WORK-LIFE BALANCE / DEC. 05, 2015
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Things Even An Idiot Can Do to Save The World

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Saving the world would be pretty badass. And someone has to do it, so why not you? Well, for starters, it requires a level of selfishness that many of us just don’t possess. We live in a “me, me, me” society. On top of that, short of having superpowers like Spider-man or Captain America, it can be damn difficult to do.

Maybe you could go the philanthropist route instead. Donate millions to worthy causes, charities, and do-gooders. That’s easy, and you get to look like a hero in front of the masses. It does, of course, require that you have millions of dollars to spare. Do you (if so, I am in need and would be happy to widely and vocally sing your praises)? If not, that’s out, too.

See Also: 10 Ways You Can Save the World

Next up is invention. You could create a product or medical treatment that saves lives, or resources, or improves the condition of the planet in some way. It’s noble, worthwhile, and dignified. But it does demand a certain level of intelligence, creativity, and technical skill in...something. And not everyone has all three of those (or even one of them).

So what’s an idiot (and I mean that as a term of endearment) to do? Believe it or not, there’s plenty that everyone can do to literally save the world, regardless of background, location, financial situation, or IQ. And it takes little time or effort.

Even if you’re poor, lazy, and have delusions of adequacy, you can still help out. These suggestions are so simple, even a monkey could do them. A very bright and well-trained monkey, but a monkey nonetheless.

Are you better than a monkey? Are you going to let him strut around like he owns the place? Of course not. Here’s how to knock him down a few pegs: the idiot’s guide to saving the world.

1. Donate Blood

Blood: it’s in you to give. And no matter where you live, there’s always a need for more blood donation. You can actually sell your blood in some countries like Russia, China, Germany, and the US (where pay is between $25-50). Other places have made it illegal to receive remuneration for blood, including Brazil, Australia, Britain (who still donate 2 million units per year), and Canada. No matter, you’ll get a cookie and/or glass of juice at a minimum, and the good feeling that comes with helping your fellow humans. The American Red Cross says that someone needs blood every 2 seconds in the US, and they need roughly 41,000 blood donations every single day to keep up with demand. A single car accident victim can require up to 100 units during recovery. That’s a lot of blood, and the situation is the same all over the world.

What could be easier than sitting somewhere in a chair, relaxing, while you donate something that you have in excess to help save a life? That’s idiot-proof. Whether you should be paid is subject to debate (see Blood Money: Is It Wrong to Pay Donors?), but that shouldn’t stop you from being a giver. Do it. Do it today.

2. Avoid Palm Oil

Palm oil is refined from the fruit of the oil palm tree (makes sense, right?). It’s an edible vegetable oil product found in many, many items at the grocery store and beyond, including food, cosmetics, cleaning products, and toothpaste. It’s present in an estimated 40-50% of household products in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. In short, it’s everywhere. The plant is native to Africa, but is now grown in Africa, North and South America, and Asia. Indonesia and Malaysia account for 85% of global production.   

But so what? The problem is that the farming methods are not environmentally-friendly or sustainable. Deforestation, climate change, and the destruction of animal and indigenous people’s habitats have all been directly linked to its production. Some data shows that 50,000 orangutans have died in the past two decades because of the expanding palm oil industry in Sumatra (and they don’t have the numbers to support a hit like that).  

You can help. Avoid palm oil whenever possible. It can appear under many different names. Don’t support an industry that pays little or no attention to the damage it does. At a minimum, look for either the RSPO label (certified sustainable palm oil) or the Green Palm label (manufacturers working towards their certification) to limit the negative impact.

3. Recycle

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We’ve been hearing this one for years. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. This is one of the best, no-hassle, little effort ways to save the planet we call home. You can recycle metals, paper, glass, and plastics. Your community most likely has a blue or green box program already, so make sure you’re participating. All it requires is that you toss your recyclables into the recycle box instead of the trash. Easy.

Just how much does it help? Consider: an aluminum can (we use about 80 BILLION each year) can be recycled indefinitely with no loss of quality, and recycling it takes less than 5% of the energy costs required for refining new aluminum from ore. Paper and plastic products can also be recycled, although they do degrade in quality over time. Still, recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times saves up to 75,000 trees. Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles...each hour!  Recycling those bottles uses half the energy required for burning them. The EPA says that recycling efforts in the US alone reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to removing 38 million cars from the roads. Wow.

Our world has a finite supply of the resources we use. Recycling works. Let’s help it out.

4. Turn Off or Down

Lights. The water. Other appliances. It all helps.

The average house has about 40 items plugged in at all times (kitchen appliances, televisions, computers, gaming consoles, office equipment, cable boxes, electric toothbrushes). Ever heard of phantom or vampire power? Those 40 things continue to draw electricity...even when they’re turned off. It can account for up to 10% of your power consumption. So unplug them. While you can’t very well unplug something like your fridge, you can unplug devices and chargers, washer and dryer, printer, and so on. Or, for a bit more convenience, use a powerstrip that allows you to turn off several things with the flip of a switch.

In terms of water, control how much you use and waste. Turn off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth or scrubbing your face. Take shorter showers. Get yourself a low-flow showerhead (available at any home hardware store, and dead simple to install...even an idiot can do it). I’ll stop short of recommending the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” philosophy for the toilet. Water is, and is becoming even more so, one of our most valuable and crucial resources. Protect it.

We need to conserve. Be a hero and do so.

5. Stay Cool

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Heating and cooling take a lot of energy. Wear an extra layer during the colder months, and take advantage of summer breezes during the warmer ones (get a good cross breeze going by opening multiple windows and doors). Adjusting your thermostat by just one degree can save up to 10% of your overall heating/cooling costs. Less expensive for you, and less strain on the system.

Consider using a timer or smart thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature at night (turn it way down) or during the day when you’re at work.

Save money. Save the planet. It’s a win-win situation.

6. Just Be Nice

That’s it. Be nice. Play fair. Treat others with the respect and kindness that they deserve. We are all in this together, no matter our skin colour, religion, citizenship, or language. We can all make a huge impact in the lives of others by just being nice. Toss the bigotry. Stop the racism. Forget about the tired, incorrect stereotypes. Now, more than ever before, the world needs us to come together. Be kind, be compassionate, and be friendly. Full stop.

See Also6 Inventions That Are Making the World a Better Place

We have one planet. One. There may come a time in the distant future when we have need and the technological know-how to find another one, but we’re not there yet. This planet is rather amazing. Beautiful. Full of surprises. She’s worth saving and protecting

Any idiot can see that, and any idiot can do that. So be an idiot.

Any other tips? What can we, everyday idiots, do to make a difference? Leave your suggestions in the comments below...

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