How to start having a mindful footprint
First things first, just educating yourself on the subject of living mindfully is a great start. Not everyone knows how to conserve, reduce garbage and/or take care of their environment, let alone are willing to take action once they know. So many of us are overwhelmed at the metrics showing us the state of the planet. For example, according to National Geographic, 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in to the oceans each year. Think about that. That's just plastic, not to mention the other garbage that joins it. Also, that's just the ocean! Landfills all over the world are overflowing with unrecycled materials. So, the question is, how do we reverse that fact?
Education is a great start, but action is better. And a gradual building of those actions will start to really make a difference. There are people all over the world, individuals and non-profit organizations, that are working toward rectifying this problem, but they very much need our help. Because although they are working to clean up this mess, we need to contribute to their efforts by NOT continuing to contribute to the problem.
Start with something doable. Carrying your own reusable straw doesn't sound like it will make much of a difference, but it will if the practice snowballs into a common thing for all of us. Remember a few years ago when taking your own grocery bags to the store was something that only a select group of people did? Then it grew. Now, several cities have outlawed the use of plastic bags and charge extra for paper ones. It all starts with one person. They tell a friend how easy it was to make the change and then they do it. Pretty soon legislation is being drafted to encourage all of us to do it.
The best way to have a mindful footprint is to be truly mindful about it. What does that mean? Mindfulness on an action level involves forethought, focus and planning. That's really it. Knowing how many of a reusable product you need in order to use only that is key. Making sure that the reusable product you need is clean is another important factor. Being aware of your habits and what is outside your ability to follow through is also important. No one is here to beat you up for being a little lazy, busy or tired every now and then, so if you know that you are unlikely to stay on top of washing your reusable utensils, pick something else to start with or buy several sets. Know yourself and adjust accordingly.
Add one habit at a time and spread the word about why you are doing it to receptive ears. Share articles on social media that educate people around you. You don't have to become an activist to get involved. And although being mindful about the way you consume and reduce your footprint will make you feel good about yourself, try to avoid the pitfall of being smug about it, because if you do, no one will hear your message and that isn't the point. If you act mindfully from a motivation of love for the world around you instead of a feeling of superiority it will generate in you such a magnetic force of positivity that even random strangers will approach you to ask about your cool metal straw.