On Feb. 14, 1990, NASA scientists in charge of overseeing the Voyager 1 mission decided to turn the cameras of the spacecraft back on its path for one final photo before it left the solar system for good. As it scanned the darkness of space, it was able to snap photos of all nine planets individually — each nothing more than a tiny speck by now — and as its lens fell upon the earth, it captured one of the most iconic images ever taken of our planet. At no more than 0.12 pixels wide on a canvas of black nothingness, famed astronomer Carl Sagan, who was lead of the imaging team at the time, decided to dub the minuscule point of light the “Pale Blue Dot.”
“Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark,” he wrote later. “The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. … Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.”
This month at Random Acts, we’ve decided to take that challenge and make our stand in protecting the beautiful planet we call home — so for our April #GetKind theme, we’ve chosen to celebrate The Environment. As humans, we spend so much time focusing on our kindness for other human beings that we sometimes forget that a part of what makes us worthy to walk with one another in those efforts is our dedication to keeping the earth clean for future generations. If you’re looking for ways to help us #GetKind for the environment this month, we’ve got a few ideas to get you inspired:
- Organize a beach or forest cleanup and remove litter and debris left by others. Rather than simply spending the weekend with the ones you love, make it a group effort and beautify your campsite or hiking trail the next time you’re out.
- Car-pool to work, school… anywhere you can, whenever you can. It’s an easy way to split the cost of fuel while simultaneously going easy on the environment — and you’ll learn things about your fellow travelers that you might not have otherwise in today’s digitally isolating world. We love new tech, but we love making new friends even more. Don’t like driving? Take your bikes or slip on some comfy shoes, and enjoy the fresh air.
- Diaper with a conscience. “By the time a child is toilet trained, a parent will change between 5,000 and 8,000 diapers, adding up to approximately 3.5 million tons of waste in U.S. landfills each year,” suggests one report. Whether you’re a cloth-diaper expert or a new parent/aunt or uncle/nanny or caregiver looking to go green with eco-friendly diapers, remember to encourage others to follow your lead — after all, a little step goes a long way.
- Use reusable drinking containers rather than buying bottled water. As Random Acts PR Officer Diana suggested last summer, “Plastic bottles take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill – perhaps up to 1,000 years. 90% of bottles aren’t even recycled. Bottles made with Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE) will never biodegrade.” Ease some of the burden on the natural world and find a greener way to hydrate (the earth will thank you for it later).
- Plan an outing to donate gardening supplies to a local community garden, or start one yourself. There’s nothing more therapeutic than spending a day in the sunshine with neighbors and friends, making the earth just a little more colorful and fruitful. (The bees and butterflies will all appreciate it too.)
- Cut down on paper waste and save a few trees! Switch to online bill-pay and bank statements if possible and re-use bags whenever possible — the next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t forget to grab those reusable bags sitting in your trunk! Forget them (again)? It’s okay: plastic bags and cartons can easily be recycled, as many places offer convenient drop-off areas or bins.
Whatever you choose to do this month in honor of our #GetKind theme, do it with purpose and real intent. The betterment of the planet isn’t just about being able to walk a beach without tripping over beverage cans and trash — it’s about respecting the tiny corner of universe that we’re so fortunate to share with one another.
“Look again at that dot,” wrote the late Carl Sagan upon viewing Voyager 1’s distant image of our home planet. “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. … It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”