It's Saturday afternoon, and I've managed to slip out of my house without sending my 5-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son into a frenzied chorus of pleas to tag along. With my husband holding down the fort, I head to a place I can be alone with my thoughts for an hour: the grocery store.
Mamas, you know what I'm talking about.
Only on this day, I don't mindlessly move up and down each aisle, tossing the typical weekly assortment of items into my cart. On this day, the voice inside my head is Kristen Bell's, reminding me that, as mothers, we have the power to make tiny tweaks in our lives that can affect great change.
I grab two jugs of Tide Purclean, toss them in my cart and — quite possibly for the first time ever — I feel proud of my laundry detergent purchase. As I enter the self-checkout line and slide the jugs across the scanner, I think, "Huh... sometimes it really is that easy."
You see, earlier that week, I'd hopped on a phone call with Bell as part of SheKnows' new #MamasMakeChange series. Through the series, we shine a light on women who aren't just shaping tiny humans, but who are also affecting change in their communities and the world at large.
Bell, an outspoken advocate for many causes, was a natural pick for the series — especially in light of the fact that she recently partnered with the World Wildlife Fund and Tide Purclean to encourage energy-saving habits with the #CleanPledge Challenge.
The premise, Bell shared, is simple.
"The #CleanPledge is basically just a series of really small challenges to create a better environment for our kids and everyone on the planet," she said. "It's washing with cold water, using a high-efficiency washer if you can, and really looking at the tag and washing it properly to extend the life of your clothing so that less clothing ends up in a landfill."
Making minor adjustments like this, even just to your laundry routine, can have a big effect on the planet, Bell underscored. Bonus? For every person who takes the #CleanPledge Challenge, Tide will donate $5 to the World Wildlife Fund to help their global conservation efforts.
The eco-conscious campaign is well-timed, with Earth Day right around the corner. And, given the changes to the Environmental Protection Agency proposed by the current administration, Earth Day seems to bear added resonance this year.
With such large-scale environmental programs being met with so much dissonance, making small changes sometimes seems hopeless. However, with moms like us lending momentum, those small changes add up to a big message about the importance of things like sustainability and conservation.
"It's easy to feel powerless," Bell admitted. "But I think the way to make change is to demand and then support big companies that are making a difference." In fact, this is why Bell gravitated to her current eco-conscious collaboration.
"That's why I love this campaign so much, because I love it when I see a huge company like Tide making sustainable efforts, answering the eco-consumer's question and responding with a plant-based detergent. With Purclean, the whole system is eco-friendly — it's produced in a facility that sends zero manufacturing waste to the landfill, it's made with wind-powered electricity and it's free of dyes," she said.
Pausing for a moment, Bell continued, "If we don't feel the government is protecting the world around us, we as the consumers need to make our voices heard to the companies we buy from. We vote with every single one of our dollars."
If swapping out your laundry detergent sounds like a no-brainer way to help the planet, it's because it is... and it is just one of many ways we can all strive to make every day more eco-friendly.
When asked about how she incorporates conservation into her everyday life, Bell shared, "You know, it changes all the time depending on what I'm using or what I'm doing, but I just try to stay woke in general."
Of course, as a busy mom herself, Bell understands this can be easier said than done.
"I mean, it's hard. Listen, it's really hard. But I just kind of ask myself subconsciously before I go to the trash, 'Can this be used anywhere else?' And then when I'm looking at [leftover] noodle water, I'm like, 'Duh, it can go on the tree outside,'" she said. "Or I can use this toilet paper roll and dip it in paint and the kids can make circle stamps as an art project — which also gets them off my back for the next hour, and then I have a chance to just sit down and rest. Everybody wins."
Kristen Bell Cause
Kristen Bell Cause
For Bell, being woke stretches beyond eco-conservation. She is also a passionate advocate for mothers and children working with nonprofit organizations like Baby2Baby, No Kid Hungry and Alliance of Moms in Los Angeles.
And although she confesses that working with these organizations has "lit a fire under [her] ass" to be more involved, she also stresses that effecting change can be as simple as saying hello to a neighbor.
"We can just look at other people and say, 'What do you need?' It doesn't have to be someone across the globe — it can be someone in your community. What are the needs in your community?" Bell said.
"Also, since I've had kids, I do think every kid is my kid. It's like a lesson my mother-in-law always says. Whenever we see any negative story, even if it's about a criminal and a victim, she always says about the criminal, 'You know what? That person was brought home from the hospital and their parents opened cigars. That person was celebrated when they were born,'" she shared. "So many things happen when you're on Earth that can mess you up, so isn't the goal to make sure the vast majority of us don't get messed up?"
Alas, life is hectic and we, as mamas, juggle a million things at any given moment (including trying not to mess up our own kids). How do we effect change when we're spinning in so many different directions all the time?
"No. 1 would be slow down — nothing's going anywhere. Panic helps nothing," Bell gently reminded, adding, "Live with intention and follow your instincts. Your instincts... not anyone else's. Take in all the information, and then follow your instincts."
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