Taking On the World’s Environmental Issues, One Person at a Time
By Natalie Montanaro
It may feel as if you are alone in the world when it comes to dealing with issues of noise and air pollution, waste management, clean and safe drinking water, healthy ocean life, and sufficient resources for the animal kingdom, among other global environmental problems. They affect each one of us, and each of us has a responsibility to try to alleviate our own footprint on the earth so that generations to come will have a lasting homeland. But what if you, as an individual, are witness to things that are detrimental to the environment, and you, that same individual, want to do something about your little slice of the pie but are at a loss as to how to accomplish that?
This segment discusses ways to become an environmental activist on your own when, at times, it seems as if no one is listening to your beating heart.
One of the best ways to feel useful in the war against climate change and other environmental maladies is to begin at home. Your home should be your sanctuary and if it isn’t, change it. If you get stressed when seeing media coverage about environmental issues, turn it off. It’s okay to research and be informed about an issue, but it’s not good to saturate your day with the voices of many talking heads, photos, and videos about how the world’s nature is dying off because of man’s inhumanity to man.
What can you do? Start by making your home chemical free; get rid of any kind of cleaning products or cosmetics that are not in line with your belief system. Get your pantry in order by taking a stand, and do not buy anything with excess packaging or preservatives. Learn to cook meals that support local farmers. Be sure to have a quiet room to rest in, where sunlight and peace will rejuvenate you. Take the time to spruce up your home with greenery; admire and care for the plants and flowers within because ‘charity begins at home.’
It sounds impossible, but if you are not in agreement with an employer whose policies and actions are contributing negatively to the environment, then consider another position elsewhere. There are plenty of green-conscious companies who would be happy to have someone like you on their team. Get the training you need to move forward, move on, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Most of us have people in our lives whom we love and respect, but who sometimes don’t agree with our views. Environmental issues may not be as ‘hot’ a topic for them as other major news events such as crime rates or politics, for example. Feel that your opinions matter, especially in the fold of people who have come to be close to you. Don’t be intimidated. At your next meeting, take the floor and suggest ways in which each of you can contribute to positive change. A little goes a long way and you’d be surprised at how planting a simple idea can grow into something fruitful down the line.
TAKING CARE OF YOU
Lastly, it’s critical that you feel you are making a difference. As with any activity, having a healthy mindset and conserving your energy for the most important thing in life—your healthy future—is key. You’ve all heard the phrase: you can’t help anyone until you help yourself first. Well, it’s true. First of all, don’t bite off more than you can chew, and choose your battles wisely. Each week, make a promise to yourself to do one good thing, like attending an ecologically-minded meeting or volunteering for a clean-up. That’s really all it takes to feel that you are doing something worthwhile. Any action is better than no action at all.
Environmental issues are a hot topic right now, and the news is not often positive. This might make you feel paralyzed and, therefore, unable to take anything on at all. But you, as a person and all on your own, can constructively view what is going on around you and make positive decisions to alter how you react to that information by stepping back a bit, focusing on what matters most (particularly to you), and always setting an example at home, at work, and elsewhere, of how one person’s contribution to the change can be the start of something big.