The Butterfly Effect is one of my favorite concepts. In fact, I’ve even written about the power of a butterfly’s wings in my novel, Heartlight. If you’re unfamiliar with the Butterfly Effect, it is a theory of causality in physics which states that everything in the universe is connected — in ways so subtle and complex that we cannot even begin to understand. Yet those connections are, in truth, very powerful. The name “Butterfly Effect” comes from the metaphor that, if we could understand all the connections that exist throughout our universe, we could see how the merest flutter of a butterfly’s wings on planet Earth could reach beyond the atmosphere and affect the motion of different stars.
Like that humble butterfly, we as humans are all connected to each other, to nature, and to every part of the universe. We all belong to the same human family, we are each a member of the community of species, and our fate is connected to the health of our planet. And inside each and every one of us resides an amazing power — the power to make choices. What we do with our time, what we care about, how we treat others… all these are choices we make daily.
One of the choices we should all be making? To live as responsibly as we can. The natural world holds enormous powers of resilience: it will survive, with or without us. What we need is a chance for us to survive as well. And something more — a chance to rise to a higher level. To embrace long-term wisdom over short-term greed. To be our best selves as stewards of the Earth. Choose to take a greener and more sustainable path in life to ensure that our planet, our home, will do more than survive. Give it a chance to thrive!
10 Small Changes You Can Make to Protect the Environment
I can’t quite give up on this home planet of ours. Yes, it is beleaguered and trashed and attacked on every level. That, we know beyond doubt. But it is also full of enduring wonder, beauty, and mystery — a place that nourishes us physically and spiritually, every single day. Here are a few small ways that you can be a butterfly and let the flutter of your wings positively affect the future of the world.
Create less waste.
Our landfills are overflowing with single-use plastics and other non-biodegradable materials that end up in our oceans, threatening the beautiful and mysterious creatures that dwell there. Taking small steps toward a zero-waste lifestyle goes a long way toward helping the environment. Try some of these tips:
- Skip the plastic water bottles by substituting them with a reusable glass water bottle.
- Bring your own reusable grocery bags to the store.
- Buy loose produce and avoid using a bag altogether.
- Reuse items that would otherwise end up in landfills.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle.
Greywater is the water leftover from a bath, laundry, washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or even cooking. Shreya Ramachandran, a 2018 Barron Prize Winner, founded The Grey Water Project to help educate and inspire people to reuse water and lessen the effects of drought. Although this water is not potable, by switching to natural soap and cleaning products it can be reused for:
- Watering plants
- Flushing toilets
- And many other possibilities!
Bees are among the best pollinators with the most important jobs — helping plant life to thrive. Without bees, there would be limited flowers and even fewer fruits and vegetables. A few ways to help the bees include:
- Not using pesticides
- Grow local, native plants
- Plant in sunny spots where bees are most likely to visit
Plant a tree.
Trees contribute to the environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. Not to mention, they are magical, majestic beings with histories and stories that we could only imagine. We should all be planting trees!
Grow your own food.
Produce has to travel long distances before it ends up on your grocery store shelves, relying heavily on fossil fuels. By growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can help reduce these practices that are harming the environment. When you grow your own food, you can also eliminate chemicals and pesticides while encouraging bees and other insects to visit. One of the 2004 Barron Prize winners and inspiring young hero, Shawn Henry, created Garden Angels — a nonprofit organization that transformed an abandoned, trash-filled vacant lot into a park and community garden. Community gardens are a wonderful way to divide the responsibilities of gardening while also sharing fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables with your neighbors.
Appliances, chargers, lights… if you’re not actively using them, unplug them! This will not only help you save on your electricity bill but will also help reduce your carbon footprint. If possible, switch to renewable energy sources like solar energy.
Walk when you can.
Or bike. Or use public transportation. Carpool to work. Any way that you can help reduce the amount of fossil fuels used daily is a positive change for the environment.
Make your voice heard.
Speaking up is one of the most powerful things you can do toward saving the planet — especially if you’re speaking to the right people. Be informed, be politically active, and stand up for environmental rights. Ways you can help include:
- Signing petitions
- Calling or writing to your government officials
- Voting for leaders who will fight with you to protect the environment
Find ways to donate or volunteer.
There are many organizations with the sole purpose of protecting and saving the environment. Get involved with one of the organizations to lend a hand, literally or financially, toward a better Earth. A few of my favorites include:
Inspire young heroes.
I passionately believe in the power that young people have to change the narrative of the future. It is our job as parents, teachers, and role models to foster a love of nature and hope for a brighter future in our young people — not only by telling them stories of young heroes and encouraging them to follow their passions but also through leading by example.
No effort is too small. Be like that tiny butterfly and allow the changes that you make today create the world you want to live in tomorrow.