A Weekly Column
Joseph Walker


I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m a born again environmentalist.  I mean, I care about Mother Earth and everything.  But I’m not going to get all weepy the next time I hear Joni Mitchell singing about how “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Even though it’s true what she says: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Still, with Earth Day looming this week I would just like to go on the record saying that I’m all for doing everything we can to make this planet a greener, safer, cleaner place upon which to live.  I turn off the water while I’m brushing my teeth.  I use recycled paper in my printer.  I cheer even louder when my NBA team wears their special “Go Green” uniforms.

My wife, Anita, even has us recycling the trash at home.  I still seem to be the only one in the family who is capable of actually taking the trash out, but everyone seems willing to dig in up to their elbows to recycle it.

All of which makes me wonder: what if we could drum up this kind of enthusiasm and support for cleaning up the social environment in which we live?

About 20 years ago John Javna wrote a nifty little book that became sort of a handbook for do-it-yourself environmentalists back in the day.  It’s called “50 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Save the Earth.”  For this new movement of social environmentalism I offer (with a tip of the hat to Javna) “10 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Save the Earthlings”:

1. Recycle Kindness.  When someone does something nice for you, consider it a challenge to do something nice for someone else.  And when someone is mean to you, repay them with kindness (trust me – it’s the best reaction.  You’ll be surprised how much a little kindness can improve a relationship.  And even if it doesn’t, you’ll have the satisfaction of driving the other person absolutely nuts.  Either way, you win).

2. Plant a Kiss.  Preferably on someone you love.  Or at least know.

3. Conserve Water.  Help dry a neighbor’s tear.

4. Stop Air Pollution.  Stifle those hurtful, discouraging words.  And if you simply must get them out of your system, write them down on a piece of paper and then rip it into tiny bits.  You can even throw them on the ground and stomp around on them if you want to.  It’ll make you feel better without having to make anyone else feel worse.  (Oh, and don’t forget to clean up those bits of paper – for recycling, of course.)

5. Consume Less.  Especially things that hurt you and the people around you.  You’re doing yourself a favor if you eliminate tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse from your life.  And I promise, the world will seem to be a sweeter, more pleasant place.  Eventually.

6. Get Tough on Polluters.  Refuse to watch television programs or movies that waste your time, drain your energy and make your brain go limp.

7. Don’t Use Plastic.  If you can’t afford to pull out the green stuff when the cashier asks “Cash or charge?” – do without.  Indebtedness can be devastating to your social health, and it’s never as easy to eliminate as you think it’s going to be.  Just ask President Obama.

8. Study Global Warming.  If we all became a little warmer to each other and more tolerant of other people and their customs, religions and definitions of the word “football,” maybe we wouldn’t have to worry so much about defending ourselves against prejudice and the ultimate Greenhouse Effect: nuclear conflict.

9. Garden Organically.  But keep the ol’ compost pit in the yard where it belongs.  No need to allow the . . . you know . . . stuff to pile up in the middle of your personal or professional relationships, where all it will fertilize is uncertainty and mistrust.  Be open, honest and candid, and let the “chips” fall where they may.  So to speak.

10. Take a Stand.  You’ll be surprised to find out how invigorating it can be to stand up for something you really believe in.  Of course, first you have to decide what that “something” is – which can be an exciting adventure all by itself.

But do it now.  Because of Earth Day.  Because you care.  Because you want to make the world a better place.  And because . . . well . . . “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

# # #

— © Joseph Walker

E-mail Joseph 

For more ValueSpeak, please visit

* * * CHECK OUT Joseph Walker’s LATest bookS! * * *

Click to find out more or order your copy of these uplifting collections:

Look What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit. 

"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen?  Home Remedies for an Ailing World."

Christmas on Mill Street - An All New Holiday Novel!