Forgo and forget the grand gestures and opt for small changes

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Grand gestures can be remarkable and can act as a symbol for us all but it is much better to keep it simple and to the point. Let’s make things very easy on ourselves and see how effective small changes can be. Small changes can be more effective than grand gestures and acts because everyone can make those small changes but not everyone can do the big things. This is why so may people don't even start on the “green road” because they believe that they cannot affect any change and that the little that can do will have no effect or impact.

If we consider that all who think thus would make their small changes instead of bemoaning the fact that they cannot afford the big acts we already might have gone a fair way down the road that we have to travel in order to make the Planet healthy again.

REFUSE disposable plastics (and over packaging)

Disposable plastics are built to be thrown away and they exist forever. How pointless is that? They tend to travel around, on their eternal journey of existence, and end up in our ocean, where they form huge garbage patches.

Single-use plastic bags are but one though perfect example. While plastic bags are not particularly appealing to our appetites, turtles, on the other hand, love the shape of them. They eat them, thinking that they are jellyfish, and eventually die. To help prevent this happening to turtles use reusable bags instead.

And don't stop there – reusable bottles are great too, whether they are metal, glass or, yes, even plastic. In the latter case ensure that they are BPA-free and don't just say so. Also watch for cheap aluminium as their liners may, more than likely, are made of resins that contain BPA.

Plastic flatware: Don't! Instead BYO “real” cutlery. And while this may be a little like being in the military, the Boy Scouts or at a boarding school, it is the best way to go.

REDUCE your environmental footprint: Reducing our environmental footprint, especially if it is in regards to plastic, is easy if you make it a part of your decision-making process. When you purchase a car, you don’t pick it with no regard for price, options, or style. When you adopt a pet, you don’t call up the store and ask them to send you any dog they feel like picking out for you. Making conscious decisions about important things in our lives is what we do. Make informed decisions about your purchases instead of passively allowing plastic manufacturers to make those decisions for you, and you’ll start reducing your plastic use as a result.

But it is not just the use of plastic we must reduce. There are other materials too that, especially as regards to packaging, are not required and which are not biodegradable. And even the likes of cardboard, while biodegradable, should be reduced. Do we really have to have those expanded polystyrene “beans” with which to package things? What's wrong with shredded paper? In the old days it was so-called “wood wool” that was used for packaging which was, basically, wood shavings and shredded paper will do equally well, as does straw, for that matter.

REUSE: Make reusing a part of your life. Surround yourself with beautiful objects that you would love to see for a long time. Nothing worth making should be thrown away. Don’t let a manufacturer determine what products you MUST use because they refuse to offer alternatives. You are the customer. They should be changing to suit your needs and not the other way around. Let them know by giving your money and support to those who do offer alternatives.

REPURPOSE: Make repurposing a habit to such an extent that you consider each item of waste in the light of whether you can repurpose and upcycle it for your own use or for others.

It is the small changes in our lives that will, over time, especially as we add to those small changes over time, have a great effect.

Grand gestures often are one-off acts that won't be sustained thus the small changes and small acts are better by far.

© 2011