Five ways to enrich your life while conserving

Noting the recent resurgence of environmentalism, I’d like to dedicate some time to discussing a few simple yet effective ways someone can live responsibly while enriching his or her personal life. Although there are some who would suggest that recent manifestations of the environmentalist movement have become increasingly moderate in its goals, shifting away from radical ideals such as population reduction and de-industrialization, there remains a sizeable percentage of our society that continues to perceive such “green” values as burdensome and impractical in their application.

Relax.When we find ourselves living life by the deadlines that have been set for us, it is often difficult to put things into clear perspective. What are the repercussions of our actions? Is there a smarter way to do this? My advice to you is to relax, find time to do nothing in particular (no, this does not mean watching television!) and observe. There is nothing in the world so important that it prevents us from alotting at least a few hours each week toward this end. In doing so, you will find that the world opens up to you in a heretofore unfamiliar manner. You might just find yourself wondering whether driving every day is all that necessary. This is a good thing!

Also, exercise. The pharmaceutical and healthcare industries are some of the lesser-known contributors to pollution. They say they’ve cleaned up their acts, but any industry that establishes dependencies among individuals is a cause for suspicion. Chemicals used in the development and manufacturing of prescription drugs have been known to introduce a host of mutagenic compounds into aquatic systems. They also carry nasty side effects for you, the consumer. Not only is outstanding present health an investment in your future, but regular exercise also increases metabolic efficiency. Just as a Prius gets better gas mileage than a doofy SUV, a fine-tuned body maintains more intimate consonance with the natural world – a human “gas mileage.”

Eat less (meat). While meat is an invaluable source of protein, Americans tend to eat too much of it. Many forms of cancer are attributable to such a diet. Try to limit your weekly consumption to five servings. Accept the challenge of exploring new recipes and foods and commit to vegetarian days a few times each week. Knowledge of reduced environmental impact notwithstanding, breaking up your routine in such a manner has a psychologically positive effect. Also, if your body can afford it, experiment with fasting. One can train one’s body to subsist on fewer calories, although this is not recommended for extended periods of time.

Drink less. Although I abstain completely, I understand that this choice is not for everyone. However, the principle here is to reduce one’s consumption of mass-manufactured products. Each year, alcoholic beverage containers constitute a significant percentage of recyclable waste. If you would rather keep with the company of Dionysus, consider brewing your own beer. Not only is this a fun way to save the environment, but it’s also a good way to add breadth to your character. It’s probably an excellent conversation-starter as well.

Vote. Environmental issues are political issues. In local elections, let your local representative know you’ve had enough of those ugly strip malls and McMansions, that you’d like to leave some land where the imagination can roam free. In state elections, express the importance of creating an economy that doesn’t fly up its own asshole (“Growth is good?” Give me a break!). Our federal government is a mess, but that’s hardly news. Let our presidential candidates know that our plate is full here on the home front, and that it’s time to stop chasing superfluities and engaging in ego-rants abroad. Rather, politics needs to wake up to the reality of things, and begin planning for the future. It’s collective suicide to do otherwise.

Keep in mind, however, that the future begins with you.