Giving the Earth “A Hand” – Michigan’s Helping Hand Series

Happy Earth Day! The movement that began in 1970 has now landed a designated, theoretical parking spot on my calendar. What are you going to do to celebrate? Are you breaking out your 100% recycled material gloves to clean up the nearest park and plant a tree—like you do every year? Perhaps you already partake in your city’s recycling program by filling your big, green bin to the brim, but are looking to branch out. Or, you could dread the whole “holiday” since it reminds you of how far-from-green your thumb is considering the droopiness of your silk shrubberies. Hey, I always pick up my 2-point attempts off the floor when I miss the basket, so what if I use hairspray?

There are numerous ways—big and small—to get involved in making the world a cleaner place. Take reusable bags to the grocery store or any of your next shopping trips. If you forget to bring them inside the establishment, as I do on occasion, opt for bagging things yourself since most stores have rules on how much a bag can weigh. This may eliminate the annoying “double-bagging” of your entire purchase phenomenon. Keep in mind that several of your purchases, such as milk, kitty litter, diapers, and the bulk size of Simply Orange juice, have handles in order to deter more baggage. Bring a water-filled thermos to the gym, workplace, or playground to avoid the worrisome task of finding a recycle bin for your plastic bottle. Washable containers overrun my refrigerator to keep from wasting food or foil. I can put my sandwiches in them for lunch at work as well. Can’t afford a set of your own? Build a collection by saving your Thai, Chinese, Mexican and other take-out boxes.

Michigan has great resources to capitalize on in your own city, but here are a couple I’d like to highlight.

Bay Area Recycling for Charities

Bay Area Recycling for Charities is awesome! Although I can’t participate since I don’t live in that area, (which means I need to start writing a strong-worded letter to my mayor) it’s quite impressive: they are true to their slogan Waste not. Give a lot. Not only does this organization promote living a cleaner, safer life but also much of the proceeds go to patron-decided charities to better the world in general. BARC accepts a plethora of items that the standard recycling program does not and the organization showcases eco-friendly alternatives for your home or office.

Detroiters Working For Environmental Justice

Another awesome organization that has been around since 1994, and it’s closer to my home, is Detroiters Working For Environmental Justice. DWEJ’s mission statement says it all: “Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice works with communities to create cleaner, healthier and safer neighborhoods.”  They’re aware that lower-income areas not only lack health-conscious behaviors within the home, but that the city’s environmental pollution is much higher. “DWEJ is dedicated to empowering urban residents to take a meaningful role in the decision-making process surrounding environmental concerns in their own communities.” It’s difficult to care about what type of garbage bags you’re using, or worry about recycling at all, when you’re working two jobs to put food on the table. On a personal level, it’s difficult for me to keep this mindset in my frontal lobe since my drive to work takes 45 minutes. That’s a lot of gas burned and exhaust dispersed.  I’d love the opportunity to ride my bike to work, but that’s just not feasible. Thankfully, organizations such as this help to educate the population to do what they can with what they have to use.

Here are some other great resources to help you get involved in your area:

Rebecca Battles, Contributing Writer 

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