Perhaps I read too many articles on Flipboard, or watch too many documentaries on Netflix, and this is why I’m worried about the U.S.
Do I get antsy about the current state of things? Yes. Mos def. So little by little as the days pass, I’ve been thinking about the small moves I can make as one tiny citizen.
10 Little Things YOU Can Do
1. Buy products made locally, independently and in the USA.
Small independent stores may be a bit more expensive than chain stores, but when you purchase from a mom and pop place, you’re supporting local economic sustainability and pouring less into money-focused corporations which have proven themselves not only as financially unstable (ahem…does “government bail out” ring a bell?) but also as unconcerned with consumer health and national unemployment rates (they want to make money not jobs). Think about all the jobs that American companies give to people outside the US who work for a much cheaper wage (think of every product you buy at Target that says made in China for example). Imagine if suddenly American products became American-made; all the overseas jobs would inevitably come home (all those jobs would become available in our nation).
Additionally, to keep the money flowing at home, buy from companies that don’t keep their money over seas (for example, Bank Of America stores its money internationally to avoid paying taxes to America (ironic), among many, many others such as Apple, General Electric, Coca Cola and more.). Spend money on home-based goods, so the money stays home.
2. Drive your car less (or consider an eco-friendly car).
When someone suggests you drive your car less, it’s usually on behalf of Mother Earth or as a way to save a little money here and there. Both are excellent reasons to drive your car less, but there’s also another not-so small, yet unpopular reason: By consuming less oil, we lessen our dependency on other nations (not to mention, it will take away a little of that money which trickles down into ISIS’ hands by way of the fossil fuel industry).
Also, consider switching to an eco-friendly vehicle on your next car purchase. There are many other energy options besides fossil fuels. Why not free America from the political/social violence and pollution that dependency on fossil fuels brings us? Companies don’t have to rule our daily habits and choices. The more eco friendly we buy, the more eco friendly they will produce.
3. Avoid using the automated checkouts.
Please wait, help is on the way, the robot lady voice tells me as I wait for a CVS employee to come help me finish ringing up this box of cereal and shampoo.
Not only are automated checkouts annoying, but also they are taking away jobs. I notice there is only one CVS employee behind the register and one help attendant hanging around the automated checkout machines.
4. Use less plastic on a daily basis.
Plastic, people, is SO bad. Every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence (that’s a fact). We use so much of it and it has nowhere to go. Mother Earth is literally drowning in plastic right now. Think about how weird this is: Every piece of plastic you have ever come across will outlive you.
By using less plastic, not only are you giving Mother Earth a second to catch her breath, but also, you are using less oil. Plastic is made from oil–the same stuff that runs our cars. So, it’s not just gasoline that ties us to fossil fuels it’s also plastic! By driving less and using less plastic, we are enabling our independence from oil.
Openly talk about economic, social and environmental issues with those around you. Share the news, the facts and the tips during conversation. Start a blog. Knowledge and networking is power.
6. Grow your own fruit or vegetables (even if it’s just one little parsley plant).
So, one little tomato vine might not seem to make much of an immediate impact, but the process of caring for it does. Making ourselves a little more fluent in the language of agriculture can be very empowering. Once I made the effort to really care for the plants on my balcony, the concept of living a more self-sustaining lifestyle did not seem too far-fetched.
Once you have mastered the skill of caring for one plant, you have given yourself the power and education to potentially plant more. Even though currently I live in an apartment, after care-taking for my plants, I can’t wait to start my own compost when I do have a yard.
7. Save all the Education Box Tops you can.
My fiancé and I always save the Box Tops for Education from our cereal boxes and Progresso cans of soup. I think it shows our best side and America’s potential, meaning, I like how just by being a capitalist consumer and buying the groceries I would buy anyway, I can help our education system, even if in a tiny way.
Before you throw that empty can of soup into the recycling bin, snip off that free Box Top. Every kid’s pencil counts.
Reusing is different from recycling. With recycling, we just toss our plastics and papers into a bin and throw it on the curb for someone else to haul away for us. With reusing, you slow down the pace of producing waste that needs to be stuffed into a landfill or recycling plant. It’s naïve to think that all of our waste gets eliminated at the same pace that we produce it; in fact, it’s a complete falsity.
Even if you refill one plastic Coke bottle with water once or twice, you are still slowing down the race to waste.
Just to get you started on the reusing trend, here are some examples of how I reuse:
I have been using an empty plastic gallon of milk container for months as watering can. Instead of buying another product like a watering can, I am using a product I already paid for.
When my fiancé and I finish up a couple bottles of Kombucha, we hold on to them for a while. He uses one of those bottles to mix up and chug his protein powder shakes. You can also make it into a mixer for drinks by making a few holes in the bottle cap. Plus, not to mention, Kombucha bottles are so pretty.
We reuse the plastic bags we do have as poop baggies for the dog and as garbage bags for the trash cans. We never throw a single CVS bag out. Under our sink we have amassed quite a few, but I haven’t bought a box of garbage or poop bags for years.
Instead of buying more plastic Tupperware, save the ones you get for free from takeout (Chinese takeout has the best containers).
In a way, I can say that the Pinterest app is empowering to US citizens. Instead of buying a coffee table made in Brazil made from a gorgeous tree that used to live in the rainforest, you can buy wood produced locally or reuse palettes of wood that would normally be thrown out to make your own table (Pinterest can tell you how to make anything).
A much different approach to the DIY phenomenon is also to take the economy into your own hands. Sell your own homemade foot scrub on Etsy, or some earrings you made from shells, even perhaps the coffee table you made on craigslist. Make the products at home and bring the money home too.
I know. I know. Trust me. I know that going to vote is tough these days. Next to the fact that it’s a pretty inefficient and time-consuming system (I hate waiting in line half the day), it also seems like our choices are slim-pickins’ (I literally wonder while I’m waiting in the long line, “who do I vote for? This jack as$ or the other jackas$?).
But, alas, we must keep voting! Even if voting feels useless, it’s not. Even if our little bubble fillings do nothing, they symbolize something very big and important: maintaining citizen involvement. The process of voting itself takes a stand. We owe it to our founding pops.
I’m so pleased to announce that three of my poems, “Slots,” “Scraping” and “Make a Decision” have been published in Barking Sycamores Literary Magazine Issue 13. Barking Sycamores is dedicated to neurodivergent literature and its craft. I’m so honored to be a part of this project. Barking Sycamores Issue 13
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