Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely eat a food that’s been artificially flavored, chemically preserved or enhanced or overly processed. I eat organic eggs, chicken and wild caught seafood. I feel good about that, but in thinking further, I realize that my choices have a greater impact on the planet and on its people.
Then I began to wonder what that impact really was. I could surmise some of it, but I truly don’t know … How can anyone, really? Jimmy Stewart’s character in “It’s a Wonderful Life” didn’t have a clue how the world would be changed without him. That’s true for each of us and it got me thinking about the effect of human action or inaction and how each impacts the universe.
If we tried to think of the effect of each choice, from turning on the water to wash our face to our decision about whether or not to have children, we’d not get out of bed, but we could, just for a moment, think about how we are connected.
Simple things like plumbing and soap connect us in myriad ways. Consider the elements required to make the soap, the pipes and connections and the systems required to bring the water into your house. Each piece has people and resources attached to it: chemists, engineers, salespeople, factory workers, miners, advertising execs and graphic designers, actors to sell the soap in commercials, cameramen, distributors, delivery drivers, shippers, shelf stockers, store managers, customer service workers, cashiers. And there’s waste treatment and garbage on the back side with all of it’s equipment, machinery and people. There’s the water itself and where it’s coming from and how using it impacts its source. Then there’s the energy required for all of these things … all so that you can get up and wash your face.
Each action; infinite connections …
So, that impact I’m trying to figure out is almost impossible because without a Jimmy Stewart moment, there’s no way for me to see the impact of each choice. However, as responsible, thinking adults, we can try to envision the impact of some of our choices:
By choosing to eat food that is organic, untreated with pesticides or chemical fertilizers, not fed hormones and antibiotics, we might just save a family farmer, or reduce the cancer incidence due to the carcinogens found in those chemicals. We’ll help to reduce healthcare costs and increase productivity.
The farm workers who pick the crops will be healthier and so will their children because the workers won’t return home with pesticides on their hands and clothing … one of those families might give birth to a child who goes on to become a physician or teacher, instead of a person with physical or mental challenges.
As for water, we can use less by turning it on and off responsibly, using water-saving devices, landscaping with tolerant plants and being aware that water does not flow from a never-ending source. It is finite.
What else? We can buy from companies that treat their employees fairly, with dignity and respect: Talk about long-term benefits!
How will all of this thinking change my habits? I admit to being aware before but I put my blinders on when I went shopping. That changes today. I will quit shopping at Wal-Mart and set a timer when I water my plants. I will use the dishwasher rather than hand wash and make sure that my clothes washer loads are full. I already have water saving devices.
While I was looking for images I came across a photo (copyrighted) of migrant workers with their faces in the strawberry and tomato plants. Many had kerchiefs over their nose and mouth, but that’s not much of a filter for chemical dust. I will picture them when I look at the price of conventional vs. organic strawberries and opt for the long term value. Buying more organic produce will mean that I’ll have to choose less expensive alternatives in other areas. Beans and rice anyone? (A fabulously healthy option that tastes great!)
Choices with impacts unknown … our day is full of them. Take a minute, once in awhile, to think about the seemingly simple things that are actually complex and how our connections create our world. We can impact the world with our choices. We can be cognizant or turn a blind eye. It’s our choice.
Better health and weight loss aren’t just about eliminating junk food and exercising, they’re also about self esteem. Making compassionate choices just makes a person feel good about themselves!
Nancy Oglesby, The Practical Health Coach
simplifying healthy lifestyle changes