September 21 is reconized by the United Nations as International Peace Day:
As such, I thought I'd take a moment and share with you a few steps with which you might very well lead yourselves and the world in general toward a brighter tomorrow. I know this is all little hokey; but it's heart felt and if you've read through this far, you might as well see what I've got to say on the matter, right? I promise, there will be no hippy-dippy tree hugging, hands across america type shenanigans and no religion. That was all a little before my time and I've got enough on my plate without worrying about anyones immortal soul and whatnot. Instead, this article will focus on practical things you can do with minimal effort to make your life and the lives of those in your community a little richer.
Some things may apply to you, some may not; that's life. But I do hope I'm able to come up with something you can take away from this and say, "Hey, maybe I'll just do that." Of course, that may be just wishful thinking. Let's find out together, shall we? Please, if you think of anything or have anything constructive to say, by all means leave a comment and start a conversation. Good communication is a great avenue toward peace after all.
Without any further adieu.
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Step 1: Donate.
Your time, your money, your red cells, your organs. There are any number of ways one can donate. You should explore any and all avenues that interest you and none that don't. Myself, I donate items to my local thrift shop at least once a month, but that's me. I've lived a pretty interesting life and, due in part to the things I've experienced, I can't stand clutter. So, rather then relegating things to the attic I do not have, everything gets bundled up prim and proper for donation. When I feel like I've gotten a good load, off to the thrift store I go.
You can donate your time as well through volunteering. Why not visit a local soup kitchen or food bank? This is a great time of year to clean out your pantry "Are you really going to eat all those pickled artichokes?" As autumn arrives and with cooler temperatures, you can keep that which you're not gonna eat in your car and wait till you find a covenant drop off without having to worry if it's going to keep. Our local Starbucks accepts donations on behalf of the local women's shelter. Yet another reason for my morning cup of joe (i.e. pumpkin spiced latte)! Just a little food for thought.
The American Red Cross; http://www.redcross.org/blood is always looking looking for donors. Typically you're in and out with an appointment (and make an appointment!). They've got seasoned phlebotomist on hand to liberate your fluids and send you on your merry. I even hear tell there there are places where you can sell blood. Personally they had me at free cookies and OJ- different strokes for different folks. However you do it, giving blood can help save lives. For those taking the religious stance... Eh, to each their own.
Clothing is another biggie, "People be looking to pop some tags, yo!" Seriously though, going through your closet and paring down can be of mutual benefit in a huge way. You de-clutter your closet and in turn get to go out and buy more stuff while the stuff you bought and no longer need gets to make it's way into someone else's closet. It's a migration of clutter. It's what the clutter wants really...
I pay pretty close attention to my outerwear and sweaters in particular as I figure you can always strip down a layer or two when your warm but staying warm when you're freezing can be another thing entirely. Sadly, there are more people living out on the streets then we care to admit. They need warm cloths too!
Step 2: Shop Thrift
I love the thrift store, I do. There's nothing quite like the feeling of coming home with something newly yours, that you got at a pittance of it's retail value. Granted you may have to sift through a bit of manure before finding your pony, but if you keep on digging you're bound to be riding in no time. Great deals aren't the only reason to shop thrift. Some thrift stores donate a portion of their proceeds (albeit sometimes a vary small portion) to a local charity; while others either employ or help to employ the less fortunate. My local Goodwill for instance has a career center that helps people find jobs in the local community free of charge.
Also, shopping thrift keeps some items out of landfills. *Of course, it can be argued that it also causes the loss of countless jobs overseas when foreign countries import american surplus textiles for pennies on the preverbal dollar causing it to be more cost effective to import them then to cultivate their own textile industry; But hey, you can't solve all the worlds woes.
Another great thing about thrift stores is that a lot of the time, if you manage to get over the concept that you'd be buying used merchandise, you start thinking of stuff that you no longer need and that brings you right back to step two: Donate. There's just something about seeing all of the knick knacks and randomized acoutrama out there on display; that, for me at least, makes me ask myself "Do I really need that?" once I get back home.
Lastly, there's the savings. The more you save on necessities the more you can spend on the niceties(See step 5).
Step 3: Show Your Local Library Some Love!
If you don't have a library card, for shame! Libraries are a fruit left withering on the vine in some communities. They're a bastion of knowledge and more importantly they're free! All you need is a key to the city Aka: A library card.
After attaining said card, mosey round the place for a spell. This is, after all, your Library (Your tax dollars hard at work). Some libraries rent movies and CDs; others have cyber centers where they permit internet access, which may very well be the only access some people have. Get to know your local library and let it get to know you.
While we're on the topic of libraries I'd like to take a second to talk about books and the equitable distribution of knowledge (minor rant forthcoming). As I've said, I love thrift stores so it stands to reason that I'd like book sales, flea markets and the like as well. Well, I've seen, and on more than one occasion, re-sellers (vultures) scanning barcodes and blindly filling whole shopping carts with books to resell online. Now, I'm not against someone making a living, but essentially stripping the wealth of knowledge from one area and imposing the necessity of internet access, credit cards and shipping addresses is like clear cutting a forest before it's begun to take root.
Please help prevent literary larceny and strike through the barcodes on the backs of books you donate! Let one black mark help erase another and keep the books where people less fortunate can have access to them. The better educated your neighbors, the more well off your community in the long run.
Step 4: Free-cycle, Recycle & Up-cycle
We'd all love to think we're doing our part to help save the environment, preventing deforestation thereby stemming the production of green house emissions; Thus, single handedly ending global warming every time we lackadaisically toss our empty half calf triple grande mocha latte into the green bin instead of the brown. But the fact of the matter is that recycling is like everything else in America, a business. Carbon is being burnt to haul our recyclables from our homes to the recycling plant, again to sort and process them, and again to ship them back out to be turned into yet more consumables... Hell It takes a fair amount of carbon to make those nifty blue bags and bins we all love so much I'd recon. Am I anti-recycling? Of course not, just don't go kidding yourself into thinking that you're saving the world.
Instead of always going straight to the blue bins and bags when it comes to your recyclables, try thinking of ways in which you might reuse them yourself. Here's some nifty ibles I've come across:
Paying to have your recyclables taken away? If those ibles don't get your creative juices flowing, bag em' and leave em' out by the curb (Cans and bottles, I mean). If you live in the kind of neighborhood I do, they'll be gone in a day. Some people depend on the presumed laziness of those more well off then they.
Oh and for those thinking that, "That'll attract the wrong element..." Have you ever tried to feed your kids (or yourself for that matter) 5 cents at a time? I haven't, though I'd wager those that do, work a whole hell of a lot harder then I! But hey, do what you're gonna do. We can all only go so far.
Step 5: Shop Small, Invest in People.
From farmers' markets and craft fairs to food trucks and craft beers, there are any numbers of ways to balk convention, and invest in those around you rather then line the pockets of some greedy corporate fat cat. You may pay a little more but with all that money you saved shopping thrift and free-cycling you should come out all right.
One of the biggest reasons to give indepents' your business: quality. There used to be a time when everything was actually crafted by an artisan of whom that particular item was their speciality. Sadly, that was long ago. Now people are less concerned with quality and more concerned with fealty to brand recognition. My wife spends anywhere from 8-20 hours crafting her necklaces by hand, selling them at a pittance of their actual worth through her shop on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/originalbeading Where as some people would rather buy a chintzy piece of mass produced "Made in China" malarky for twice the price simply because it harbors the name of some fashion designer who, though may have conceptualised it, never had a hand in this actual fabrication. Makes me a little ill.
Buying from a person rather then a company has other benefits as well. When you're dealing with a person you have a more direct customer experience which, for me at least, beats the pants off of waiting on hold for 20 minutes to talk to a faceless customer service rep halfway around the world I wouldn't know from Adam. When you're buying from a person who takes pride in their craftsmanship they genuinely (generally) want you to be happy with your purchase; whether that be jewelry or Heirloom artisanal veggies.
Buying from people also encourages diversity and advancement through necessity in a free market. When you've got to compete for customers you work that much harder to ensure you've got what they're looking for and if not that your well on you way that having something they'll want tomorrow. When people would rather spend their hard earned dollars in the big box stores we're all relegated to what they can make the highest profit margins on. Innovation comes from people; give people a chance.
Step 6: Be Prepared...
As it stands a fair majority of the ibles I've contributed to this site have been oriented towards preparedness. I strongly believe that everyone should be prepared in the sense that you have the tools and skills necessary to take care of yourself and others when necessary.
Preparedness doesn't have to be the extremism depicted on TV. I, myself, am not a tin foil hat enthusiast, instead I pride myself knowing that if something goes wrong I have tools and knowledge with which to weather the storm. Some quick practical examples:
Rescuing my then wife to be's wedding dress from the rain because I had bin liners (trash bags) in the car.
Having water put back for when the water was shut off in my building so they could work on the plumbing enabling me to still have my coffee and flush the toilet.
Having and knowing how to use an epi-pen to save myself from anaphylaxis
Saving Thanksgiving diner by having two extra burners with which to cook a couple last minute side dishes, yum!
Any number of times I've had a bandaid, flashlight, or pen when I really needed it.
I like being able to be there for my family and friends and knowing that they'll be there for me in my times of need. I hope we never have to abide any type of natural disaster or other assorted craziness. But if we do, I want to be able to protect and aid those I know and those I've yet to meet.
Step 7: Conclusion.
That's it, I'm spent. I know it was a little lovey-dovey and, I'm okay with that. I hope I've inspired some of you to go out and do something, anything to help and make the world a better and brighter place. If not then I hope in the least you got some joy out of reading this ible as it was a joy to write!
I just wanted to thank my wife for helping me with the editing of this article and to thank you all again for having read it. I'm greatly appreciative of the Instructables community for giving me the chance to write and get my thoughts down in a fashion I feel comfortable with. Cheers y'all!