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Making a Difference

Did you know that the 50th anniversary of Earth Day was this past Wednesday, April 22nd ? Fifty years that we as humans recognize how our ordinary, daily lives negatively impact the earth’s ecosystem and a reminder of what we can do to change our ways. There is so much irreversible damage already done that it might be somewhat overwhelming – I know it is to me. Not only is it important to recognize the need for change but it is important to create change, even if it’s one person at a time.

If you didn’t get a chance to join our Environmental Film discussions in our Facebook Group -The Conversation Club, please take the time to watch some of the films available on Kanopy. If anything, it will foster an environmental awareness to help you make daily choices to benefit the Earth, not hurt it. And that’s a good thing.

After watching the documentary Bag It!, a film about plastic bags and other one-use disposable plastic items, and how they affect our land, the marine environment and the human body, I am reminded of how important our recent ban on the use of plastic bags is for the preservation of our environment and wildlife. At first, I have to say, it was somewhat of a burden and took awhile to get used to. First, I would forget my reusable bags altogether. Then, I would put them in the car but somehow they would not make it into the store. I think I must have run back to the car on at least 5 shopping trips before my brain reminded me to put them in the cart BEFORE I went into the store! Now, it is quite routine – leave them in the car, put them in the cart before I get into the store, bring the groceries into the house to unload, wipe down the bags to sanitize them and then put them back in the car before the next shopping trip. This little inconvenience in our lives reduced the use of single carryout plastic bags in Suffolk County by 1.1 million the first year the law was in effect. According to the study, plastic and paper bag use dropped by 8o percent and there are 41% fewer plastic bags found on local beaches!

So there! At first not so easy, but in addition to changing the ways we carry out store-bought items, there are so many more  positive, environmentally friendly habits we can make that are just as significant. To keep it simple, just remember the 5 Rs. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.

Surprise! Recycling is not the first choice we make when trying to make an impact.

 Refuse – Limit buying and ask yourself … do I really need to buy this? Do I have something that serves the same purpose? In the long run, it will save you a ton of money.

Reduce – Resist impulse buying; another money-saving option. This one is hard for me – especially when I am home on the computer all day and all I see are emails with sales on items I want … not need. Ask yourself, am I purchasing something I will be using more than 30 times?  Do I need it?

 Reuse. Almost everything we buy or use, ends up in landfills. Forget about one-time use items and choose to purchase items you can reuse, over and over. I wanted a new rocker for my porch. Although it is not the exact style I would prefer, I will be painting the one I already have.

Repurpose – this one is simple and could be fun. Are you good at crafting things from household items? These are the upcycled crafts you find on Pinterest and other craft websites. I have been meaning to make something out of all those empty candle jars and will be able to find a lot of DIY instructions on the Internet. If you need some inspiration, you could check out the books on my recent bibliography “Crafts – reuse, restore, recycle.”

 Recycle: The last option is to recycle. Unfortunately even if plastic containers and bottles have the chasing arrows symbol on the bottom, not all of them are actually recyclable. This is why we need to work on the first 4 Rs and then limit purchasing one-time use plastics and other non-recyclable items. Good luck and remember … “You can make a difference! “

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall.

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