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!


  1. Thanks for the kick in the pants. :)

  2. Hi,
    I have been reading your blog for awhile and let me tell you I love it. I know the subject matters of our blogs are a little different, but that doesnt really take away from my appreciation of yours. I wanted to post a link to your blog on my site, would you be interested in a link exchange?
    Check it out: Http://

    Thanks so much

  3. Thank you for all of this! My favorite one is to hang your clothes out on a clothes line to dry! To think that I still do this to this day! I just wish more people would. Cause there is nothing like the smell of your clothes drying in fresh country air!
    I am off to check out Mary's blog now. TaTa...

  4. Excellent post. It actually reminds me of a Garth Brooks song:

    One hand
    Reaches out
    And pulls a lost soul from harm
    While a thousand more go unspoken for
    They say what good have you done
    By saving just this one
    It's like whispering a prayer
    In the fury of a storm

    This heart
    Still believes
    That love and mercy still exist
    While all the hatreds rage and so many say
    That love is all but pointless in madness such as this
    It's like trying to stop a fire
    With the moisture from a kiss

    As long as one heart still holds on
    Then hope is never really gone

    I hear them saying you'll never change things
    And no matter what you do it's still the same thing
    But it's not the world that I am changing
    I do this so this world we know
    Never changes me

    What I do is so
    This world will know
    That it will not change me

  5. Small things can make a difference. use the clothes line, make coffee and put it in a thermos rather than use gas everytime to remake it... there's heaps of little things.


  6. Thanks for your support! I have added you to my blogroll as well :-)

  7. I love this entry.
    A few of the things I do are:
    I save all the plastic table ware. We always have friends that stop for fast food, so I save all the plastic and reuse it when we go to the lake.
    I also go into my daughters room and steal all the half empty bottles of lotion. So many people buy them lotion and they never finish the bottle, so I use it all up for them and then recycle the container when I am done.

  8. Hope to get back and read later, but wanted to tell ya you have blog bling waiting over at my place. :)

  9. Sharing the shower is the most fun of the tips provided, and if you dry your towels on the line they will be more absorbent and will stay fresher longer. Lowe's sells a fifteen dollar retractable line that we installed in the carport.

  10. Thanks Mary! This is very inspiring :)

    Hey, Small Footprints, not so long ago, we celebrated your 100th post. Now, we would like to congratulate you on your 100th follower! Keep up the great work!

  11. haha i already do some of things. makes me feel good im helping the environment.

    is there any eco ways of keeping cool in summer? cause theres a heat wave here and i feel bad using the air con all the time.

  12. Hi Reduce Footprints,

    I've been away for quite sometime and I'm glad I'm back.

    While I want to really do my share in keeping this planet a better place to live in, I am always discouraged to see others not really caring at all. Reading your friend's write up is really inspiring.

    My share still counts a lot. It is always better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

  13. These are all great tips. I would love to bike to work but it is 32 miles one way for me:(

  14. Thank you, John ... I'm pretty excited about 103 followers! Yeah! And a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who follows this blog!!

    Angiie ... here's a link to a post I did during our summer ... I hope it helps:

    Small Footprints

  15. Back from my winter vacation and raring to blog. Gave son-in-law one of those stainless steel water bottles for Christmas. Even had his name engraved on it. I think he loved it, but trying to read his facial expression he may have wanted a wool sweater too. Oh well, maybe next year. Drop by to see my "new look" when you have a moment.

  16. Those are some great tips. Most of them I've thought about doing ... but it always seems like our big plans get too overwhelming unless we take it one step at a time as you mentioned.

    - Cesia.

  17. I sorta stumbled on your site and thought you might find the views of a not so big fan of the green movement interesting. May actually be of help to those concerned with putting the best face forward for your movement.

    First, i don't know anyone here and am in now way judging you as i simply don't know you. No personal insult is intended.

    Heres my experience with greenies i do know, and most are nice people and some good friends.

    1. The larger their footprint (home, cars, travel), the more likely they are to employ drop in the bucket symbolic gestures like recycling, light bulbs and canvas shopping bags.
    2. They have a tendency to ridicule those not interested in the whole planet saving meme, even ironically if the person being ridiculed already has a much smaller footprint than themselves.
    3. They seem to think some sort of points are in order just from the mere voicing of concern for the planet.
    4. They came from middleclass to upper middleclass or wealthy families resulting in frugality being viewed as much more of a sacrificial task than it actually is.

    Just my thoughts. Hope no offense was taken as none is intended.


  18. Hi, I found your blog through another's and so glad I came to visit. This is an excellent post and I so totally agree. I will be adding your blog to my favorites. Thank you.

  19. Small Footprints,

    Hello, Happy New Year and my sincerest apologies for my absence. I've hardly had a spare minute recently and what little I have had has been pointlessly tied down to a profitless train of through which has, as of today, been scrapped. Have since begun something which looks to be rather exciting (if bloody complicated at the moment), so hope to have the return of De Factoids in full effect by early Feb.

    Hope all is well.



  20. Hi SF and Mary C! Great post! I'm hoping to start my very own compost pile this year! :) Also, I live in TX and I have gone the entire winter without using the heater once. I think the coldest it got in my house was about 59, which was pretty cold, but my hubby is sort of like my personal portable heater, so I didn't get too cold!

  21. A big Thank You, for sure! We are constantly trying to use less and save more - selfish, I know, but our selfishness CAN be for the benefit of others! When you involve your children, it becomes a game - how can we do this differently?
    Great post!
    Thanks for becoming a follower of The Compulsive Crafter!

  22. Thank you, Mary for a well-written and very practical post.

    Lots of good suggestions here.