Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

Small Things

The following is a guest post by Tori Christensen:


“Give,” said the little stream

As it hurried down the hill;

“I’m small, I know, but wherever I go

The fields grow greener still.

— Fanny J. Crosby “ ‘Give,’ said the Little Stream”


I think of this song often in my little efforts that I make every day. My efforts to be kinder. My efforts to smile at those I pass in the grocery store. And definitely my efforts to make the world a greener place. If embroidered pillows were still cool, I’d embroider it on pillow and leave it where I could see it. We are all small, but all of our small efforts together make a difference. I truly believe, as God has said, “Out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).

Going green need not be overwhelming. You don’t even have to do everything “green”–any effort helps. And you know what I’m noticing more and more? Going green has benefits beyond helping the environment. Some examples from my own life:

  1. Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 11.04.46 PMHot showers. I have this section of my back that has itched for three years straight. I have no skin conditions so I’m starting to suspect that the length and temperature of my showers and the water hitting my back right in this place for the majority of my shower is the culprit. By cutting back on both the temperature and length of my shower, I not only conserved water, but I also cut down on my energy consumption from the water heater, lowered the gas bill, AND eliminated that darn itchy spot.
  2. Napkins. I was raised in a home that used cloth napkins. My mom had a different colored napkin ring for each kid so we only washed the napkins when they looked sufficiently used, we always knew whose was whose, and they also acted as a sort of place card at the dinner table. My dad told us that he knew my mom was a classy lady, the sort of lady he wanted to marry, because the first time she made him dinner, she used cloth napkins. So you know, besides cutting down on your waste, cloth napkins could help you snag that special someone, or at least impress your dinner guests. I’m putting some new ones on my birthday list–how about you? And hey, you can even make napkin origami if you get bored.
  3. Grocery bags. I’m sure you have heard this one before, but I’m impressed over and over how much more efficient reusable grocery bags are than the paper or plastic bags they provide at the store. I can put so much more in one of those bags and can carry them further and easier, without having them cut into my hands or burst apart. I can get all my groceries in the house in one to two trips, minus the milk, and I shop for a family of four. I can’t seem to save time on anything with young kids, so saving time carrying groceries into the house, even if it’s just a couple minutes, is super.
  4. Diapers. I could write a whole blog post about cloth diapering (and maybe I will), but its not nearly as expensive or disgusting as people think it is. It is quite doable. You never have to run to the store for diapers; it may eliminate some forms of diaper rash; your baby will always look cute, even if they are only wearing a diaper; and my husband swears they smell way better than disposable diapers. Cloth diapers may not be the simplest thing to do on this list, but think of all those diapers that you are not sending to the landfill.
  5. Simplify life. If you have fewer places to go and less things to buy, you will save time, money, and cut down on pollution. You may have time for that book, or that child, or that activity that always causes you to say, “Oh I don’t have time to do that.” If you buy less, you will have less to throw away. If you have less pressure to go, go, go, you will have more time to appreciate God’s gifts that are all around us.

If helping the earth has so many benefits, why not give it a try? You can save time, save energy (yours and the planet’s), save money, and save your itching back.

If you’re just starting your efforts to live with more thought about how your actions impact the environment, pick one thing as a place to start. If you are an old hat, pick something new thing to do.

I hope my ideas have sparked some ideas in you. Share below what you are doing so we can all learn together.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed in this big world, with its perceived “big” problems, but our loving Heavenly Father has made us agents unto ourselves, to enact small and simple, daily change within our spheres of influence. We are small, but together we can make the world greener.

Tori loves to ponder and garden while her daughters play in their sandbox. She is an avid gardener, lifelong learner, and family member. She’d much rather be outside than in, even if that means she’s weeding. Her current goals are learning to “smile, breathe, and go slowly” (Thich Nhat Hanh).

  • Brigham Daniels says:

    Tori, I thought this was a really fun read. I particularly appreciate your willingness to ask for more without making me feel guilty. As far as what I am doing, I am trying to rid myself out of the bad habit of not taking fabric bags to the store. This past week I remembered to bring my bags, and it made me happy.

  • Tori says:

    I’m glad! Guilt never motivates very well, does it? It mostly just makes you feel guilty.

  • PeterA says:

    One thing I like about this post is that it highlights things that we, ourselves, can do to improve the world. There is a common human tendency to focus on what *other people* should be doing, and to gloss over our own obligations. This post puts the initial focus where it belongs.

  • Heather says:

    I love this! I’ve been thinking about this exact same thing lately, actually–stewardship can be really paralyzing if one extrapolates “I care about the world” to “I must change all aspects of every bad habit at once, or risk being a hypocrite.” I was talking online to someone about Meatless Mondays (all for it, though we eat meatless most days anyways because developing island nation = expensive meat) and they pointed out that if everyone were to participate, it’d reduce the environmental impact of animal farming by 1/7th. That’s huge! That’s cool! And it’s totally feasible!

    I think it’s probably also good to remember that one doesn’t have to make *every* possible sacrifice in order to be a good steward. I use public transportation and am very careful about electricity consumption, so I feel okay about my hot showers. I buy local produce 99% of the time, so I feel okay buying a $3 imported apple every couple of months. 🙂 One doesn’t have to eliminate all pleasures in pursuit of righteous stewardship!

  • Tori says:

    PeterA, I agree with you. The only people we have total control over is ourselves, and like Heather says, if we all do a little bit, we’ll make a huge impact. That makes me feel powerful! I believe that we have come far already. When I was searching for a house, I wanted to live in a city that provided recycling. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that city recycling is fairly ubiquitous in my area. And when my recycling can fills up four times as fast as my garbage can, I have a visual of my impact, how much waste is not being sent to sit in a landfill.