Small Things Count

Sometimes with this blog I worry that my suggestions go too far to be appealing to most people (fridgeless experiments, doing without heat, etc.). Other times, I feel the suggestions might be too obvious and therefore not inspiring. The truth is, though, everything we do with the intention of living more gently and respectfully on the earth counts, even the things that seem small.

In that spirit, I would like to share a win with you. Over the past few months I’ve been making a point of buying packaged snacks less often. One thing I love is tortilla chips. Lately instead of buying them at the store and ending up with a (non-recyclable, non-compostable) bag, I’ll go to my favorite Mexican restaurant, where they make their chips in-house. That’s Part 1 of the win: cutting out the styrofoam, plus supporting a local business and of course getting to eat tasty, warm, fresh-made chips.

Part 2 happened last night when I remembered in time that they always put the guacamole in a styrofoam container. (The chips are served in the restaurant’s reusable basket, which is lined with paper.) Last night I asked them to just put the scoop of guacamole in the middle of the basket, on top of the chips. Worked like a charm! I could grab a chip off the side of the basket and dip it into the scoop of guacamole. No separate styrofoam container needed. Then after enjoying my feast, I brought the paper basket-liner home to compost. Another great thing about eating chips at a restaurant is it becomes more of an occasional special treat, rather than a more frequent “run down to the convenience store” temptation.

Small things add up. Here’s another small thing: You know those mesh bags that produce sometimes comes in? Little plastic mesh bags of tangerines or potatoes or whatever. I don’t buy my produce in those bags but sometimes we get them at church, or a guest brings one to my house. Well, those plastic mesh bags make good pot-scrubbers and sink-scrubbers! And they last a long time. I just used one to scrub my kitchen sink today.

What “small things” have you been doing in your life? And what have the benefits been? Do you ever notice a burst of creative energy and inner satisfaction after doing one of these small things? I know I do! Not the kind of satisfaction that turns into complacency, but the kind of satisfaction that encourages me to keep going.