Friday, October 16, 2009

Reducing Our Impact But Increasing It In Another Way

We've heightened our consciousness about paring down on our own consumption, but there are those who don't have anything to give up. It is to them that we need to give more and work to expand our impact.

Who among us, as children, haven't rolled our eyes at the old adage, "Eat that, you know there are starving kids in (insert said country here)." While I was never gutsy enough to respond, I'm sure there were a few brave souls to quip, "Well, send them my leftovers then!" Of course, Mom or Dad never did that, and the eternal struggle of forcing kids to eat their veggies is a war that continues to be waged at dinner tables everywhere. Well, I take that back, not everywhere, because as cliched as the old saying is, it does hold a disturbing amount of truth. While some countries seem to struggle with almost too much of everything, and overwhelming amount of excess and waste they must strive to reduce, others are left wanting and would gladly accept the cast-offs of others more fortunate. The balance of over product consumption and desperate need continues to hang askew.

Being a frequent night owl, I am prone to seeing the late-night infomercials with celebrities standing next to poor, impoverished children begging us fat, greedy, slobs fortunate enough to be watching TV in the comfort of a heated room, to help. That with only pennies a day, we can make a difference. As horrible as it may sound, because the cameos are often so corny, they take away from the message and their ridiculous nature gives the viewer a sort of detachment for the tragedies set before us. It got me to thinking that there are wonderful charities with people constantly working to help those who need the bare essentials, but the real heroes never come on between sales pitches for The Magic Bullet and The Snuggie.

But how can these organizations reach the public and ask them for their hand to give what they can? It turns out I need only look to the computer; hasn't everything gone online these days anyways? There are numerous ways even the busiest (or those that are on a strapped budget themselves!) can help. There is this amazing little site,, where you test your vocabulary skills. For every correct word you define, 10 grains of rice gets donated to the United Nations World Food Program. You may laugh at a measly 10 grains, but that adds up to over 1.8 billions grains that users have donated thus far.

Of course there are bigger ways to get involved, with cash donations to numerous charities available. There is even that local canned food drive that goes to families not only miles away, but just down your street. You see, you don't need to look to the most extreme cases, plenty of others fall along the same scale of needing help on varying levels. While we work to improve the environment and reduce our impact by reducing our product consumption, we should work to address increasing our impact, but in a different sense. Giving to someone deserving not only helps them, but gives the donor their own sense of satisfaction. It's actually a proven fact that even something as small as helping a little old lady across the street improves your own mood and has physical benefits. Selflessness is inside us all; it's a part of the human condition. It really isn't that tough to find and it's only a matter of tapping into that.

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