What To Do? Oh, What To Do?


A man was throwing starfish caught by the tide back into the sea. When asked why saving one starfish out of hundreds stranded on the beach mattered, he replied, “It matters to that one.”

Apologies to Loren Eisley, The Star Thrower

Climate change, peak oil, recession/depression, bacteria in foods, pharmaceuticals in drinking water, ozone depletion, obesity, wars in the Mideast, bird flu, dying oceans, furloughs. Could it be that we face the biblical “end of days?”

To tell you the truth, I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve got bills to pay, errands to run, chores and work to do, family to take care of; you know, living.

Reading a lot about these issues, and caring deeply about many of them, I still have to get up in the morning and get on with it all, somehow. What do we do; we who care, but aren’t likely to change the world single-handedly?

Here’s a list based on what I’ve learned from books, from other media, and from friends:

1. Don’t panic. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy got it right. Keep your eye on the long term.

2. Recycle or reuse what you can. Compost. Donate or sell those things you don’t need or use anymore. (For example, this article is full of pre-owned ideas that I’m now reusing.)

3. Support your local charities, particularly those that provide family and community services. Focus on those that produce results you can see.

4. Get involved in local community activities, politics or community services. Be a part of your community.

5. Buy locally. Support local businesses or you’ll find that they go away. Buy local food and goods to the extent practical. (Okay, it is hard to find good, locally-grown bananas in Colorado most of the year)

6. Reduce the energy you use in your home and office (say by 10% if you need a goal). Education about energy use is easy to come by, and a little attention to detail goes a long way. (Your Dad was right, “Are you trying to heat the whole neighborhood? Close that door!”)

7. Reduce your gasoline use (say by 10% if you need a goal). Walk, bike or skateboard locally. Look into commuting options. Combine trips for more efficiency. Again, information is easy to come by.

8. Have one meatless day a week. This saves energy, reduces environmental damage and is probably good for your health (each a compelling reason that will easily sway your teenager).

9. Plant a tree. If you can, put a deciduous tree on the south side of your building (shade in the summer- sun in the winter), and an evergreen on the north side (to block the winter wind). Use native plants where practical. (See Item 1 about the long term.)

10. Use water wisely. Clean water is a gift; appreciate it and treat it gently.

11. Be a good citizen. Vote and serve on a jury when it’s your turn.

12. Get on with your life. Do what you do, change what you can. Live well and be happy.

There are pile and piles of information available on any one of these issues. You can dig as deep or as lightly as you want. Maybe you’ll come up with a different, better list than this. If you can and want to do more, certainly you should.

Will this help? Who knows, but if it helps our world even a little, and helps you with Item 1, then lets try it for a while. It may not change The World, but maybe it will change yours, Starfish.

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