Being a Beneficial Influence, Unobtrusively

In my last post, I gave examples of situations when you might want (or need) to ease up on your default eco practices. When you’re ill, traveling, or visiting someone else’s home, for example, it just might not be feasible or advisable to adhere rigidly to your everyday green habits.

Then again, I’ve found there are times when I can expand my “green influence” without other people’s participation. The best ways I know to do this are to serve on the food committee, cleanup committee, or other essential task groups of organizations I’m involved in. For me right now, that’s mainly my church and my neighborhood group. For other people, it might be school or workplace, scouting group, hobby group, or any other organization or gathering.

By helping out with food and cleanup, I’m in a better position to make sure food gets used up rather than being thrown away. I’m also better able to keep food scraps out of the trash, and instead compost them. Nobody else has to participate — though in fact, many people in my groups already cared about this stuff (in fact, the first compost bin was started by other members long before I joined), and many others have gotten on board. I emphasize the personal benefits we get from keeping goopy stuff out of the kitchen trash can: the can stays cleaner, lighter, doesn’t fill up as fast.

My neighborhood group meets in a place where there’s no compost bin. But I sometimes bring a bucket to our gatherings and take the food scraps home to my compost.

Another example of being a beneficial influence without requiring any extra effort from others: One neighbor brings reusable dishes to the meetings — not just for herself, but enough for everyone — and she takes them home and washes them. Now that is a selfless service. And since her house runs on solar, she might actually be reducing everyone’s footprint!

(People do notice and appreciate the pretty dishes and utensils. And they get the benefits whether or not they are green-minded!)

Have you found ways to expand your green influence without any extra effort on other people’s part? If so, I would love to hear about them, and (with your permission) share them on this blog.