Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin saw the oil spill for what it was and what it could be: an opportunity to create a “national teach-in on environment” day. With bipartisan support, Nelson moved to create a national event on April 22, 1970. On that day, 20 million Americans demonstrated across the country on the behalf of the environment.
Since that first Earth Day, the movement has only grown. In the United States, it helped to launch the EPA, as well as the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Around the world, Earth Day has resulted in efforts to pursue clean energy, curb climate change, and a commitment to respect natural resources. Celebrated by more than a billion people every year, Earth Day is the largest secular holiday in the world.
On this Earth Day, we hope that you’ll appreciate where you are (if it’s been a week, think very, very small), and think about the places you’ve been. Today is a great day to plant a tree (or pick a tree you’ll plant if the snow ever stops), use a little less, and see how you can give back a little more. It’s also a good time to think about your career, and how you can make your work a little more sustainable.
Remember when you were young, when you learned about the environment at school? If not, we’ve got you covered. When it comes to saving the Earth and sustaining your career, just remember: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
When it comes to the environment, the call to reduce may direct you to change the lightbulbs that you use, say “no thank you” to that plastic straw, or be mindful of how much water you use (all excellent ideas).
When it comes to your career, we’d advise you to reduce as well, but in this case, we’re talking about your focus. If you’re trying to maintain a career while marching along wherever the military sends you, it’s tempting to fling options on the board. Maybe you could be a writer, a barista, a clerk, an office worker, a teacher, a salesperson, a volunteer… or maybe you should try them all?
Here’s a question: Do you actually want to be any of those things?
Sure, there are other good questions. Namely: Do you have the education for these options? The skillsets? But really, if you’re going to be doing a job every day, some part of you should want to do that job, especially if you’re working toward a long-term career trajectory. To keep your head in the game, you must rein in your focus. Reduce the “maybes” and focus on what your long-term goals are—then take the first step toward making those goals happen.
According to the EPA, Americans generate about four pounds of wasted material each day—and only one-third of that waste is recycled. One of the largest sources of American waste is our textiles… around eighty-five percent of them end up in the trash, even though they could be reused in some way. As military families, we have clothes that can fit any climate because we know we may need them. However, if you’re doing a little pre-PCS purging, see what you can do to ensure your clothes and linens are reused for a good cause.
While you’re sorting through your closets, might I make another sustainable career suggestion? Reusing isn’t just for your clothes… it’s for your contacts. We all know the military is a very small world—it’s time for you to take advantage of that fact.
When it comes to your career, it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know, and I’m betting you know more people than you think. LinkedIn® is the leading professional social media networking tool; it’s a means to stay in touch with old friends while making new connections with professionals in your industry or at a new duty station. Make sure you become a part of a military spouse networking group—most of them are virtual and can be found by a simple Google search.
By networking, you can build connections within your community and industry—connections that you can reuse as you progress along your career path. If you need help navigating social media networking, register with MSCCN, we’d love to help you build your network.
Of all the moves you can make to improve the environment, learning to recycle is perhaps the easiest. However, it’s not just a matter of shoving some plastic, glass, and paper in a bin and hoping for the best. Your city may have specific recycling guidelines for bins collected at the curb, so make sure you look them up before you discard as you please. Additionally, think about items large and small… from the tin foil you use on baking sheets to the outdated medications in your cabinet, there is a responsible way to recycle it all. Read up, and get sorting!
When it comes to your career, recycling is also a move that can be easier in conception than execution. Recycling, like reinvention, is an exciting prospect. This is your chance to make like Madonna and Lady Gaga—evolve to stay relevant, reuse those skills you’ve worked so hard to obtain! But to do so well, you need to be smart about the choices you make.
Recycle your experiences and skills on your resume by targeting them toward the specific position (and company) you’re applying for.
Recycle your soft skills from an old job to one in a different field… but make sure you connect how your experiences and achievements are relevant to the job you want. Remember those job sheet buzzwords!
As you celebrate Earth Day and make plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle at home, make a commitment to a more sustainable vision for your career as well. While we may surrender control over most of our lives to the military and its needs, one thing we shouldn’t have to surrender is our career and our dreams for the future. At MSCCN, we’re on your side and rooting for your career path, every step of the way.
Story by Amanda Marksmeier