Top 5 Things a Secular Humanist Can Do to Start the New Year off Right

by emmaspeaks

Here are five things that every Secular Humanist should have on their list of New Year resolutions.

You Can Do It!

2011 has been quite a year for most people around the world. It has been an eye-opening year—one full of wins and disappointments—a year for struggle, protest, anger, and just plain being fed up with the way the world works as of right now. It’s time for change. This is a daunting task. Each person may ask him or herself, what can I possibly do to make an impact on anything?

This is a question that has been asked many a time by individuals that thought one person can’t possibly make a difference, but as we all have seen this past year with the Occupy Movement, each person acting on his own within a bigger group towards a common goal definitely makes an impact. So here is my list of the top 5 things a Secular Humanist can do next year to keep this ball rolling. By the way, these are things that I am already doing, so I am practicing what I preach, tee-hee.

One Step at a Time

1. If you haven’t already, transfer from a big bank to a credit union. Since September, due to Bank of America’s little $5 monthly fee (which they rescinded, by the way), over 650,000 people closed their bank accounts and switched over to either a credit union or a local bank by November 5. That was before the big Bank Transfer Day that, by some estimates, rounded that number out to one million. The message here was received loud and clear by big banks as Bank of America wasn’t the only big bank to rescind their monthly debit card fees.

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You've Heard This One Before

2.  Stop drinking bottled water. That’s a start, anyway. This past year, and for several years now, there has been a concentrated effort to raise awareness of just how big the impact of plastic bottles in landfills is. You’ve probably heard this all before, but in case you haven’t, it takes each little plastic bottle 100,000 years to break down and decompose. You can avoid that by buying a steel reusable bottle and just refilling it with tap water. And guess what—they’re really cool! They come in all kinds of different colors and designs. You can get really pricey ones personalized, too. The point isn’t to spend a lot of money, here—it’s to stop spending money on something that will end up in a landfill. So even if you decide to splurge a little on a Klean Kanteen, the money you will save in the long run will be worth it. And you can feel good about yourself for not polluting our planet.

Second Verse, Same as the First

3. If you have already marked number two off your list it’s time to take the next step—recycle. Now, with most cities offering recycle bins and weekly pick up—there’s no excuse not to. Before, I used to be a recycler wannabe. I would preach to everyone else about it, and even made the attempt to recycle at home, myself, but it was just too time consuming to load everything into the car and drive to a recycling plant, so I had stacks of newspaper, big trash bags full of aluminum cans, and tons of broken down cardboard boxes just sitting on my porch. With the city picking it up for me now there is no excuse. And you will find, as I have, that after a while this will become a competition, almost. How many things can you avoid throwing away in a week? My kids and I even find uses for things that don’t really qualify for the city recycle bins (most still don’t allow glass). Once you start recycling, it will become a habit and you will even feel bad if your trash can actually fill up in a week.

On to More Serious Things

4. These last two items will take a little more discipline and determination, but they can be done, so if you’ve made it this far with a smile on your face, keep that same fire lit. For no. 4 I’m asking that you look into buying eggs from a reputable farm that does not keep its hens caged. This one is a little harder to do. It will require some time and effort on your part, but you will feel better every time you have eggs for breakfast. Most people get their eggs from a supermarket, like everything else, and really don’t stop to think about where the eggs come from. I’m sure if you thought about it for just a minute you would know that they don’t come from happy chickens frolicking about on a sunny farm. No. It’s almost 99.9% guaranteed that those eggs come from an abused animal, stuffed in a cage big enough for about four hens, but sharing it with about ten others. These hens, from the second they are born, are condemned to a sad existence—but don’t take my word for it—look up the facts. Mercy for Animals is a good place to start. And every time you purchase eggs from a supermarket, you are voting with your hard earned money that this is okay with you. So, go to a farmer’s market, or look into getting chickens of your own. Many people don’t know that even within city limits, most cities allow for at least a few hens, as long as their coop is 100 feet away from the house. I was pleased to find that out about my city, and I now am the proud owner of 13 chickens in Kansas City, just five minutes away from downtown. This is a more dramatic step towards awareness, but I assure you your efforts will not go unnoticed.

5. Finally, if you are still with me this next step will really require commitment. But let me just say in advance that this suggestion does not require you to give anything up. Just like the suggestions before, I am offering an alternative. So, if you like to eat meat, I strongly urge you to look into buying only Halal or Kosher from a reputable farm where you know the animals have been treated humanely. Just like with eggs, buying your meat at the supermarket removes you from the horrific conditions that the animal had to live in and the horrible way it was surely killed. It is too easy to just run by the store and pick up some ground beef for dinner when you don’t have to think that the animal you are going to eat was probably confined to an area so small it couldn’t move for its entire existence. It was probably beaten regularly as animals that are raised for food are not usually considered “living things.” And when it came time to slaughter it, it was still alive as its throat was slit. Once again I strongly recommend Mercy for Animals’ website for more information on this topic.

Well, this is my top 5 list for 2012. Remember, I’m not asking that anyone give up anything, I’m only asking that you really think about the way the world works and ask yourself, is that okay with you?

Updated: 12/27/2011, emmaspeaks
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katiem2 on 02/10/2012

Very nice and helpful reminders as to what we can and should be doing. Loving the planet and thinking about it's well being. Great article. Thanks for the positive list of action.

TerriRexson on 01/03/2012

Thanks Emma. I was just surprised as you use secular humanist in the title and then seem to support religious ritual killing of animals.

emmaspeaks on 01/02/2012

Terri, I guess the issue I have isn't with the method of killing so much as it is with the quality of life of the animal. I know that most halal meat comes from little farms that don't confine their animals. I'm not arguing that people should be vegan because I know it isn't that simple, but at least investigate where your meat comes from. I'm pretty sure if everyone had to kill their food eating meat would be greatly reduced. If everyone had no other choice but to buy a cow, bring it home, look into it's eyes, then slaughter it...people wouldn't want to do that too often. But, I also do not feel that this would put an end to eating meat forever. So, my suggestion is to at least only buy meat from farms where you know that the animal had a good quality of life. It seems kind of pointless to care about the method of killing an animal if that animal has had a horrible existence up until then. That was all I was trying to say by suggesting halal and kosher, but the best thing anyone can do is investigate where they get their meat from. Thank you for your comment!

TerriRexson on 01/02/2012

I'm a secular humanist and agree with some of the things on your list, but halal meat? Really? I'm no expert but I regularly see articles that explain how cruel it is to slaughter animals without stunning them first. I've always avoided meat that I know to be halal.

Lissie on 01/02/2012

I completely amazed at the ability of the marketing industry to persuade people to pay for water in country where it comes out of the tap FOR FREE! I buy one bottle of water and use it for several months before it gets too grubby and then toss and repeat!

Lissie on 01/02/2012

I completely amazed at the ability of the marketing industry to persuade people to pay for water in country where it comes out of the tap FOR FREE! I buy one bottle of water and use it for several months before it gets too grubby and then toss and repeat!

emmaspeaks on 12/28/2011

You are quite welcome, Michaela! Thanks for sharing, too.

Michaela on 12/28/2011

Thank you for this thought-provoking article! I don't eat meat or eggs, I recycle, don't drink water from plastic bottles - and I'm in the process of transferring my money to an environmentally conscious bank. Great to know that this makes for a good start of the new year. :)
I find your suggestions very important and I'm going to share them with others, too. Thanks!

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