21 January 2011

How to become an eco-believer in three easy steps

All the talk about our planet being at a tipping point with resources stretched to the limit never really registered in your brain before, but lately, you’ve been pondering the what ifs with a lot more frequency. Maybe you’re not entirely certain -- scientifically speaking -- of where you stand on the issue of global warming, but one thing is for sure… you’ve been noticing some crazy weather-related shiznit hitting the fan in the last several years.

Maybe you’re a fresh-faced student just beginning to dial into the world outside of your window, or a parent contemplating whether the future will indeed be so bright that your children will get the privilege of wearing shades. Heck, you might even be a wizened individual who has been around the block a few times but still gives a flying flip about what condition the planet is in once you finally move on to another plane.

Then it hits you like a mega-ton of bricks. What if planet earth is, indeed, coming to a screeching halt in the foreseeable future? You tell yourself in a particularly contemplative moment that it would genuinely suck if it all ended…especially in your lifetime. Technically, it’s not even fair, especially since you never personally dumped chemicals in the ocean or tore out vast swaths of the Amazon rain forest.

But…what if it’s legitimately true? Is it possible that the planet that you call home is dying right before your very eyes? Are you really in some way responsible -- just by virtue of the fact that you’re a resident? How will it all play out, you wonder? Will it be just like some apocalyptic scene plucked straight out of a Hollywood disaster movie? (Cool to watch on the big screen, but you definitely wouldn’t want to be there in the flesh?) Or maybe the signs will be slow but steady…kind of like how they are right now.

You shudder. The hair on the back of your neck stands at full attention. You wonder if it’s really possible to turn back the hands of time by being far more responsible about your personal lifestyle choices. If you’re not already an eco-believer who is fully determined to make a positive impact through your daily rituals, you definitely need to review the following handy-dandy cheat sheet for inspiration. If -- after breezing through the three simple yet sensible points below -- you're still not motivated to green it like you mean it, then may I suggest a swift smack upside the head ;)


Something’s going on out there, people. You can ignore the news headlines all you want, but it won’t alter the fact that whether you live in Timbuktu or Kalamazoo, the planet is changing on a daily-weekly-monthly-and-yearly basis…and it’s happening in your own personal neck of the woods.

As much as any of us hate to acknowledge, it really IS a small world after all. Widespread ecosystem pollution, chronic waste, intensive resource consumption – they’re all responsible for mass wildlife extinctions, weather disturbances and a very iffy future for us all. If you can personally get past whatever denial you may have held onto and take things at face value (.... Mother Nature is exhibiting some screwy symptoms), acceptance typically paves the way for action.


Hey…you have to look out for number one, right? In a manner of speaking, perhaps, but there’s a big difference between taking care of your family/basic livelihood and living with a ‘screw everyone else’ mentality. We all require basic necessities – food, clothing, shelter, transportation, etc. – but once we take on the role of uber-consumer, chewing up and spitting out everything in our wake, our planet ultimately suffers.

It’s wildly apparent with the typical McMansion attitude in our country, but equally as prevalent in blue collar households where people intentionally opt out of recycling, or buy impossibly ginormous bulk items that they end up chucking because they’re physically impossible to consume before the expiration date. If you really want to change what’s happening in the world, begin at the source – YOU.


You know what a conscience is and hopefully you’ve exercised it on a regular basis. Why shouldn’t your home planet be the beneficiary of the very same courtesy that you typically extend to family members and friends? When it comes to the fragile state of our environment, we’re all in it together, but what YOU do when eyeballs are not watching makes a tremendous impact, especially when you repeat that righteous behavior over and over again.

This is a very basic example, but with widespread municipal recycling programs in full swing, there is literally NO GOOD REASON why anyone should deposit another glass, metal, plastic or paper-based item in their garbage can…forever more, amen. There is no more room for laziness or apathy. Ditto for chucking perfectly edible leftovers (freeze them, for God’s sake!) or chronically upgrading electronics/clothing/bling/cars/homes. If there’s a greener choice – and nine times out of ten, there is -- embrace it because it’s the least that you can do for your planet and the benefit of humanity.

Elizah Leigh | @elizahleigh
Elizah Leigh's master's degree in education combined with her passion for the written word and deep-seated interest in environmental issues has proven to be the ideal trifecta for her present status as a green journalist. Currently commissioned to write a reference book on vegetarianism, Elizah hopes to inspire people through her words. Follow Elizah on Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/aunto