We often associate kindness with how we treat other people, but our planet does so much for us, and we don’t always recognize it or return the favor – the earth deserves our kindness, too.
If we take into account all the interconnected ways the environment is impacted by our actions, there are plenty of pathways toward showing appreciation for the earth and giving something back to the planet that does so much for us.
1. Be more energy-efficient at home.
Making your home or apartment more energy-efficient doesn’t necessarily mean you need to invest in the latest and greatest smart home or eco-friendly gadgets. There are easy ways to save energy in your home by being a little more mindful. Think about ways you use power, particularly during the summer months. Take advantage of the longer days and keep the lights off, using the abundant daylight instead. Wash clothes in cold water, and hang-dry your clothes on a line or a balcony to save the energy on dryer use.
Hand wash and air dry your dishes instead of using the energy and heat to power your dishwasher. Turn down your water heater thermostat for the times you do need to use hot water, such as for showers (which, incidentally, save more energy than taking a bath).
2. Get greener.
If you own your property, try planting shrubs, bushes, or trees to help insulate the area around your house naturally. Trees will provide shade to your home, which helps cut down on cooling costs, and they provide another protective environment and food source for birds. Check garden websites in your region to find your plant heartiness zone for the best options for greenery. If you don’t own your property, get permission from your town or city to plant trees in your community!
3. Get growing.
Speaking of planting things, growing your own vegetables and flowers is a great way to be kind to the earth, its creatures, and yourself. Having your own source for salads can cut down on trips to the grocery store, saving the gas and energy it takes to get there, not to mention the energy involved in harvesting, packaging and transporting store-bought vegetables. Fresh veggies from your garden are healthier than frozen or canned ones. Growing a garden also is a great project for kids, who love to see their efforts bear fruit, so to speak. Flower gardens that attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies are becoming more vital every day as habitats disappear. Plus, growing your own flowers is a lovely way to add something special for your home or provide a gift to a lonely neighbor – another layer of kindness.
4. Get thrifty.
Need new clothes? Think before you buy. Landfills are filling with textiles from fast fashion. Consider the true cost of that inexpensive top or skirt – will the item last, or is it designed to produce a quick profit? Think about where it comes from and who made the garment. Is the clothing company paying workers a fair wage, and are they working in safe conditions? Where was it produced, and what is the environmental cost of transporting it to you?
Thrift stores or secondhand shopping sites such as ThredUp are a good alternative when you need or want new items, and they’re the best way to ensure your unwanted fashions gain new life. Many thrift shops are connected with charities that fund programs for people in need. Taking a local sewing class or searching YouTube tutorials can be a great way to learn the basics of clothing repair, upcycling, or making your own designs.
If you have the means, consider shopping for clothing from companies that sell Fair Trade items, which are designed around paying workers a living wage and often source fabrics that are produced sustainably. Additionally, think about simplifying your fashion so that what you wear never goes out of style.
5. Invest in some home repairs.
Some home repairs and upgrades can help prevent the loss of heat, cooling, and energy. If you have an HVAC system, make sure it’s working to its optimal efficiency meaning, have a professional check for leaks and proper insulation in the ductwork. If you have a chimney, make sure energy isn’t escaping through it by closing the damper or sealing it with a chimney balloon. Attics should be insulated.
Finding ways to be kinder to our planet is all about taking a look at our daily habits and making sure we’re mindful of how we’re consuming resources. Taking action where we can – no matter how small it might seem – goes a long way in creating kindness.