Updated: Aug 9, 2019
“Stop destroying the planet. It’s where I keep all my stuff.”
Way to go, Internet, for bringing some humor to a serious situation we’re facing as a species and a planet.
After chuckling about it, though, I wondered if there wasn’t something profound in this argument after all. Protecting the environment isn’t at its core about protecting our “stuff” - our material possessions that don’t really matter in the end. But there’s other “stuff” that does really matter. If by “stuff” we mean trees, rivers, oceans, and mountains we love, then the planet is where we “keep” our “stuff.” If by “stuff” we mean our children and grandchildren, our creative work, our stories, our futures, our very lives - then the storage place for these precious things, the planet, becomes worth preserving, indeed.
Between air, water, and soil pollution, species extinction, and climate change, we’re not doing a great job protecting the place where we keep all this “stuff.” On one hand, our situation has to do with geopolitics and the Global Economy - huge forces we seemingly cannot influence at all. On the other hand, protecting the planet starts right in your home with the choices you make about how to care for your family.
Some home products can be quite harmful to the environment because of the chemicals they contain and how they were produced. Some companies cut corners on health and sustainability in order to offer the cheapest price. Fortunately other companies have created eco friendly products. Sometimes called “green” or “eco-friendly” or “sustainable products” these products have benefits not only for the earth and all its “stuff”, including you and your family’s health.
The main characteristics that make a produce “green” are:
Non-toxic, organic ingredients from nature (a good test is whether you can pronounce all the ingredients listed!)
Energy- and water- efficiency to reduce the draw on natural resources
Recycled materials (glass, plastic, or wood)
As little packaging as possible to avoid plastic pollution
Ethical sourcing and employment practices
Let’s take a tour of your home and some “stuff” that will make your life gentler on the earth.
The kitchen is the heart of the home. When planning your meals, seek out locally grown, seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables. Raising animals for meat is intensive on the environment. If you do eat meat, limit your intake and support sustainable and ethical farms. Collect food scraps for composting in home compost or at a donation site.
Plastic (bags, water bottles, storage containers) use billions of gallons of oil each year to produce and often end up in landfills, litter neighborhoods, clog waterways, and endanger wildlife. Use (trendy!) reusable bags to grocery shop, a reusable water bottle and coffee mug, and glass containers for leftovers or work lunches. You can even get non-plasticplastic wrap, straws and utensils for picnics and travel.
Many home cleaning and beauty products have negative impacts on the air, waterways, oceans, and even human health. Make your own non-toxic, budget-friendly green cleaning products in glass bottles with basic ingredients (e.g., baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, essential oils, and water).
Whether you live in the desert or by a lake, conserving water helps the earth retain its natural water cycles, which supports all the other systems we need for our health. Do not run water if you’re not using it, and don’t splurge on time in the shower. Instead, treat yourself with eco- and health-friendly at-home spa products, towels, and accessories.
If you haven’t gotten on the Marie Kondo wagon yet, catch up by selling, donating, or recycling clothes, gadgets, papers, and other items that do not add value to your life. This will not only reduces physical clutter and mental stress, but also helps the environment. Keep only the things that you love and wear, and you’ll reduce the need for laundry, dry cleaning, repairs and will live thriftily, simply - and joyfully - with more space for things your really love.
Choose eco-friendly clothes and eco-friendly gifts. Looking for organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, or recycled fabrics is a great way to be eco-friendly and stylish. Vegan leather and sustainable wood also make good choices when thinking about the earth.
Eco-friendly and recycled accessories are a great way to save money, the planet, and stay stylish and unique. Lots of cool, eco-friendly products are available, including Engraved wood watches and wooden rings which are made of only reclaimed wood, creating minimal waste during the manufacturing processes. Adding a touch of nature-inspired beauty with engravings of your choice of words and graphics, Urban Designer watches are perfect personalized gifts to deliver your heartfelt messages of gratitude, appreciation, congratulation, holiday wishes, and love.
Increasing the efficiency of your home heating system will lower your impact on the environment. Seal cracks, gaps, and droughts with caulk, and add weather stripping or under-door “snakes” around doors and gasket covers over electrical outlets. Installing heavier or layered curtains, window insulation film, and radiator reflectors will help keep the heat in. Keep doors closed to unused rooms and closets; try to focus the heat only where you need it! Also look for eco-friendly furniture made from recycled or renewable materials.
Look for Energy Star-rated appliances like humidifiers,air conditioners, microwaves, and refrigerators and computer monitors. Switch all your light bulbs to LED and CFL. They are much more energy efficient and will last much longer. If you really want a weekend project, install solar panels for a totally renewable energy source!
Plants have many health and wellness benefits and connect us to the larger natural world around us. If cared for, will last for a long time. Choose carefully for your location (indoor or outdoor), amount of sunlight, water, nutrients, flowering, care, etc. Choose an organic fertilizer to keep your plants healthy and happy.
Of course, protecting our “stuff” on the planet by getting all the “stuff” on this list is only a start. Beyond purchasing environmentally friendly products we need to think about all aspects of our individual, family, community, and global lives and how we can live in such a way that the planet is protected.