Individual actions to help the environment

Considering the significance of the axiom “Think Globally, Work Locally, Act Personally,” the following are personal actions that we can take to contribute to the well-being of our environment and our future generations.

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Editor’s note: This column is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship. This column is repeated from the past as the message is very important and enduring. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

Considering the significance of the axiom, “Think Globally, Work Locally, Act Personally,” the following are personal actions that we can take to contribute to the well-being of our environment and our future generations. They are from “1,001 Ways to Save the Earth” by Joanna Yarrow, Beyond Green.

Buy local and seasonal — Resist the supermarket all-year-round mentality and get back in tune with local, seasonal produce. You’ll reduce the amount of air freight emissions associated with your meal, and support local farmers.

Security measure — If you leave a light on when you go away, set it on a timer and make sure you use an energy-efficient bulb.

Natural shine — Make your glass and windows cleaner by mixing a little white wine vinegar in water in a refillable plastic spray bottle. You’ll save money and avoid isopropyl alcohol, which harms aquatic life and can adversely affect the human nervous system.

Organic gold mine — More than a third of the waste put into garbage cans or a garbage disposal is compostable organic matter. Separating out materials such as vegetable and fruit peels and cardboard packaging gives you free “fuel” for a compost pile, which will generate nutrient rich matter to condition your soil and nourish your plants.

Hidden menace — The flame retardant PBDE is often used to treat furniture, carpets and clothes. This “forever chemical” is a very persistent synthetic compound that accumulates in our bodies and has been linked to hormone dysfunction. Make retailers aware of your desire to avoid this compound by asking for PBDE-free products

Does it work on bee stings — Manuka honey has great antiseptic qualities. Try using it to clean and soothe minor cuts, burns, and grazes without the need for harsh chemical creams.

Give a recycled gift — Give a friend something beautiful or unusual made from recycled materials, such as a piece of jewelry or clothing, to remind them that there is more to recycled products than just toilet paper.

Caring confetti — Rosebuds, petals, blossoms or biodegradable confetti made from recycled tissue paper bring magic to a just married moment, then dissolve quickly.

Mug’s game — Keep a mug at work for all the hot or cold drinks you need to fuel your day. You’re a busy person and you deserve better than a plastic container.

Windows across the world — The next time you have a short meeting in a far-flung location, ask yourself whether you really need to be there in person. Videoconferencing could save you a lot of time and money and avoids environmentally damaging travel.

To share any stewardship actions that you believe will be helpful for positively impacting the planet’s climate or our environment’s health, send them to Susan MacPhee of ACES at

Susan MacPhee is an ACES adviser.

This column was coordinated by ACES youth corps member Caleb Bradshaw. To share any comments or questions, send an email to To learn more about ACES and its Youth Leadership Initiative, visit

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about the author
Susan MacPhee

Susan is an ACES advisor, web designer of and drives her family and friends nuts with her devotion to recycling, composting, and saving the earth. With ACES, she finally found her voice.

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