Going green doesn’t happen overnight.
My quest for cleaner water, food, and ultimately a cleaner planet, has been a gradual shift. I remember drinking tap water like it was going out of style.
Once, while overseas and far from civilization, I am ashamed to say that I drank water from an unfamiliar river. And I’d heard of recycling, of course, but in the frenzy of work, social engagements and other obligations, who had time?
Through the years, however, the facts have begun to add up. We now have evidence that plain tap water sometimes contains unwanted elements such as traces of prescription drugs. It is the same for food.
Someone challenged me years ago to read the labels of everything I buy. I was mainly searching for excessive amounts of carbohydrates and fats, but I soon discovered that most processed food is made with lots of artificial ingredients. It means that we are ingesting things that our maker never intended for us to eat, and our bodies cannot digest them properly.
Once, while shopping for pre-packaged oatmeal, I became frustrated that it took me a fairly long time to find a brand that read “all natural.”
I don’t eat organic food all the time, but I do currently look for all-natural basics like meats, milk, eggs and sometimes apples and carrots. Fortunately many grocery stores are making these options available. I am trying to cook more whole foods rather than the quicker, less satisfying alternatives.
I now filter my water. I still love my snacks, but ironically, have found that some chips and sweets aren’t made with preservatives of any kind and are more nutritionally dense than certain brands of cereal.
Though recycling has been pushed for decades, I did not actively engage in it until recently. It began with my newspapers, and then I decided to try plastics. I work to make it easy. I put a paper bag on my back porch and when I consume juices, I toss the plastics bottles in the bag.
When that’s full, I dump it into a container in my garage. When that spills over onto the floor, I take it to the recycling center. Again, it is imperfect, and sometimes I throw away items I could recycle, but the point is that now I am consciously trying to recycle when possible.
I’ve also noticed that I own quite a collection of colorful and sturdy cloth bags that I have gathered from conferences and special mail offers. I remembered seeing people shop with these types of bags at health-food stores. I decided to try. I’ll have to admit, it was a little embarrassing to hand my bags to the Wal-Mart cashier to fill up. She simply smiled and obliged me graciously.
Again, this is hit or miss. When I remember to use my cloth bags, especially for quick, small purchases, I feel a sense of accomplishment. When I forget, I don’t worry about it.
And that’s what I’ve learned. We must toss out the all-or-nothing thinking. If we can just do better than we did a year ago, that is wonderful progress. Caring for our bodies and our planet starts with the gradual raising of our awareness and taking baby steps toward changing old habits.
As always, it is about love: loving this green, beautiful planet, loving health and well-being, and loving to do our part to make the world a little better for all of us.