1. DON'T HAVE MORE CHILDREN THAN YOU OR THE WORLD CAN SUPPORT
The chart above shows how much the human population has grown in the past 10,000 years. This is really scary when you see how much the population has exploded in just the last 100 years.
It is the most basic and fundamental desire of all life forms to keep their species alive and thriving, and having big families has traditionally been the best way for us to do that, however, when you become more aware of just how rapidly the human population is growing, and the destructive toll that we as a species are having on the Earth you start to realize that one of the best ways to help ensure that the human race will live on and be healthy would actually be for us to start having less children.
The human population can not (and will not) keep expanding indefinitely at the rate that it currently is. (If it did there would be over 100 billion people in the world in less than 500 years from now.) So our population growth will slow down dramatically at some point in the near future, but the big question is what will cause that to happen? Will it be due to deaths caused by wars, disease, starvation, pollution, and natural disasters, or will it be because we realize that our population growth is not sustainable and we make the conscious choice to have less children?
We are blessed to be living in a time when if we want water most of us can still just go to the kitchen sink and turn it on, but in a world with a lot more people and a lot less resources to go around, the most basic needs that we currently take for granted could become the very things that people go to war over.
If you are thinking about having a child I would encourage you to ask yourself the following question... "If I have a child now, what will the world be like when my child is the same age that I currently am?" Of course nobody knows the future, but do you believe that the future world will be a safe place for your children, your grand children, and your great grand children? Or does the thought of what the world might be like in the future scare you?
Just as it wouldn't be wise to have children if you didn't believe that you would be able to provide them with their most basic needs in life, such as food, water, and shelter, it also wouldn't be wise to have children if you don't believe that the world it's self is going to be able to provide your future offspring with their most basic needs.
Consider Adopting A Child
Every day 18,000 children die from starvation and 200,000 new children are brought into the world, so if it is your dream to have a kid, please consider adopting a child who in need.
Consider Adopting A Pet
Every day 10,000 animals in the pound are put to sleep due to not finding an owner, yet many people out there are paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to buy specially bred cats and dogs from pet stores because they are seen as more beautiful than animals in the pound. (An animal from the pound can offer just as much love and companionship as an expensive animal that was purchased at a pet store, and more importantly, the animals in the pound desperately need love and companionship, so if you want a pet please consider adopting one from the pound to save money as well as a life.)
Click HERE to watch a video I made that shows all of the trash that I threw away in 2012. In the video I show how I was able to throw away less trash in a whole year than the average person throws away in just one day!
I want to stress that I didn't get this "environmentally friendly" overnight, and I simply started making small changes in my life that over time added up and collectively made a very big difference.
It all started for me several years ago when I went to a beautiful lake and was disturbed to see just how many empty plastic bags were laying around. I remember picking up a bag that said "Radio Shack" on it and noticing that there was still a receipt inside of it, so I looked at it and it showed that someone had bought a pack of AA batteries. I then thought to myself, "Why would someone even need a bag if all they bought was a small pack of batteries?" I mean, couldn't they have just put it in their pocket or just walked out of the store while holding it in their hand? Then I went to the grocery store later that day and saw an old man in the produce section take a bag of grapes and even though it was already in a bag he put the bag of grapes into a disposable plastic produce bag, and then when he got to the checkout line the cashier put it into yet another plastic bag, so now the grapes were inside 3 different plastic bags. It seemed so ridiculously wasteful to me and with the thought of all those bags that I saw at the lake still on my mind I told the cashier that I didn't want bags and have never used one since. (Because almost everything sold in grocery stores arrive at the store in boxes there are always empty boxes at stores that I can use if I have a lot of stuff to carry, and you could also simply bring your own re-usable cloth bags.)
I then started to feel a bit sad when I would go for a walk in my neighborhood on "Trash Day" because not only were people throwing away enormous amounts of trash, but so much of the "trash" that they were throwing away appeared to still be in good condition. (Furniture, clothing, toys, electronics, and even uneaten food that looked like it could be donated to those in need rather than simply thrown in the landfill.)
And most troubling to me of all was the thought that we humans are the only life forms on Earth that actually produce "trash". Everything in nature decomposes naturally. (When an animal dies in nature it's body becomes food for other life forms, and even the manure that wild animals produce becomes soil for the forest, but we humans produce waste products that are highly toxic and designed not to biodegrade.) In fact, so much of the "disposable" things that are intended to only be used once and then be thrown away such as plastic silverware, baby diapers, and soda cans are made out of materials that are built to out-live us! And to make matters worse even the most expensive items that people purchase at stores such as cellphones, computers, and televisions are purposely being built now to become "obsolete" in a very short amount of time so that people will quickly throw them away and have to keep buying newer versions of them, and the more that I realized all of this the more that I lost my appetite to be a "consumer".
Please stop thinking that once you throw something in a trash can it is gone forever. A lot of the trash that we throw away ends up in the ocean. (There are over 100 million tons of plastic in the oceans and when plastics in the ocean breaks down into smaller pieces the fish and other sea life will eat it, and if you eat sea food you are likely consuming this plastic as well.) And even if the trash that you throw away gets buried in a landfill it will still go on to pollute the Earth for countless centuries to come because when it rains the rain water will sink down into the buried landfill and absorb the pollution from it, and then the toxic water will trickle down deep into underground water ways and will ultimately end up in our rivers and oceans, so we need to realize that the more trash that we produce the bigger the mess that we are leaving behind for our future generations to deal with.
Being a "minimalist" means that rather than buying expensive things that you don't need and can live without, you love and cherish the things that are free in life and that you can't live without, such as friendships, sunshine, and your health. A "Minimalist" also understands that with ownership comes a lot of responsibilities, and that the more stuff you own the more that your stuff can own you. (If everything that you own can fit in a backpack then moving to another part of the world can be an exciting adventure, but if you own lots and lots of stuff then the idea of moving to another part of the world can just seem "unrealistic" to you.
We are living in a time when we can buy virtually anything that we want to, (and even if you are totally broke you can still use credit cards to buy stuff) and yet, we are more unhappy than ever before, and in America alone we collectively owe over 10 trillion dollars in credit card dept! It should be obvious by now to everyone that seeking happiness through material possessions has only lead to us having a deeper dissatisfaction with our lives, and sadly many of us devote most of our waking hours to working at a job that doesn't bring us happiness just so we can continue to keep buying material things that don't bring us happiness.
Something that I told my family back when I first became a "minimalist" was, "If you want to give me something, give me a hug, and if you want to make me something, make me laugh!" because any material gifts given to me would only make it more difficult for me to travel and live the free life that I love so much.
There is a powerful saying that goes, "If you know you have enough you are truly rich." and another saying that goes, "The Earth provides enough for every man's need, but not enough for every man's greed." and I encourage you to become a "minimalist" and free yourself from the illusion of happiness being something that comes with a price tag, and that you can only afford to buy if you are willing to spend countless hours doing something that you don't enjoy.
Real happiness comes from doing what you love, and when you are a "minimalist" the cost of living is so much lower then the average person's that you can afford to work less and devote more of your time to doing what you love. (Which will lead to you developing the knowledge and skills necessary to turn what you love into your full time job!)
A lot of importance is put on "who" we vote for, but not "what" we vote for...
It's easy to point the finger at big corporations and blame them for the biggest environmental problems facing humanity, since they are the ones who are cutting down the rain forests, overfishing the oceans, and putting massive amounts of deadly toxins into the air, water, and soil when they produce their products. But until we are willing to admit to ourselves that if we purchase their products we are funding this environmental destruction, the problem will continue.
Don't wait for a politician to come along and fix all this. Major corporations have so much money that elected officials are easily controlled by them, and they often end up being bribed into letting big businesses get away with unthinkable crimes against nature, so it is up to us as consumers to stop supporting companies that are destroying the environment.
Anytime that we buy something (whether it is an apple or a pack of cigarettes) we are increasing the public demand for it and "voting" to have more of it (and all of the destruction that comes with producing it) in the world. (If for example people start buying less meat then less animals will be raised for slaughter in the future, and if people start buying more meat then more animals will be raised for slaughter in the future, because it is all about "supply and demand".)
When you look at price tags please keep in mind that there is a "hidden cost" in most of the things that we buy. Walmart for example is the dominant retail store in America and this is because nobody can compete with their low prices. But have you ever wondered how it is that they are able to sell their products for so cheap and yet still make billions of dollars in profits each year? The secret is that their products are mostly made overseas in countries like China, Bangladesh, and India where they can get away with only paying people 13 cents an hour to make products that will be sold in America, and many of these workers are forced to work 7 days a week and up to 16 hours a day or else they will be fired and replace with someone who will work that much. (Many of these workers are also young children and because they are working all day they are completely deprived of getting an education or spending time with their family.) Plus Walmart may also deny their American store employees raises, break time, or health care in an effort to further maximize company profits while at the same time keeping their prices so low that nobody else can compete with them.
I remember being at a grocery store in Ohio and noticing that the "locally grown" Ohio tomatoes cost almost 5 times as much money as the tomatoes that were grown in Mexico. It didn't make sense to me how the tomatoes from Mexico (which had to be shipped thousands of miles to get to Ohio) could possibly cost that much less than the tomatoes that were grown locally, and the only way that it could possibly make sense financially was if the Mexican workers who grew the tomatoes were literally being paid about 100 times less than the tomato growers in Ohio were. (15 cents an hour for the Mexican workers and 15 dollars an hour for the American workers would be my rough guess as to how much they were each getting paid.
When we buy inexpensive meat at McDonalds an animal had to pay for it with their life, and when we buy inexpensive clothing at Walmart a child in a sweatshop had to pay for it with their childhood. Low prices can cause consumers to become selfish and less compassionate towards others, (Just look at how people can act towards each other on "Black Friday".) but when you become aware of the terrible price that others are having to pay in order for us to have these low prices it becomes very difficult to view anything at stores like Walmart as a "bargain". (Even if Walmart was giving away stereos for "FREE" just knowing that someone else had to pay for it with their "FREEDOM" would cause it to still feel too expensive to want one.)
- When we buy fruits and vegetables that have been reduced in price because they are "ripe" or because they are shaped a little odd it sends a message to stores to stop throwing away food that is still OK to eat.
- When we buy used goods at a thrift store rather than buying brand new stuff at a department store it sends out a message to people to donate rather than dispose of material goods that are still in good condition.
- When we are willing to spend a bit more money for a product because it was made by a company that treats it's workers fairly, or that is environmentally friendly it encourages other companies to be more ethical.
I'll make a bold prediction now that if life is ever discovered on another planet it won't be a single species, because life (at least as we know it) is a process that involves millions of different species that all depend on each other to exist, and none of the individual species on Earth could survive completely on their own.
What has happened is that the human race has separated it's self from the rest of nature and now we are destroying nature as if we have forgotten where we came from and are completely unaware of what the future consequences of this destruction will be.
If we wish to survive as a species we must take on a much greater respect for the diversity in the world (as well as for the diversity that is found within our own species) and it all starts by realizing that although we are all different we have far more in common than we don't, and that if we continue to drive the other species into extinction we are in fact committing suicide.
If it was announced that terrorists were plotting to poison our waters, our air, or our food supply as much as we are currently doing it to ourselves people would be up in arms and ready to go to war to stop them from doing it. (The collective carelessness of a country is usually far more destructive than any outside terrorist group could ever be.)
The reason that pollution is happening on such a grand scale is largely due to the fact that so many people don't believe that one person can make a difference. (People don't think that throwing away 1 aluminum can is going to make a difference and because of this attitude 50 Billion of them get thrown away every year in America alone!)
The environmental catastrophes facing humanity could actually result in great economic potential for big corporations if only they would shift their focus to clean energy rather than trying to squeeze every last penny that they can out of whatever oil, coal, and natural gas is still left to be extracted, and the fact that the world is in such crisis could also provide anyone out there who doesn't know what to do with their life with the most important mission of all in life... To help save the world! (Anyone who wants to be a hero and save lives has that opportunity literally knocking at their door today.)
Every little bit makes a difference, and Dan Millman (author of "The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior") once said that anytime he goes somewhere he makes it a point to pick up a piece of trash so that everywhere he goes will be a little bit cleaner just because he was there. I think that this is a wonderful attitude to have and I guarantee you that if you go to a beach that is trashed and you start picking up the trash you will feel nature thanking you for it, and you will feel good about what you are doing, and have a strong desire to be less wasteful yourself and to "Walk Lightly On The Earth".
If you live in America it is very important to note that the average American will consume more than 25 times as many resources as the average person living in a 3rd world country will. (A really poor person in Africa who can't afford to buy a pair of shoes is obviously going to have far less of an environmental "footprint" than a really wealthy person in America who has no idea how many pairs of shoes they own.) And sadly the American lifestyle is so glamorized in movies, TV shows, and magazines that people in other countries want to live like us, so it is up to us as role models for the rest of the world to stop living beyond our means and to let the rest of the world know that the American lifestyle that is portrayed in the media is not only unsustainable but is destroying the world, so that they can learn from our past mistakes rather than repeating them.