Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's All About the Little Things

During the holiday season, which for me is stressful more often than not, I find it useful to change my perspective and look at the big picture. Most years, this means reminding myself that no matter how much my family members irritate me (after too much time spent in close quarters), I still love them, and even though I have to travel pretty far to be with them, I'm still glad to be in good company over the holidays. This year however, I switched my mindset in a new way: I muted the voice inside my head that rants and raves about the poor decisions made by the government (you know, the usual, policies that will cause harm to human and environmental health). What did I pay attention to instead? The little things!

Over the past week I experienced small moments of delight whenever I noticed a simple action taken by my family members to reduce their environmental footprint and protect their health. Take for instance my mom, who saves water every time she takes a shower. As you can see in the photo above, she keeps large juice bottles in the bathroom so that she can fill them with the cold water that runs out of the tap before the hot water makes its way from the heater in the basement to the shower on the second floor. Later, she uses the juice bottles to fill a watering can which she uses on her indoor plants. Brilliant!

There were little things of a green nature in my brother and sister-in-law's home, too, like organic milk. Keeping pesticide-laden feed, copious amounts of antibiotics, and unnecessary synthetic growth hormones away from dairy farms means healthier cows, healthier humans, fewer superbugs, and a safer environment. My brother also attached his indoor Christmas lights to a timer so that they wouldn't run all night, and my sister-in-law told me the car sits unused for one or two weeks at a time. In the kitchen I found dish soap containing only natural fragrances and no phthalates. The list goes on!

I received some great eco-friendly gifts, too, like a bottle opener made from post-consumer materials that is completely recyclable, an energy-efficient electric blanket that will let me turn my thermostat even lower than I already do overnight, and a teflon-free rice cooker made of stainless steel in a double-boiler configuration. At a time of year marked by unnecessary consumption, excessive gift-wrapping, food waste, and high carbon emissions from extensive travelling, it was an absolute pleasure to delight in these lovely things.

What green actions does your family engage in? What green products did you receive as gifts?


  1. Well said. Even though I hate when others of judgmental of my lifestyle, I am hypocritical and tend to criticize others when they don't appear to be curbing their environmentally destructive ways. On closer look, many people out there are Eco-conscious in small ways, whether they're doing it purposefully for not. Take my dad for example: it frustrates me that he drives a SUV, but I have to remind myself that he doesn't put many miles on it and rarely drives it outside of a 20-mile radius.

    I only received one gift this year- some locally made baking mixes. I think giving local products is a great idea.

  2. Exactly! There are plenty of environmentally friendly actions out there, and I cherish them even when they're not done consciously, because every little bit helps. And yay for the local baking mixes. A practical, edible, thoughtful gift that also supports the local economy. Great!

  3. Sounds like a good holiday and a good frame of mind. Happy 2012.

  4. What a great mindset to have-being thankful and noticing all the small actions taken by others. I'm always thankful when a family member comments on a blog post or something green they learned and then decides to make a change in their life. My eco-friendly gift this year was to receive nothing! The best gift of all is sharing time together over the holidays with family and friends.

    Happy, healthy New Year! Looking forward to reading more good, green stuff from you in 2012.

  5. Melissa - Happy 2012 to you, too! Let's hope the coming year contains less plastic. :)

  6. Lori - Receiving nothing is the greenest of all, hurray! Glad to hear you got to spend quality time with loved ones. Happy New Year!

  7. thanks its a nice information for everyone health every person on the globe suffering from the same disease. thanks again.