On a dreary, cold and wet January morning, I walked into the Indiana State Museum to a sea of engaged, passionate students and proud educators and community leaders. These young activists were patiently waiting for Mayor Hogsett to acknowledge their sustainably-minded efforts and award them the funding to implement their green projects at their schools. While I was there to represent Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, what I walked away with was more than I could have expected.
I have to admit, I’ve been a bit of a “Debbie Downer” in regards to how our society is treating the ultimate Queen: Mother Earth. When I scroll through social media, my timeline is inundated with depressing photos and memes like this huge mass of plastic floating in the Caribbean Sea, or the whale who had 1,000+ pieces of plastic in its belly, or the ever-famous turtle with a straw in his nose. Most recently, it was this “10 Year Challenge” post that had me feeling a certain type of way.
Siiiigh, I could go on and on… BUT, thank you to the students from 50 different Indianapolis schools present at the Mayor’s Thriving Schools Challenge announcement for restoring my faith in humanity. Now, you might think that’s a bit of hyperbole: “Restored your faith in humanity?! Girl, chill.” But in all seriousness, these students, ranging from kindergarteners (6-year-olds, you guys!) to high schoolers, showed me that I am not alone in this overwhelming climate crisis. Their projects range from growing school gardens to combat food insecurity, installing motion light-sensors to decrease energy consumption and creating recycling programs in school cafeterias. One school is even installing air quality monitors around their drop off/pick up line that will broadcast data to bring awareness and reduce students’ exposure to toxic vehicle exhaust. These young students formed committees, held meetings, assessed the needs and problems at their schools, brainstormed solutions and created plans to make a change. Children truly are our future and it is because of them, the students I saw on that cold January morning at the State Museum, that I can calm my anxieties. Not only are these young environmental activists making change now, but they will soon grow up and become our politicians, our scientists, our inventors, our educators, and most importantly, our leaders.
But until then, we all need to chip in, at least a little and do our own part in saving the planet. I know we’ve all been told a million times to help the environment by bringing a reusable cloth tote to the grocery store or asking the server to skip the straw (seriously you guys, that frickin’ turtle!!). But, here are a few things other things I encourage you to consider:
- Eat less meat, specifically red meat.
- Reuse ziplock baggies.
- Yes, I’m THAT person who washes out our gallon size plastic bags and hangs them on my knife block to dry and reuse. We also use reusable options like these for lunches.
- Buy tampons that don’t have a plastic applicator.
- Each year, millions of applicators make their way to the landfill (or in the ocean, where they might break down and get eaten by fish…which then might get eaten by us, humans…). There, cardboard applicators will decompose at a much faster rate than their plastic counterpart. Or better yet, by applicator-free choices. Or if you really feel like going above and beyond, consider an option like THINX.
- Invest in reusable k-cups.
- I got 4 for less than $10 on Amazon. Also, did you know you can take your used Nespresso pods to the Nespresso pop up store in Keystone Fashion Mall? They send them to a company that recycles the used pods into things like pens and accessories.
- Get clothes (especially for kids!) second-hand.
- I’ve been lucky enough to score the majority of L’s clothes as hand-me-downs friends and family. eBay is also a great option, especially for things like shoes and outerwear. And of course, check on Facebook for marketplace deals. Shout out to FB’s Indy Midtown Swaparoo community for helping clothe and entertain my toddler for the past two years!
Regardless of how much or how little you do, it’s that you’re doing something to help that matters. And even more so when little eyes are watching you as their little brains are starting to form values and habits. Cheers to doing our part in saving our planet!