You can take action to make a difference. The momentum of our lifestyle is taking our consumer-based, capitalist civilization to the brink of self-destruction through mass extinctions. Even though our DNA is hard-wired to act on short-term goals, we have the intellectual and ethical capacity to take actions for a long-term vision of a sustainable planet. We have a couple of things going for us:
- We like nature and enjoy the outdoors
- We tend to do the right thing
With several billion of us wanting a better standard of living, it is almost impossible to change the momentum. But if we nudge it a little bit here and there, maybe we can end up with a sustainable home.
Conservation Litmus Test
We make many decisions every day – what to buy at the market, how to get to work, where to take a vacation, how to use water, what to plant, and on and on. Try to get into the habit of applying the Conservation Litmus Test when you make these decisions. Every decision has several options that range from Best for Biodiversity to Worst for Biodiversity.
- Choose an option that is BETTER for the sustainability of the Earth
- It doesn’t have to be the BEST choice – just a BETTER choice
Usually the best choice is too expensive or impractical for any number of reasons, but you can almost always choose an option that is a better choice than your usual choice. For example:
You need to buy more printer paper. Here are some choices you could make:
- Do you need to print at all? Maybe electronic copies will suffice.
- Can you print on the back side of paper already used once for something else?
- Can you buy 100% recycled paper?
- Can you buy paper from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sources?
- Buy the cheapest paper available.
Most people are locked into option #5 without thinking too much about it. By applying the Conservation Litmus Test to this decision, you can move up the list to #4, #3, #2, or maybe #1 and help save forest ecosystems. The Economies of Scale guarantee that if millions or billions of us make these BETTER decisions, we’ll make a big difference. Here’s another example:
Your vehicle is worn out and needs to be replaced:
- Would a bicycle meet your needs? It is the most efficient form of transportation – even over walking.
- Can you carpool?
- How about an electric vehicle?
- Is there a hybrid available?
- Used better than new.
- A shiny new gas-guzzler.
You get the idea. When making your decisions, try to get closer to the top of the list. Sometimes after applying the Conservation Litmus Test your cost for the action will be slightly higher. Just consider the extra cost your contribution to the health of Mother Earth. She will appreciate it!
A Personal Action Plan
Here is a list of 26 action items you can use to make a difference. Try to apply the Conservation Litmus Test to each one. Try to work on one of the items for two weeks. Then keep that one going while you add a new one for the next two weeks, and so on. In a year you will have worked on all the action items and made your contribution to a sustainable planet. Share your successes with your family and friends.
- Take smaller portions; Eat less meat;
- Buy used items; Repair broken items;
- Combine trips; Use a bicycle; Take the train;
- Do an energy audit and water audit on your home;
- Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, and Re-purpose;
- Think twice before you “throw away” anything
Get Off of Chemicals
- Start a compost pile
- Plant native plants that don’t need chemicals
- Use biodegradable cleansers
- Find natural alternatives
Buy Local Goods and Services
- Shop farmer’s markets and food co-ops
- Avoid imported, exotic pets and plants
- Buy goods made in USA, your state, or your town
- Support local artists and craftspeople
- Visit a wetland, prairie, river, lake, or forest
- Support local parks, trails, and wild areas
- Put away the electronics and play outside
- Go for a walk, jog, hike or bike ride
- Enjoy State and National Parks
- Take up gardening and grow some of your own food
- Get your kids and grandkids excited about nature
Find Your Own Niche
- Support one or more conservation organizations
- Join a Citizen Science project like Frog Watch USA
- Create a diverse habitat in your yard and neighborhood
- Volunteer and share your enthusiasm
- Vote for short term needs AND long term conservation