Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth, Minnesota

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Choose Three Things!
by Holly Henry, Marketing Director

The Lake Superior Zoo has a Green Team – a committee of people representing various areas of the zoo whose job it is to make our staff squirm if they get caught putting compostable items in the regular trash bin.

While we joke about this, it really is the Green Team’s responsibility to keep our staff accountable and aware of how their actions affect our campus and the world around us.

During the past year our Green Team leaders have presented us with a variety of challenges, one of which was to carry recyclable containers in our cars so we could use them for leftovers at restaurants. This, of course, is a much better option than bringing home more Styrofoam, paper or plastic.

This was a fun challenge for our staff. Some of us were impressively committed to it. Others, such as me, failed dismally. OK, I did it once. The rest of the time I forgot my containers, and was then shamed into eating all of the food on my plate so I wouldn’t have to be seen leaving a restaurant with an environmentally unfriendly container.

Let’s just say I had gained four pounds before realizing I sucked at this Green Team challenge and needed to find other ways to contribute to society.

So, I decided to make a difference by choosing three Earth friendly things to do on a regular basis. I chose to shop more carefully for products not tested on animals, buy recycled toilet paper (even though it costs more) and to not watch television (thus saving tons of electricity.) Even though all of these were fairly easy for me, they still make a difference.

Oddly, over the course of the past few months “Choose Three Things” has become sort of an unofficial life motto for me. Once aware that I could conquer and control three things for the planet, I decided it was possible to Choose Three Things to make the situation better whenever faced with a challenge.

For instance, when something is clearly out of our control we can Choose Three Things we can control. Computer crashes? You can always file those papers on your desk, write a thank you note and offer to assist a co-worker with a task (after calling IT of course.)

Personally I like to apply this same approach at home. The house is a mess and I have to be at work in 15 minutes? I choose three quick tasks to make the place look better, if not perfect. You’d be surprised what a difference just putting magazines away, straightening the couch pillows and making the bed makes.

I also applied the Choose Three Things approach to people who annoy me. Whenever I get mad at someone I generally like, I force myself to think of three of their good traits and focus on them.

A friend has also applied the Choose Three Things approach to her daily life. Her goal is to make three people’s lives happier every day – by giving a sincere compliment, writing a friendly note to someone who is struggling or running an errand for a frazzled co-worker.

When we Choose Three Things, we accomplish many. Not only do we contribute to the wellbeing of our planet, our co-workers and complete strangers, we also accomplish one thing – and that’s feeling better about ourselves!

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