I’m just one small person in a big world, but I am concerned about my responsibility for the wellbeing of the world around me.

In the 1970s, we were minimalists and a bit ‘hippie-ish.’ We eschewed sugar for honey and whole wheat for white. We tried our hand at gardening organically. We limited our possessions. We lived in modest homes.

In the1980s and 1990s, we were parents who tried to instill reasonableness in our offspring. We gardened and canned. We bought in bulk. We limited athletic shoe purchases – a true test for our athletic boys in the Jordan era). We drove reasonable cars.

Now, into a new century and in our ThirdThird of life (ages 60-90), the world has changed while staying the same as life goes on. And so, the result of progress is both positive and not.

Wading through information is either tedious or overwhelming. News on nutrition, the environment, world strife and human need changes daily… yikes! Where to begin? What should I do?

Here are a few ways that I simplify, maneuvering in the world as I approach my 70s, building on all the lessons learned in the past six decades.

Bar Soap

When I looked around our home, I was appalled at the number of plastic containers that went into our trash weekly. Even though we were recycling, I started looking at unnecessary products packaged in plastic.

Bath soap or body wash was one. And, often, the #1 ingredient listed was water! Now, bar soap is a simple way I appease my environmental conscience.

Wool Balls for the Dryer

I know the dryer sheets smell good. And make your clothes less static-y. But, wool balls with a bit of essential oil give a nice smell, too, and they really do cut down on the static.

I don’t necessarily believe all I see on Facebook about the evils of dryer sheets, but I like having my re-useable wool balls as a substitute.

Reusable Bags

It took me a while to remember to bring my own bags into the store. But when a large box store came into a community near us, it was shocking how quickly their flimsy, blue, plastic bags littered virtually every roadside and field nearby.

It was motivating to me to switch to reusable, and now using my own bags is second nature. It helps that I picked up some good, sturdy ones along the way.

Glass and Stainless

I have been gradually collecting containers that are attractive and convenient for my kitchen. I have small glass jars for the commonly used ingredients like matcha tea, turmeric and sesame seeds.

I try to limit our use of throw-away cleaning options by using cloth that is easily washed and reused. I have some convenient glass storage containers for leftovers that make it easy to see what is inside.

The water in our community is really good. It is fine for drinking and it is even better if it is put through a simple filtration system. No need to purchase cases and cases of bottled water in flimsy plastic bottles. Reusable water bottles and coffee mugs are easy on the environment.

Made at Home

I like baking and cooking and have always been a ‘from scratch’ person. As I discovered dietary causes of some physical symptoms I have, my pickiness about what I eat has grown from necessity.

Flare ups and set backs are more easily controlled by not risking someone else’s preparation. Having fresh salad ingredients on hand and convenient ways to transport food makes zipping through fast-food options or take-out less appealing. Oh. And making it at home saves money!

Grown at Home

We used to garden in a big way. But now, both need and space are smaller than they were when I was feeding a family of seven with frequent guests.

I confess that I don’t really like to garden, but I love the results of my husband’s efforts! So, we took stock of the produce we buy in large quantities that we could easily grow in our smaller backyard. Greens!

Kale, spinach, chard, bok choy, romaine lettuce are this summer’s produce, along with basil, rosemary and radishes. Tomatoes would be nice too, but the walnut tree in our neighbor’s yard makes trying to grow those a frustrating experience.

We were buying three to four boxes of organic greens a week before. Now, at least in the summer, we have all we need just outside the door. And, we don’t have the plastic boxes piling up for recycling.

Recycle

Unfortunately, in our area, recycling took some patience and effort. It is not a municipal service so one had to be pretty dedicated to get it done. Then, there were rumors of the actual destination of the items taken to the commercial recycling center.

All is better now. We still have to sort and rinse and fold, but it gets picked up weekly in a special truck. We actually generate more recycling than we do trash! It makes me happy to accomplish this simple effort. And just like carrying my own shopping bags, it is now a habit that requires very little extra effort.

As I try to be responsible in my little corner of the world, I believe that small efforts are important. Living more simply and with less waste is an effort that makes me feel like I am a responsible citizen of the world. And it simplifies my life!

How are you simplifying in your ThirdThird? Which environmental causes raise your concern and motivate you to action? Let’s discuss them in the comments below.

Debbie HensleighDebbie Hensleigh is a serial entrepreneur and business coach who is intent on living life on purpose. She is a speaker, writer and leads workshops on intentionally designing your best ThirdThird, from ​ages 60 to 90. Building on the FirstThird (learning years) and the SecondThird (earning years), the ThirdThird can be the best Third. Please visit Debbie’s website here.
 

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