s a long process but anytime is a good time to begin. Add to the list as you go on!

I end again with this beautiful and inspiring quote from one of my favorite documentaries,“In the Shadow of the Moon.”

“We learned a lot about the Moon, but what we really learned was about the Earth. The fact that just from the distance of the Moon, you can put your thumb up, and you can hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything that you have ever known, your loved ones, your business, the problems of the Earth itself, all behind your thumb. And how insignificant we really all are. But then how fortunate we are to have this body, and to be able to enjoy living here amongst the beauty of the Earth itself.”- Jim Lovell, NASA Astronaut, Commander of Apollo 13 & Command Module Pilot of Apollo 8

Loving our home is about respect, humility and most of all, compassion. We are in the “mindfulness” revolution. “Mindfulness” should be a collective effort; it is about changing mindsets so that we flourish together as a human race living side by side with other life forms on Earth. 

Photo credit to: Flickr Creative Commons / Kevin Gill