More Things We Knew When We Were 5 Years Old

About the author: Viccy Salazar joined EPA in 1995. She works in our Seattle office on waste reduction, resource conservation and stewardship issues.

I’m back. What did you think about over the last week? Did you come up with any rules for yourself? Here are a couple more that I thought about over the week. Practicing the rules last week made me realize that it isn’t easy. But it IS doable. I just have to make it a priority. Here are a couple more rules to consider.

Take only what you need. Remember when we used to fill our plates to overflowing with our favorites foods but really were not hungry enough to eat it all? That is what I feel like we are doing to our lives with stuff. The environmental benefit of not buying something in the first place is huge. You don’t have to extract the resource, you don’t have to transport it, you don’t have to market or sell it and you don’t have to dispose of it when you are done. Always think before you buy and ask yourself if you really need it.

Do unto others. For me, this is the most important of the lessons. When I think about my everyday environmental choices, this is the lesson that hits home. I struggle every day with the balance of my ‘wants’ with what I think is right for the ‘others’ – other species, other people and most significantly, other generations. I feel I owe it to them to leave them what was left for me. To do this, I recycle, compost, take the bus, buy energy efficient appliances and all the basics and still don’t feel like I am really leaving the world as good as I got it.

So, I’ve decided “Do unto Others” is my Earth Day goal for 2008. I want to go beyond the basics and really reach for something extra to reduce my environmental impact. Some ideas I have for myself are travel less, eat more sustainable foods, use less energy and water at home, recycle more, buy less and actually track what I am doing. I know I won’t get it all right (or even all done), but I am going to try. Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how I am doing.

What have you decided to do?

Here are some ideas.

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