Ideas For Treading More Lightly on the Earth

You may not have had the opportunity yet to see that I’ve totally revamped Crossing Nebraska’s Contents page. Please take a few moments to explore it here if you so choose. The various categories that I’ve created will make it easier to find topics that are of interest to you. I’ll be adding hotlinks shortly in order to make navigation even easier.

In going through this process it occurred to me that I’ve written quite a few posts that in some way encourage the reader to tread more lightly on the earth. Whether more generally related to living simply and sustainably, or more specifically related to the human-caused threat of climate change, these posts all encourage mindful living for the benefit of ourselves and all living beings. For a time I had a separate blog page detailing specific things that I’m doing or have done in order to tread more lightly on the earth. I’m updating that page and republishing it here since the new Contents page will make it so much easier to find. I’m also including things that I’d like to do, or things that others are doing but which I can’t find the time or money or energy for right now. In this way, this post will provide many more suggestions and ideas for possible action. Here goes:

Ideas For Treading More Lightly on the Earth


  • Consider a vegetarian diet. Eating lower on the food chain requires fewer resources, in addition to being healthier and minimizing the suffering caused to animals. If you can’t embrace a totally vegetarian diet at the present time, try minimizing the quantity of meat that you do eat. Our protein needs can be met by eating a lot less meat than is present in the average American diet. If you decide to eat more seafood in lieu of red meat, be mindful of environmental pressures on individual species. If you decide to eat more chicken and turkey instead of red meat, be mindful of the environmental and ethical issues involved in factory farming. Consider free-range chicken and turkey instead.
  • Shop at the local farmer's market in order to support local and regional agriculture. Doing so minimizes fuel-related shipping costs and eschews big agribusiness for the sake of supporting individual growers and small businesses.
  • Purchase unprocessed or less highly processed foods. Doing so makes more intimate our relationship with food and the earth from which it comes. This fosters greater understanding of and appreciation for that which sustains us. Which in turn leads to our making wiser and more sustainable choices. It also requires less energy.
  • Stay away from bottled water if you can. Often there is no appreciable quality difference between bottled and tap water. The manufacture and shipping of bottled water is extremely wasteful, and the plastic may even be unhealthy.


  • Try composting your kitchen waste for use in the garden. In addition to nurturing the soil it is a regular reminder of the processes that sustain us.
  • Forego municipal leaf collection in order to compost on-site, thereby replenishing the soil and decreasing fuel used during the collection process.
  • Consider returning paved areas to the earth. This allows more rainwater to soak back into the earth, in addition to it acting as a carbon sink and providing habitat for local fauna.
  • Plant trees! They can reduce your cooling costs by shading your house, and they also act as a carbon sink.
  • Plant a vegetable garden. It will provide you with healthy food without any shipping costs. And it will give you healthy exercise and a greater appreciation of the earth.
  • Maintain a spiritual practice that keeps you centered, fosters greater awareness, and makes you better able to make healthy decisions for yourself and the planet. Stress prompts us to act in ways that are detrimental to ourselves and the environment – whether by prompting us to eat in unhealthy ways, to act in uncaring ways, or otherwise making it easier to view ourselves as separate from the earth that sustains us.
  • Take time to appreciate the peace and beauty of the natural world around you. You will be reminded of your connection to it.

Organization and Awareness Raising

  • Consider a political candidate's environmental stance when determining how to vote.
  • Become informed about simplicity, sustainability, climate change, deep ecology and other environmental issues. Check out books such as Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin, or the resources offered by the Northwest Earth Institute, for instance.
  • Sign petitions related to environmental ballot initiatives.
  • Support local and national environmental organizations.
  • Lobby your political representatives.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Repurpose

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with higher efficiency ones. Invest in low-wattage LED bulbs for those fixtures you have lit most often – like porch lights.
  • Consider moving towards a simpler lifestyle – one that requires less energy and fewer material goods in order for you to get your necessary chores done and enjoy your leisure time. Do you need all of those electrified gadgets? Does your entertainment and recreation really require you to expend so much energy and resources? What is really necessary for your happiness and fulfillment?
  • Learn of ways that you can donate leftover paint, construction materials, and home maintenance items to charity. For instance, the Habitat for Humanity ReStores are a great place to donate leftover items and help a great cause at the same time.
  • Find a resale shop that will find happy new owners for all of your unnecessary knick-knacks, tchotchke, and underappreciated remembrances.
  • Donate unused clothing in order to help someone else save their hard-earned dollars even as you keep resources from being wasted.
  • Take advantage of your community recycling program. Consider organizing a workplace recycling program if you don’t already have one.
  • Take advantage of special collections for electronics, batteries, chemicals, etc.
  • Consider product life-cycle and packaging waste when making purchasing decisions.
  • Use public transportation when feasible. Walk, bicycle, and share rides. Efficiently plan the running of errands so as to minimize fuel usage.
  • Considering owning your automobile for longer than has been your habit if it is still dependable and reasonably fuel efficient. I strive to get ten or more years out of any new vehicle I buy.
  • Determine what you really need to be comfortable. For instance, in winter I keep the thermostat at 63 F at night and when I am away, and 65 F during the day. I wear a sweater if need be. Sometimes I build a fire in the fireplace in order keep the thermostat lower. I usually have enough firewood from pruning the trees on my own property. I utilize passive solar energy to heat my home by opening the shades of south facing windows during the day.
  • In summer I keep the thermostat at 83 F whenever I have the central AC on – higher if I’ll be away for an extended period. I utilize a window AC unit in my bedroom at night prior to the weather becoming so consistently hot as to require turning on the whole-house unit. I keep the house cooler by closing the shades of south facing windows during the day.
  • Collect the cold bathwater in a bucket prior to it being warm enough to begin showering. This yields enough water to flush the toilet, water a few plants, or fill the birdbath.
  • Think of ways to be more efficient with cooking water. Steam vegetables as you’re boiling potatoes, for instance. Then use the waste water to soak the dishes prior to washing them.
  • Collect tap water in a watering can prior to it getting warm enough for washing dishes. Fill the basin just enough to wash the smaller items and let the rinse water fill it up the rest of the way so that you can wash the larger bowls, pots, etc.
  • Consider installing a rainwater collection system in order to help water the garden.
  • Consider planting perennials that don’t require as much water, and which will reduce the amount of lawn you have to mow.
  • Wash and reuse plastic sandwich bags and utilize bread bags and such for storing produce.
  • Use durable shopping bags. Use any other plastic bags that might accumulate for trashcan liners.

I hope you find this list helpful. Share it with a friend. And add a few more to it when you do!


Earthrise by NASA via:

Copyright 2016 by Mark Robert Frank


Popular posts from this blog

Six Types of Happiness in Hesse's 'Journey to the East'

The Heart Sutra and the Five Aggregates (Part 2 of 5)

Beginning Anew