last Monday, April 22, was earth day !! if you were like me then your Instagram feed was completely filled with pictures of people traveling to exotic places and spending time at their favorite local outdoor hideaways and just appreciating this great big beautiful world. spending time admiring how beautiful our earth is got me thinking about how carelessly we treat it. it’s easy to occasionally recycle and turn off the water while brushing our teeth and take beautiful pictures and then feel like we are avid protectors of our home but in reality, we (probably) still are not doing enough. so what are some little things we can do to help save our planet ?
1. SAVE THE BEESOver 85% of plants absolutely need a pollinator. and who is the best and biggest pollinator of them all you may be asking yourself: bees !! bees are responsible for pollinating thousands of different plant species each year (Earth Rangers) which makes every 1 in 3 bites of food we eat possible. But 44% of bees colonies collapsed in 2016 and they are continuing to decline at an alarming rate. Losing our bee population can have tremendous economic and environmental impact. Without all that honey, the world’s going to be a lot less sweet :(( so how can you help keep our little pollinators happy & healthy ?? First off, buy cheerios !! They’re delicious !! (you may be wondering if I’m saying this because I am sponsored but I’m not: just a fan ;)) last year, Cheerios planted 1.7 billion seeds of pollinator plants and they’re still planting more !! So helping support the cheerios company is a win-win-win for you because the bees are being saved, the planet is being saved, and you get a pretty delicious snack. Second, make your yard a home for pollinators: keep parts of your yard free form pesticides, do research about your area, and plant many beautiful different flowers (Cheerios) !!
2. PLANT SOME TREEStrees are absolutely essential to our lives. Trees offer homes to countless species, reduce carbon dioxide and other green house gases, and release oxygen in to the air. despite the extreme importance of trees, we have cut down half of all trees on the planet so far and each year we continue to destroy forests by the square milage equivalent to the state of Alabama (Small Footprint Family). planting trees in you’re own backyard could truly make all the difference. in fact, a mature canopy tree absorbs enough carbon and releases enough oxygen to sustain two human beings !! also donating to organizations like American Forests (link: https://www.americanforests.org/) can help solve the massive deforestation problem. They also take donations in memory or honor of loved ones which can a beautiful gift. After my papa died, a close family friend donated 20 trees in his honor saying that my papa’s death gave the world new life which we felt was a beautiful tribute to his memory.
3. CLEAN THE SEAS8 million tons of plastic (straws and more) enters our oceans each year. Sadly, this is rapidly increasing as it is projected by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. you may have heard about how plastic straws negatively affect the oceans and especially turtles. on average, we use 500 million plastic straws a day in the United States (that’s 1.6 per person !!) and in a study done by UGA, 96 turtles that had previously ingested plastic were observed. sadly, at least half of these turtles died because of the waste in their system (TRVST). so lets save the freaking turtles by keeping our oceans plastic free !! try asking for non plastic straws or lids at restaurants. or better yet, get your own reusable straw !! one company, FinalStraw sells reusable straws that come in a case small enough to add to your car keys !! (link: https://finalstraw.com/products/the-final-straw) !! their kickstarter campaign has already raised 1.89 million dollars and started a global movement to reduce single-use plastics so get shopping !!
okay so these little changes may feel so small, how could they possibly matter ? but they really do add up !! together we can save our earth. So here’s a cheesy reminder that really is no Planet B.
thanks for reading !! :)
“#BringBacktheBees - Our Mission to Save the Bees.” Cheerios, www.cheerios.com/bring-back-the-bees/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwkoDmBRCcARIsAG3xzl_q2t5GzdbnJ0tvI7miYykb30601xHFjyQLp3FFdQ_SnN4o3XZe-CMaAnnYEALw_wcB.\
“Environmental Impact of Plastic Straws.” TRVST, www.trvst.world/inspiration/environmental-impact-of-plastic-straws/.
“Fall Is for Tree Planting-And the More We Plant, the Better!” Small Footprint Family, 5 Mar. 2019, www.smallfootprintfamily.com/why-we-should-plant-more-trees.
“Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Protect Bees and Other Pollinators | Earth Rangers Wild Wire Blog.” Earth Rangers, 3 Nov. 2016, www.earthrangers.com/wildwire/bbtw_updates/top-5-reasons-why-you-should-protect-bees-and-other-pollinators/.
Something that I love being a part of here at UGA is Extra Special People (ESP) !! ESP which is an after school or afternoon program for people that have special needs. They provide fun and engaging activities for people of all ages with a variety of different developmental and learning disabilities. They value people. Here people that may have been treated as “different” have the freedom to be themselves and live joyfully and fearlessly.
When I first got involved with ESP, I thought that I would be “helping” or “teaching” the participants, but that’s not the experience I’ve had at all actually. As cliche as it many sound, they’ve taught me. They do not worry about fitting in, they just decide to be themselves. They do not worry about hanging out with people that have a “high social status” or “good reputation,” they’re just friends with everyone. And they do not see themselves or each other as disabled, they just see each other as people. My friend Shelby once told my that they live how God intended for us all to live: seeing people as people vs seeing people as different, living lives free from fear or the pressure to conform, and loving each other completely unrestrained.
Last week, I went to my first ever Italian wedding and WOW was it fun !! Two of the directors of ESP are getting married later this month and of course the participants all wanted to be there to celebrate. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible for everyone to be at the actual wedding so the directors threw a big Italian wedding and invited all the participants instead. Girls came in their best tacky prom dresses and boys came in their all black mobster outfits. We watched a beautiful ceremony, we ate big plates of spaghetti, and we danced the night away to “Come on Eileen” (one of my personal favorites :)) During the wedding, I had the opportunity to hang out with one of my favorite kids at ESP, his name is Nathaniel ! Nathaniel is in my art & sports classes on Wednesday’s and he was in my group for Big Hearts so I’ve gotten to know him pretty well over the course of this semester. He’s a prankster so he’ll try to sneak up and scare you yelling “boo !,” he’ll always beat you in a thumb war, he absolutely never stops giggling, and he’s an excellent dance partner.
A week prior to the Italian wedding was National Down Syndrome day (if you were close paying attention, you may have noticed some people wearing crazy socks that day ;)). On that Thursday, I stumbled across an amazing campaign I’ve began to regularly follow called “Save Down Syndrome.” Save Down Syndrome is an advocacy campaign for down syndrome led by those with down syndrome. Their campaign advocates against genocide, discrimination, and mistreatment and their store donates 100% of their profits to Reece’s Rainbow, a nonprofit that helps orphans with down syndrome and other disabilities find families. Below is a link to their page if you feel called to donate to their amazing cause and help make a better life for kids like Nathaniel :))
something else I thought may be interesting to add to this page is an “update” series !! I hope that this will be an investing way to see how the little things we’ve been sharing on this page are really making a difference.
around 2 weeks ago, in the post “serendipity,” I shared a few short stories about strangers that invest a little time and a little love into another stranger and ended up changing their whole life. Although these kinds of “life altering” experiences are more often than not “once in a life time” kinds of moments, fearlessly throwing around a little kindness can easily brighten someones day !!
this past weekend I had one of those moments. Friday was just one of those days where everything feels like it’s going wrong. when you’re having that kind of day, where the universe feels against you and bad luck feels inevitable, it can be so difficult to keep a positive attitude, and honesty on Friday I was having trouble keeping a smile. Although it was little things, like being stuck in traffic and not being able to find parking and getting lost in the wrong terminal, I was so overwhelmed as I was now running late for a flight that I absolutely could not miss. I made it to the terminal with no more than 2 minutes to spare before boarding when a voice came over the intercom to notify us that my flight had been delayed… 2 hours. Although this was not ideal, I decided that it may be for the better because I then realized how painfully hungry I was as it was 6pm and I had not eaten all day. I was so excited because I knew that there was Auntie Anne’s in my terminal (YUM) so I ordered a small cup of nuggets and tried to take a deep breath. As I was walking back to my gate, I stumbled and dropped all my nuggets. At this point, I couldn’t help but laugh. I pathetically walked back to Auntie Anne’s feeling slightly defeated and ordered a large cup of nuggets (because I felt like I needed it). the woman behind the counter asked me “weren’t you just here?” I laughed and told her “yes” and she smiled and slip the cup across the counter, winked, and told me to have a nice day. free freaking pretzels !! I know that may sound so silly but it really did make me feel better on a rough day !! :))
sometimes we are called to take a chance. if you’re like me and being challenged to take a risk sounds more scary than exhilarating, you probably know exactly how you like your morning coffee, you probably would rather rewatch “The Office” for the forth time before you try you’re cards at “Parks and Rec,” and you probably play it safe most of the time. or maybe you are comfortable with risks when it comes to the adrenaline rush of driving way over the speed limit on a one lane road or jumping off a bridge that’s suspended just a little too high, but not so much when it comes to taking the risk of letting someone know who you truly are. I think that no matter how reckless or how daring we are, there’s always some type of risk or leap of faith that will be so big, it scares us, maybe so much so, we let it pass. the cost of what we may lose, far outweighs the beauty of what we may gain. but what if we were a little more brave, a little more uncomfortable with our stagnancy?
my car is 12 years old so I don’t have an aux cord. although I sometimes get tired of listening to ads between songs on the radio, I love listening to morning talk shows. one morning on the Jeff & Jen show (94.1), they told stories of how little chance in-counters ultimately lead to big life changes.
they shared stories of true love, random kindness, and bravery. they shared stories of people meeting their spouses and helping lost foreign travelers and even being inspired to join the marines. they told stories of meeting on planes and ski lifts and in bars.
but my favorite was the story of a woman so broken and worn from what seemed like a hopeless battle against cancer she was ready to give up on life. while she was anxiously sitting with her daughter in the hospital waiting room to tell her doctor she was ready to stop chemotherapy, an unknown woman approached her and gave her some of the most important and impactful words she’d ever heard. the stranger told the woman her own testament, she told her not to give up her fight because she is strong and capable, and she told her that one day she can and will beat her cancer. after these words of encouragement, the woman felt so empowered she changed her mind and continued her chemotherapy. now this woman, that once had felt defeated, conquered her cancer & her fear and lives happily & healthily.
these stories are examples of how doing small things like investing a little time and compassion into a someone’s life can make a big difference. one person summed up these chance in-counters in a single sentence: “I don’t even know [their] name and my life turned 180 degrees” (Jeff).
everyone in these stories were brave. they spoke when they may have been uncomfortable and listened when they may not have liked what the other had to say. they were vulnerable. they were open. they allowed a complete stranger to come into their lives even though they were foreign and they entered someone else’s life even though it was uncharted territory.
maybe these encounters are supernatural, some divine intervention like a “guardian angel” sort of thing. maybe it’s serendipity. or maybe it’s not chance at all and it actually makes perfect sense that a stranger is sometimes is a safer place. I guess all that really matters is that they happen and that they’re beautiful and wonderful because they do something truly amazing. maybe you’ll have the opportunity to make or experience this kind of impact. or maybe you won’t, maybe you will just bring a little light to someone’s day but that matters too. the little things count, they add up to really really big things.
so next time you’re on UGA Orbit bus or forced to share a table with someone at the Jittery Joes in the MLC or you have any opportunity to get to know someone one new, just freaking take it !! be a little more brave and a little more open. you never know how you could change someone’s life for the better, or even how they could change yours !!
There is a lot to be grateful for in this world. I’ve only gotten to share with y’all a small piece of my whole life that’s filled with people and moments and memories that I can count as great blessings. Recently I’ve began to truly plant myself in one of the local churches here in Athens and last week we were challenged. We were challenged to be giving: giving of our money, our time, our hearts, our stories, of the Lord’s love, and so much more. So twenty nineteen will be the beginning of giving, giving selflessly and wholeheartedly.
This page isn’t about me, it’s not my stories. This is a page about you and others like you walking along side Jesus, healing a hurting world. I wanted to set up this new page to share stories about how giving a little or doing something small, can create something even bigger and more beautiful than we could have ever even imagined.
“God is able to do much more than we ask or think through His power working in us.”
- Ephesians 3:20