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Be the Change: Part 3 of 3

Robyn Openshaw - Apr 26, 2012 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Can we talk about ways to walk against the current because we want to Be the Change? I hope you’ll share your ways too, so we can all learn from you.

On airplanes, I hate that they keep bringing everyone cup after cup of water. I keep my cup and ask for refills. (I wish I could bring water from home, but obviously that’s not possible.) Flight attendants say, “I’ll bring you a fresh one,” and I explain, “No thanks, I’m trying to make a small carbon footprint.”

Some just give me a strange look because they may not be familiar with the term. I don’t know where it comes from, but to me it means walking lightly on the earth. Not leaving deep tracks that hurt the next generations. Minimizing the amount of fossil fuels that had to be pulled out of the Earth just because I lived here.

I don’t want to take more than my “fair share” of resources. It means I don’t use stuff with lots of packaging.

What are things YOU do, to opt out of so much use of fossil fuels, so many throw-away items heaping up the landfills, so much excess?

Some of mine:

I always re-use water bottles (until I lose them or they break). I fill them with filtered, alkaline water from home, rather than the kind that has to be flown and trucked all over the world. (And which cost twice as much as gasoline, by the way!) When traveling, I try to buy gallons of filtered water rather than water bottles. Over 1 million water bottles go to landfills daily.

I refuse the napkin they give you with the drink on airplanes. In a restaurant, I take just one napkin, and look for ways to minimize the amount of throw-away stuff I’m given to hold my food.

I avoid overeating.

I eat plants, since eating animals is one of the most unsustainable practices there is. (It takes 20 lbs. of plants, and 1,000 gallons of water, to make 1 lb. of meat!)

I reuse grocery bags indefinitely. I refuse them if my items can fit in my purse. Or I take my reuseable ones.

I buy very little that comes in boxes or cans.

I recycle.

I don’t take a newspaper anymore and choose paperless billing.

I garden, organically.

I compost. I take other people’s bags of leaves, and compost them, too. (I let my own leaves compost in the lawn.)

I don’t spray for bugs.

I use organic, biodegradable cleaners and soaps.

I teach my kids to do all this stuff.

I would love to hear your ways of leaving a smaller carbon footprint? I want to learn more, do more.

Posted in: Mind/Body Connection, Tools & Products

7 thoughts on “Be the Change: Part 3 of 3”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I pretty much do a lot of the same things you do. I pick up trash as I see it to help keep where we live clean and recycle can and bottles thrown out. Teaching our children is one of the most important things as they will not have to be retaught as some of us were. Thank you for all you do to give back. Living by example is also another way to let everyone see how to make a difference. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I do all the things you listed above although I don’t fly commercially or travel much.

    I consolidate all my errands that require driving to one trip per week.

    I walk/run my neighborhood and do work on my house for exercise instead of using electric powered machines or driving to a gym.

    I choose to receive my bills online as opposed to paper.

    I am vegan.

    I grow much of the food I eat in my yard and share with neighbors.

    I buy produce that is in season where I live, over that which is grown in another hemisphere and shipped in during the off season.

    I use a broom over a vacuum cleaner on my wood floors and area rugs.

    I insulated my house and installed solar powered attic fans instead of replacing the air conditioner when it broke. This was a big deal since we have 100+ degree weather through much of the summer.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I do most all you do Robyn. When I was a child, 60 years ago, I always wondered where all that stuff went once it was buried in the “dump”. My father said it just rotted. Well, most of what has been dumped does not rot. It’s still there creating hazards. I am ever conscious of every item I drop into our garbage bin, as opposed to the recycle bin. I think, how could I eliminate that in the future? This is what I’m doing:

    – changing from plastic to glass storage jars and bottles, reusing commercial ones

    – organic veg gardening, using less water, composting

    – using cloth napkins, waxed paper, parchment paper, washing & reusing any plastic bags

    – reading rather than watching movies. We don’t own a t.v.

    – Get exercise gardening, projects, hiking, biking, swimming

    – carpool to events

    – never turn on A.C. till after 4pm in summer. Redding Ca. gets over 100 Jul-Oct

    – using biodegradable laundry and cleaning products, many homemade

    – hang out my laundry on a clothesline

    – buy most of my clothes in thrift store, reusing at it’s best!

    I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. Just try to imagine living self-sufficiently, and what things would be so important that you wouldn’t toss them. No waste, no want. Old fashioned, but true.

  4. Anonymous says:

    First of all, I’m a walker. Six years ago I moved to an area where I find it quite easy to complete most of my daily errands by walking and/or using the local free bus service. It’s great exercise and it has given me a new appreciation for nature. I notice so many kinds of flowers, trees, scents, housing styles, changing neighborhood features, etc. that weren’t even on my radar when I spent most of my time traveling by car. I encourage everyone to spend just a little more time walking each week if possible. It has also made me more aware of litter and pollution problems. Bottle caps and candy wrappers are much more noticeable when you’re walking down the footpath than when you’re on the road. It has encouraged me to pick up litter in my spare time. See and their corresponding Facebook page for a great litter clean-up organization that celebrates individual efforts via social media.

    In my backpack I carry a reusable fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks, and napkin so that I don’t have to accept plastic cutlery if I’m eating somewhere that doesn’t provide metal cutlery- ie. sushi train, food festival, farmers’ market.

    I have been using Kleen Kanteen stainless steel water bottles for all my water drinking needs for the past 7 years. Even though you can’t go through airport security with water in the bottle, there is often a water fountain near the gate to refill it. In rare cases where there is security screening next to the gate, you can usually get the bottle re-filled on the airplane with no problems. I am much happier using a metal bottle than a plastic one. They last FOREVER- I don’t anticipate ever having to buy another one.

    I buy as much of my food and toiletries as possible by filling my own containers from bulk bins. This includes grains and flours, spices, dried beans, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, shampoo, honey, vinegar, frozen berries, olive oil, castile soap, multipurpose cleaner, laundry detergent, dish soap, etc. It cuts way down on packaging waste. I empty my recycling bin much less frequently since I started this. If I need to buy packaged products I try to choose products that use cardboard/paper or glass since they recycle better.

    I carry reusable canvas grocery bags and washable nylon produce bags when I shop. Most people at the checkout counters comment on how cute/useful my produce bags are and I tell them where they can get them. I hope over time I’ve inspired at least a few people to cut down on their plastic bag use. I also shop at markets where the organic produce is loose and unpackaged. There are some places that tray and shrink-wrap everything and I avoid those.

    At home I use cloth napkins and microfiber cloths as opposed to disposable paper products. I also buy recycled toilet paper and computer paper.

    I really admire everyone who does his/her own composting, gardening, and food preserving. Someday when I don’t live in a second-floor apartment on a busy road I hope to try it. 🙂 I haven’t tried composting on my balcony or in my kitchen so I just save some food scraps in the freezer for vegetable stock.

  5. It seems a bit strange to think about footprint and plastic cups whilst flying in a plane. Every little bit helps, but if I were you I would think about how much I really want and need to travel and in what way..

    I’m really curious about the tooth thing.. Looking forward to reading it!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know how to get the Yellow Pages people from throwing those useless books onto my porch every few months? To me, that is a huge waste of resources. I would like to know how to tell them to stop assuming I want them!

  7. I love reusable metal bottles too. But, if you give them to small children, I’m not convinced they’ll last forever. It turns out that if you band them on enough surfaces, or if they get thrown at concrete? (guessing based on the damage inflicted) they do suffer. That said, only one of ours has died so far. 🙂

    Re: the travel issue. Having tried Amtrak and a boat across the Atlantic, I would certainly recommend them over air travel to anyone who had time to travel that way.

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