Guest post by Valerie Comer
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the state of the planet? You turn on the television news, and poverty peers back at you. Read the paper, and terrorism attacks from the pages. Check your twitter feed, and a new international disaster-of-the-week comes to light. Add in human slavery, peak oil, genetically modified foods–the list goes on–and the tilt-a-whirl of insanity gains momentum.
Why do I need to know about all these troubles? What can I do about any of it? Not much. I’m a middle-aged wife, mother, and grandmother who lives on a farm in western Canada. I have no degrees behind my name. I’m not on the board of a major corporation. I’m not a politician, movie star, or public figure. Sure, I can sign petitions but, all in all, my sphere of influence is very small.
Am I the only one who gets overwhelmed? I don’t think so. It’s very common to feel insignificant. Our human response is one of two things: block it out and keep doing what we were doing because it doesn’t make a difference anyway, or curl up in a ball of depression and rock back and forth with our eyes closed.
I have good news, though. What you do does matter. There’s a middle ground between apathy and despair. It’s where we take a realistic look at our situation and make our part of the world, even if it’s just our house and yard, a better place. The impact may not be apparent ten miles from home, but it’s still worthwhile. At the very least, your family is healthier than they were. Isn’t that a huge benefit?
And if you do change your family’s impact on the planet, I guarantee someone else will notice. Your neighbors and friends may ask questions. . .and they may join you. Even an ordinary person like you and me can cause ripples that rock other people’s boats.
What choices can you make?
1. Choose local food when it’s available. There are lots of options here, from growing a garden, to preserving local bounty, to cooking and baking with real ingredients. How about supporting your local farmers’ market? The supermarket may not notice the loss of your purchases, but your family will gain health, and that’s worth a lot.
2. Choose to support local businesses wherever possible. Help your neighbors earn a living and keep their shops open.
3. Choose quality over quantity in your purchases. Invest in products that will last. Resist the impulse to buy junk for gag gifts.
4. Choose to drive the most economical vehicle you can afford–and then use it as little as possible. Group your errands, car pool, and ride your bike when you can.
5. Choose to reduce dependency on finite natural resources. Switching off your lights, turning down your thermostat, and adding insulation to your home are all good places to start–and will save you money–but do something fun, too. Why not get started with solar cooking? It isn’t expensive or difficult but has positive global benefits.
6. Choose the 5 Rs: Reduce, Reduce, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Did you notice the stuttering? (grin) Reducing what you buy (and often discard) is far more valuable than recycling. Think how much peace a clutter-free home can bring you.
You may not be able to change the world, but you can do plenty to impact your little corner of it. Your choices do make a difference. What will you choose?
Valerie Comer is an author and blogger at the intersection of food, faith, and fiction. She and her husband of over 30 years farm, garden, and keep bees on a small farm in Western Canada, where they grow much of their own food, preserving vast amounts of it by canning, freezing, and dehydrating. She believes taking good care of both the planet and her family is an act of worship and thankfulness to God the Creator. Valerie writes contemporary romantic fiction as a natural offshoot of her passions. To find out more, visit her website and subscribe to her blog. If you join her newsletter list, you’ll receive a bonus download Seasons from My Kitchen with ideas and recipes for seasonal local eating. Join her journey!