Monday, January 26, 2009

One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind…

As I promised you on Friday, today we have a guest author who shares her thoughts with us and offers hope for the health of our planet. Mary from Something About MaryC, has a wonderful blog. On Fridays she shares frugal tips ... they are always easy to do, creative and almost always green. If you've never been to her site, I suggest you stop over ... I'm sure you'll enjoy it! A big THANK YOU to Mary for this post. OK ... here we go:

One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind…

It was considered unlikely that a man could walk on the moon in 1959, the year I was born. By the summer of 1969, the USA had three men on the moon. What does this have to do with a Small Footprints Blog? In 1959, walking on the moon couldn't be done. Ten years later, it happened. I’m thinkin’ that cleaning up our planet could work the same way.

Today, in good old 2009, it seems a daunting task to reverse all the damage done over decades of disregard for the impact on our planet. It might even seem so large an endeavor that you say, ‘Why bother?’ Why should we work so hard to recycle when our neighbors aren’t recycling? Why should we drive less when there are thousands of other people still driving everywhere? Why bother composting when you can buy perfectly good compost at Home Depot? Why bother, I am just one person and one person isn’t going to change the world.


If you don’t believe me, just look back in time. One person can make a great deal of difference. Christopher Columbus, Abe Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Neil Armstrong, Lance Armstrong, and now, President Barack Obama, just to name a few. (Don’t hate me because I can’t get past American History.)

What would happen if one person recycled ONE water bottle every day? The obvious result is 365 water bottles per year that wouldn’t make it to a landfill. In ten years, that would be 3650 water bottles that didn’t make it to a landfill. That’s pretty good.

But MaryC, you ask, what’s in this for Me? Some of you must have seen the “It’s all about ME” bumper sticker on my car, huh? Well, let’s examine the ME Factor to this equation.

What if you purchased a $20 stainless steel water bottle? You fill it with fresh water from the tap (filtered if you must) and didn’t recycle a single water bottle? Watch what happens:

You save $345 the first year if your paid $20 for the stainless bottle and you average $1 per bottle of water. In ten years you saved $3630. Could you use $3630? Hmmm, I ‘m thinkin’ yes.

If you are a family of four, and you recycle a water bottle each day for each family member, that’s 1460 bottles in one year and 14,600 in ten years that didn’t make it to a landfill.

If you purchase a $20 stainless steel water bottle for each family member, it gets better. You save $14,520 in ten years. You aren’t sending water bottles to the landfill which reduces the space needed for waste. There is no energy or resources used to make the plastic for the water bottle. The demand for plastic bottled water is reduced. The energy to recycle the water bottle is not used. And the energy used by you to save the earth is ZERO. You did nothing beyond getting a reusable water bottle and yet, look at how much it mattered to the earth AND your bottom line. Are you feelin’ me here?

I think we all sometimes get overwhelmed by the all or nothing mantra of some environmentalists. There are so many things and so much information that it gets confusing. Some changes are hard or inconvenient. Sometimes the world at large makes us feel guilty because we aren’t ‘green’ enough.

I am going to go out on a limb here and tell you this:

“Don’t should on yourself.”

Instead, do one thing. I know one thing seems like nothing but re-read the beginning of this post. See? One thing IS something. After you get comfy with one thing, give another thing a try. Keep picking one thing at a time until you are greener than Ed Begley, Jr.

Saving the planet doesn’t mean cleaning the whole thing in one day. It didn’t take one day to get here and it won’t take one day to go back. But one day is a beginning, a very fine place to start.

Here are a few ideas with the ME Factor included to help you get motivated:

  • Plant a square foot or container garden (save on your grocery bill)

  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones (buy fewer paper products)

  • Buy or make your own environmentally friendly cleaners (makes breathing easier and cleaner water)

  • Walk places when you can (save on gas and car maintenance – added bonus of fat burning)

  • Use reusable containers for lunches (no more plastic bags to buy)

  • Try eating Vegan once or twice a week (veggies are cheaper than meat – bonus of fewer calories)

  • Dry a load of laundry on a clothesline each week (save on gas or electricity)

  • Cook in a crock pot or microwave. (use less power so save on utilities)

  • Turn down the thermostat and wear a sweater (save on gas for money to buy cozy sweaters)

  • Fix broken items instead of replacing them (save money by not replacing things unless necessary)

  • Borrow instead of buy tools (save money and storage space)

  • Use the Library instead of purchasing books (if you love reading, this savings alone could pay for college)

  • Bike to work when weather permits (save gas and wear & tear on your auto – bonus fat burner)

  • Shower with a friend (I had to see if you were paying attention)

Happy greening.



Another big THANK YOU to Mary for this wonderful article. And as always ... I'd love to hear from you!