The Ripple Effect

I don’t know if it’s simply the election cycle or what, but more and more frequently the world seems to be spinning out of control.  Problems and/or issues everywhere.  Which one to prioritize?  How to “fix” what is going wrong?  Is it leaving you with an overwhelming sense of helplessness?  It does me, all too often.

Here is a list of the serious issues that are bombarding my senses:

  • The economy
  • Unemployment
  • Poverty
  • Wall Street’s continuing abuses
  • Wealth inequality
  • Debt
  • Offshore oil drilling
  • Fracking
  • Renewable energy
  • The condition of our oceans
  • Climate change
  • Endangered species
  • Pesticides, herbicides
  • Food safety
  • Pollution of our air and water
  • Violence against women throughout the world
  • Pay equity
  • Abortion rights
  • Access to contraception
  • ALEC’s legislative initiatives
  • ALEC’s co-opting of our political process
  • The need for campaign finance reform
  • Voting rights
  • Union busting
  • Immigration
  • Health and health care
  • The dismantling of our educational system
  • The privatization of the prison system
  • Hate speech & hate crimes
  • Gun rights & gun control
  • The billions of non-human animals killed each year worldwide, not only for food, but on our streets, in our homes and in our shelters
  • Wars, seemingly everywhere
  • The aftermath and attempted recovery following both natural and man-made disasters

There is little doubt in my mind that most people have shut down and they have chosen to ignore many, if not all of these critical issues.  For so many others they don’t have a choice.  They don’t even have the time or energy to think about them because they are struggling to survive, to put food on their tables, to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads.  Their focus is on their personal problems, not the bigger issues that are taking a heavy toll on their day to day lives, their future and the future of their families.

What can we do?  How can the majority of the people on the planet, especially those whose personal resources are sorely limited make a difference, not only in their own lives, but for the future of all life on our planet?  Here are a few simple each of us could try:

  • Educate ourselves so we make conscious decisions that will benefit our finances, our health and the impact we have on our environment, whether it’s our home, our community or the planet.
  • Reduce the amount of plastic, especially disposable plastic, that we buy.  For example, opt for fresh foods over processed, prepackaged foods when possible.  Use refillable containers instead of individual bottles of water. Avoid individually packaged food items – opt for a full size bag or container.  Separate into individual servings at home. Don’t buy disposable plates and cups.  Recycle and/or reuse plastic – and don’t forget to cut up those plastic rings that hold bottles and cans together – and return plastic bags to the stores for recycling.  Take reusable bags when we shop, instead of the store’s plastic bags.
  • Donate unused items to community groups or thrift stores.
  • Pick up trash when we see it: in our yards, in the parking lots, on the beach, or participate in an annual beach or waterway cleanup in our area.
  • Volunteer our time in schools, nursing homes, soup kitchens, for non-profits or wherever our time and expertise can be used.
  • Eat lower on the food chain.  It’s good for our health.  It’s good for the planet, and it’s good for the animals.
  • Write letters or send emails to our local media, to our elected officials, and to policy makers.  Sign up for the action alerts of groups who address issues of concern to us.
  • Adopt a homeless animal from a shelter or local rescue group.  It will save a life and the animal will enrich ours. And if you can’t adopt, consider volunteering for a local rescue group or even fostering an animal until he/she is ready to be adopted.

Many of you are probably already doing some or all of these, or you may be doing others that I haven’t mentioned.   By all means, if you have additional personal solutions or tips, please add them in the comments.  Most of these ideas will only cost a bit of your time.  Many of them will actually save money.   I know that even doing what seems like something small, I feel better.  I feel like I am doing my part, however little it might be.  We rarely know the full impact of the choices we make on a daily basis, or how our actions might influence others.  Even if we can’t always make waves, we can, at least, generate some ripples.

51 Comments on “The Ripple Effect”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Some times the issues humanity faces these days seem so overwhelming, it’s good to remind ourselves that really, what we can control is our own actions and approaches. I’ve tried very hard to scale back my life so that I don’t become a net loss to the planet. I’ve learned that it’s a lot nicer life when you’re not guided by managing, cleaning, and dealing with tons of stuff.

  2. Fannie says:

    Right on target……………..I took several years supply of empty and filled aerosol cans (paints, bug sprays, oven cleaner, etc) to the recycling center on Sat. Also had a coffee can filled with batteries, and boxes of paint cans, and thinners, etc. I also have three bins of food stuff, and have taken loads of winter clothing/shoes to thrift shop. I’ve borrowed books, movies and other items from neighbors, and it was a blast to put them all together and return them. I just did that yesterday…………feels good to down size, and get it together, and lose the stuff.

  3. Fannie says:

    I was curious, has anyone tried the Smartklean Laundry Ball? I have heard of it, and understand it last for over a year. I have the big plastic detergent “Kirkland” soap, and would consider the ball for just the two of us.

  4. Delphyne says:

    Nice column!

    I posted this Chris Hedges’ column over at your place and also to FB; thought I’d post the link here as I think it applies to the issues you’ve listed.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It sounds like Hedges is expecting a complete collapse of the government and economic system. That is the only way the changes he’s suggesting could happen.

      I used to think that we were going to collapse like the Soviet Union, but now it looks like we’re going stagger onward with even greater economic inequality. Of course if Romney gets elected, the collapse could come a lot sooner.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      I saw it this AM, but didn’t have a chance to read it, Delphyne. Hopefully tonight – after all the scooping is done. THANKS for the kind words & the link.

  5. RalphB says:

    The first thing to do is put aside all marketing and pay no attention to it whatsoever as it makes us all lousy consumerists.

    Wow, talk about f’ed up and BS …

    Gendered marketing: It’s not just for girls

    All Bran for Women. Feeling bloated? Sluggish? All Bran will give you the energy to cope with all that tricky multitasking. Why not try it with some yoghurt?


    • ecocatwoman says:


      The blog post at the link was good. Advertising – that’s a whole other blog post!

    • bostonboomer says:


      Did you see this one?

      Some Indian student who eat beef attacked by right wing vegetarian fascists? It would be the reverse here. Strange.

      • RalphB says:

        That’s really weird. Frankly some vegans I’ve talked with in Austin are quite fanatical about it. Who knows what we end up hating each other about next?

      • ecocatwoman says:

        As a vegetarian, and having read the blog post, I think I’d describe the “fascists” as religious extremists who are also vegetarian. Religious extremism, regardless of whatever mythic cult they follow, has and continues to do much damage. These attackers certainly don’t practice Ahimsa.

        And, Ralph, I’ve seen several comments on the web over the years about radical, crazed vegans. Personally I haven’t met any, but I don’t doubt they exist. I am a proponent of non-violence, but I’m certain if I saw someone hurting an animal, woman or child that I would step in and do my best to beat the living crap out of that person. You can imagine what I’d like to do to Ted Nugent with his gun.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        bb & Ralph, here’s another post on this “event”: I visit this site frequently because she has the most wonderful Indian vegan recipes & also writes about her dogs & cats.

      • RalphB says:

        Connie, They’re not crazed, just a little fanatical. Just some people moving toward eating meat as being a sin against animals etc. Once it hits a religious fervor, if it does, I expect problems but not before.

    • NW Luna says:

      Yeah, my first career was as a marketing copywriter. Aside from freelance, the company I worked for sold mainly functional products. But there is only so much stuff you actually need.

      We writers and designers would gripe about the spin we were asked to put on products. A truly useful and well-made product doesn’t need exaggerated claims. A crappy product can’t be changed by the hoopla. I eventually got tired of it all and transitioned into something more meaningful to me.

      I still laugh at how ridiculous most advertising is. Never have gotten around to owning a TV, so I’m saved from the worst of it. It’s a pity basic critical thinking skills aren’t taught in every high school.

  6. bostonboomer says:


    I like this post, because you enumerate problems and solutions. It gives me a sense of a tiny bit of control.

    For me, the overwhelming problems mean that I also need to focus on taking care of myself emotionally by relaxing, meditating, reading and the like. I know it’s selfish, but I do think we all need to do this to keep from going utterly insane.

    • NW Luna says:

      BB, good reminder that we do need to take care of ourselves. Otherwise we’re no use to anyone. I think it’s especially hard for individual women to take care of themselves — too used to doing it for others. And hard for men with a sense of responsibility.

      We can’t let the bastards get us down.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      I totally agree that it’s important to take care of ourselves. My chill out time tends to be while I’m scooping (perpetually it seems) the litter boxes. It’s my moment of Zen. Put a little James Taylor on & I will perk right up. He’s my go to guy when everything looks bleak.

      I see myself as a problem solver – at home & at work. But some problems have no solutions & others are just too big for one or a few people to fix. So, I find it helps to fix the ones I can and sometimes focusing on others’ problems & helping them helps me as well. Sometimes doing something, no matter how small, gives me a sense of success. We all need successes to keep going.

    • I agree with BB at 3:34. As I read on and on your list kept going…shaking my head and sighing with the kind of emotion that goes with feeling helpless.

      But you do give some positive ways that we can affect our own little bubble which when added up makes a difference in the big bubble scheme of things. Thanks Connie!

  7. RalphB says:

    This should be good news but with the GOP thugs in this state, it could turn into another debacle of some kind.

    Judge grants Planned Parenthood injunction

    A federal judge in Austin ruled today that state officials cannot exclude Planned Parenthood from a health care and contraception program for low-income women.

    The ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel was a victory for Planned Parenthood that may prove short-lived. State officials have warned that they would have to cancel the Women’s Health Program if Planned Parenthood prevailed in its lawsuit.

  8. RalphB says:

    This could put a crimp in Willard’s Etch-a-sketch plans.

    TP: Obama Defends Attack On Romney: ‘I Assumed’ He Meant It When He Said He Wouldn’t Get Bin Laden

    OBAMA: As far as my personal role and what other folks would do, I just recommend that everybody take a look at people’s previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to go into Pakistan and take out bin Laden. I assumed that people meant what they said when they said it, that’s been at least my practice. I said that we’d go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggested they’d do something else, then I’d go ahead and let them explain it.

    • Fannie says:

      Why don’t they talk about what if Obama had not gotten him? Then where does the conversation go?

  9. HT says:

    Connie, agree with everyone – great post. I would also add – shop at thrift shops. You’d be amazed at what people throw away. After years of spending hundreds of dollars on a business suit and designer dresses, I entered one after donating several bags of stuff and was amazed at what was contained within. Perhaps it’s because of where I live, however there were lightly used stuff mixed with stuff that had never been worn with the original sale tags still attached. Mind you, one has to spend some time going through the racks, but when my children were young and growing inches every single month, forget about years as a single sole support, I made the decision and thrift and consignment shops it was. My daughter still has the dress we bought at a consignment shop for her graduation. It was a one of a kind designer (well known designer) which was in perfect condition. The thrift shops in my neck of the woods also sell books, CDs and movies. I was in one just two weeks ago and they were selling a pastry hutch base – stainless steel top with drawers for flour and other ingredients, equipped with wheels for easy moving for $100.00. Years ago, I bought an old RCA record cabinet for $10.00, which I now use for my microwave. It takes a lot of luck and looking, but there are treasures there.

    Another place – every year in rural areas, there are auctions not just of farm equipment but of house contents. Garage sales are another good place to browse.

    Now about the rescue operation, do you suppose I could masquerade as one and advertise Zeke and Milly, the rescue fiends, for adoption?

    • ecocatwoman says:

      The first part – great suggestions. I have 2 friends that are constant garage sale shoppers & they’ve picked up incredible stuff for next to nothing. Me, not so lucky.

      The last part? I seem to remember you frantic when your son said he was taking Zeke. Personally, I don’t think there’s enough money in the world (especially with this rotten economy) to convince you to give up the fur-kids. Would you honestly trust a multi-millionaire Wall Street type (think Mittens & Anne) with your precious darlings?

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’m recycling my books by selling them. I try to price them fairly though. It’s nice to know someone will enjoy them instead of my putting them in the recycle bin.

        • ecocatwoman says:

          If and when I can get myself organized, that sounds like a good idea. I’m sure I have bunches I could part with relatively easily. It’s the whole packing/shipping thing that concerns me too.

      • Pilgrim says:

        Boomer, I’ve been wondering how you do this…..e-bay?

      • HT says:

        Never. Okay I love the rescue fiends, but dammit, why can’t they obey? I’ve been training dogs for 40 years, Milly’s impossible. Cats cannot be trained, but i was not prepared for a cat who thinks he is a dog. Sigh, I’m being controlled by four legged furry rescue fiends.

      • HT says:

        BB I purchased some of my most cherished books from a uni prof. who was doing exactly what you are doing. I could never have afforded them otherwise. So thank you for continuing the cycle.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’m mostly selling on Amazon now. I did sell some things on e-bay, but books seem to move faster on Amazon.

        You get used to the packing. I have a huge roll of bubble wrap and I buy bubble mailers in a box of 100, which makes them about 30 cents each. I buy packing tape cheap at Staples, and I save boxes and packing supplies whenever I get anything shipped to me.

        I take my packages to the P.O., but you can have them picked up. Amazaon and E-bay both let you buy postage and print it out. You can also print out packing slips. Most of my packages I can just drop in the drive-by mailbox. If they’re large, I have to park and put them in the big opening on the other side of the box. The only time I have to go inside is with really huge boxes and international packages. It’s pretty easy.

        The real trick is to have books that are worth something. There is a grocery store in my neighborhood that has book trading place, so I take books that aren’t worth anything but I think someone might want and drop them there. Paperbacks I can recycle too. But I still have stacks and stacks of books to go through!

      • Pilgrim says:

        Thanks, Boomer.

    • Seriously says:

      Also, just being organized helps. I was helping some people with a home improvement project, they went to get supplies and before they came back I found all of the items they were out buying, many of them still in the package. Keeping things in clear view and making lists of what staples you’ve stocked up on helps to eliminate accidental overconsumption. Also, Clotheslines. Many people who don’t own washers can still cut down on their laundromat bills by finding space for a small clothesline.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Seriously, I did not inherit the organized gene. Try as I might, I always fail. And living in the same house for over 30 years – well, need I say more. I keep threatening to pull everything into the yard & set it on fire – but, of course, that’s a pipe dream.

        I have wanted a clothesline since I moved into this house & have never gotten around to it. I need to move it to the top of my list. I think even I could manage to install one myself. It’s a great way to save money, conserve energy & not have to replace my dying dryer.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Check this out: How cool? A solar powered lawnmower. Would go well with the old fashioned solar powered clothes dryer, the clothesline. don’t you think?

      • HT says:

        Seriously, I had forgotten about clotheslines, as it’s not usually time for me to put mine out. This year, with the funky weather, I’m behind the time.
        Connie, get a clothesline – saves mucho electricity costs, and the clothes smell so good. Only comment, the towels are not as soft as those you put in a dryer, but oh, the scent.

  10. ecocatwoman says:

    I missed most of it this AM, but Diane Rehm discussed VAWA in her first hour. Audio should be up now. And On Point tonight, Paul Krugman is the guest.

    On Morning Edition, Steve Inskeep interviewed Thomas Mann & Norman Ornstein about their book, Even Worse Than It Looks: He asked them to read a specific passage:

    “One of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition,” they write in their new book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.

    • RalphB says:

      They had a great piece in the WaPo a couple of days ago. Basically said, it’s all the Republicans fault and the only way out was to beat them so badly at the polls they had to rethink the wingnuttery.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Yeah & one of them (sorry I don’t know which one, but you probably do) is a conservative with the American Enterprise Institute. I get all happy inside every time a Republican takes their own party to task for being the dim-witted, mean-spirited, anti-science creeps that they are. .

      • HT says:

        The only problem – they’ve (repubs and their media pals) been indoctrinating the wingnut demographic since saint raygun; perhaps not overtly directly, but by indirectly endorsing their mouthpieces – Rush et al, utilizing marketing agents (euphemistically described as policy advisors/consultants) – Rove et al and accepting/endorsing the policies designed by corporate wingnuts like ALEC. How do they reverse course when their major base that they consciously built – blindly hoping/believing that it was the majority of American citizens – is what they are trying to reverse direction against? I’ve tried to row upstream – something about those rapids downstream as I recall…..

      • bostonboomer says:

        Kat wrote about it a couple of days ago. I looked at the book and was pretty turned off when in the introduction they said they wanted Congress to pass the cat food commission recommendations. Norman Ornstein is a little too conservative for me. He’s at the Heritage foundation, you know. I don’t know about Mann. Maybe I’ll read it if the Kindle price drops a few bucks.

        • ecocatwoman says:

          How did I miss that? I remember she did a post about Draper’s (I think that’s his name) book because I also saw him on The Daily Show.

  11. Beata says:

    Excellent post, Connie, with lots of good ideas.

    I especially liked your suggestion about volunteering in nursing homes. My mother has been in a nursing home for several years now. Many of the volunteers there are elderly themselves! It seems like younger people ( under age 65 ) don’t visit nursing homes much except when a loved one is a patient – and maybe not even then. I’m always surprised that some patients get no visitors at all. It is heartbreaking.

    So if any of you have the time, please consider volunteering at a nursing home, particularly one that takes Medicaid patients. They are the poorest and often lack the staff to provide adequate recreational or social activities. The patients love to have people come to sing or play music ( big band is popular because it brings back good memories ) or read to them. Just sitting quietly and listening to life stories or holding a frail hand can mean the world to patients. And they love it when visitors bring young children or pets ( if well-behaved! ). If you don’t have time to volunteer, please consider donating books, magazines, homemade afghans, quilts, or lap robes. Alll of these things would be appreciated. Call a local home and ask what they need. You won’t regret it!

  12. While looking for things to do in DC, we decided to try and get a White House tour, but to do that you have to write your congress critter, and since my angry letters and email are constantly going to the idiots who represent us in Banjoville, we are having my GOP husband do the deed. Let’s see what happens.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Hope you are going to visit Arlington National Cemetery. I love going there. Take the tour of Robert E Lee’s home – it’s wonderful & such a lovely spot overlooking the city.

    • Pywacket says:

      I liked the Newseum and the Spy Museum. Always spend most of my time at the National Gallery and whichever of the Smithsonians are open. Last time I was there, I did the tram tour that leaves from Union Station (which is a cool place). Went up into Georgetown and embassy row to look at the big old houses as well as around the mall. Unfortunately I took the next to last tour so I didn’t really get on and off much.