advice

5 (More) Easy Ways to Save the World

A few months ago for Earth Day, I posted this blog that listed 5 ways we could all lend a hand in the rescue of our damsel in distress planet. Today, I come to you with 5 more! Let’s dive right in!

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1) Say no to straws

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Straws are one of the most wasteful plastics out there. If you think about it, you use a straw for about 10-15 minutes (or 5 minutes, if you’re like me and have a binge-sipping problem) and then you throw it away, never to be used again. According to Ecocycle.org about 500 million straws are used EVERY DAY which is enough to fill 127 school buses EVERY DAY. Those straws then end up in a landfill and eventually the ocean where they break down into particles marine life mistake as food. Good news is, we are—as were generations upon generations before us—completely and totally capable of enjoying our beverages sans straw. OR if you prefer to live the straw life, there are tons of reusable straws out there calling your name (like these ones!)

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2) Use a cloth makeup remover

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One of my favorite parts of the day is getting home from work and wiping my makeup off—and taking my pants off, but that’s beside the point—and for a long time I used both big name and knock-off brands of makeup wipes to accomplish this afternoon feat. However, I recently started using a reusable cloth makeup remover (which I got for super cheap on Amazon) and it has worked better than anything else I’ve ever bought before. PLUS, as an added bonus, it creates no trash, it only uses water so it can never dry out, and it can be washed with a load of towels to start anew every couple weeks! I think this is what you call a win win win.

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3) Recycle

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I know, this one seems obvious. How long have we been told to recycle? And yet, how long have we not been recycling to our fullest potential?! Recently I came to the end of a bottle of face wash and out of habit, I chucked it in the trash, then opened the new bottle I bought at the store. I’d just got back from my trip to Hawaii where I learned a lot about new and easy lifestyle changes that benefit the environment, so after a few minutes, I reached down and pulled the bottle out of the trash, turned it over and found the familiar black-universal-recycling-symbol_267b symbol. An immediate pit formed in my stomach. I’d been throwing away these bottles for years! This got me thinking, how many other things have I not been recycling correctly? So, next time you’re getting ready to throw something away, double check the label. If you find this guy: black-universal-recycling-symbol_267b, throw it in with the recycling.

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4) Shop & Upcycle

Another thing I was shocked to recently find out is that the fashion industry is one of the most wasteful in the world. An article published on Ecowatch.com stated that in 2015 it was the second dirtiest industry in the world, outmatched only by big oil. Can you imagine?! But while suppliers in the fashion industry are taking a variety of steps to reduce their carbon footprint, we can help right now, by both shopping at our local donation houses such as Goodwill or Salvation Army and/or upcycling old clothes into something new.

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One of my goals for 2017 is to make this DIY rug with old jeans, which is just one of thousands of other projects floating around Pinterest and the like. So even though it is an amazing thing to donate clothes and I am in no way saying to stop, it is also the sad truth that thousands of pounds of old clothes are ending up in landfills. All I’m saying is it can’t hurt to do some research, or to spend a few hours perusing Pinterest, or to stop by your local donation house as a customer once in a while. There are always some great finds to be found.

 

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5) Pick up trash

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One of my favorite things about my cousin a.k.a the female Indiana Jones a.k.a the leader of our weeklong adventure in Hawaii, Alison, is that she practices what she preaches. Being an environmentalist who has literally swam through trash to showcase the malpractice of human waste, you’d think that she must take extra care in, well, taking care of the earth in her own day to day life, and I’m happy to report she does! In the week I spent with her in Hawaii I saw her collect trash off the beach and put it in her backpack and I sat buckled in the back seat as she pulled the car over to collect cans rolling down the side of the road. At first I was a little shocked, thinking, woah, she’s really putting in some extra work here. But then I started to realize that while yes, it might have taken a couple extra seconds out of her day, it wasn’t actually hard. And if we all lent a few extra seconds each day to get some trash to a trashcan or recycling bin, our world could be a much prettier and cleaner place.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of What Other People Think We Need

Like the skills required to dissect a frog, there are many lessons from my K-12 education that I’ve found a way to forget. However, there are also those I can’t help but remember: Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, the symbol for silver on the periodic table, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Often showcased in a pyramidal diagram, Maslow’s theory recognizes the 5 essential needs of the individual, starting at the bottom with the most essential: physiological (i.e. food and water), and working its way up to safety (i.e. health and home), love/belonging (i.e. friendship and intimacy), esteem (i.e. acceptance and self-respect), and self-actualization (i.e. the understanding and achieving of one’s full potential). The needs are ranked on importance, assuming an individual cannot obtain higher, more complex needs before first satisfying the most basic. For example, an individual with a consistent supply of food and water would focus on their need for health and home, and only after those needs were met would they worry about friendship and intimacy. Simply put: One only feels the need for something when they have the time and resources to realize they need it.

Learning about Maslow’s theory in high school fascinated me. It made such sense and seemed so obvious. However, I quickly came to learn how far people tend to stray from its logicality.

After I graduated college, every conversation I had was based on my future plans. Did I have a husband yet? Did I have a career path? Was I going to become successful?

There I was a well-fed, well housed, and well-loved human being, proud of myself for pursuing and completing a formal degree and beginning to consider my full potential. I was reaching the peak of Maslow’s pyramid, drowning in the plenty, and yet my peers only identified what I lacked. Granted, there is a large difference between motivation and criticism, and I know that many questions came with good intentions and genuine support. They wanted me to be hungry for more, and I was, I just didn’t know quite what I was craving.

In today’s society, with the constant presence of social media, the discovery of what one lacks is an everyday occurrence. Be it a job, a significant other, or a bikini body, individuals yearn for what they lack without realizing the wealth in what they have that allows them to do so.

We all impose our own hierarchies, both in our lives and those of others around us, setting standards for what we believe a person needs in order to be x. (x being successful, happy, of value, etc.) But who can truly determine a level of success and happiness besides the person in question? Who is a better gage of our wealth than we who live off of its riches?

Maslow’s theory works under the simple assumption that we are all humans with needs and some of us will thrive where others lack. And while time and self-growth will continue to morph our own hierarchies, it is important to look back at Maslow’s original 5, appreciating the most basic and essential needs we have met that allow us to focus on the deeper and more complex. For with a basis of gratefulness, we can create a healthy hunger for progression, not only in our own hierarchy but also in those around us.