Remember the joy of finding a penny on the sidewalk when you were a kid? Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck! Such a simple find, free for the taking. I had the good fortune to feel that girlish glee again recently. On a hectic business trip to the big city, I stopped by a cafe for lunch, and as I was leaving, I noticed a book lying on top of a trash bin just outside the door. Hardbound, clean dust jacket, popular fiction. Was it lost? I picked it up with the notion that I’d take it inside to the cashier. But a small yellow sticker on the spine of the book caught my eye. The sticker read, “Traveling Book! Look inside…”
As it turned out, the mystery book was not lost at all. It was on a journey, and by the grace of someone else’s generosity, it had found its way to me. It’s all part of a blossoming phenomenon called “book crossing.” The gist: Read a book, and instead of selling it, pass it on to a perfect stranger (find a book, pick it up!). The best part is, many of these rambling reads are informally registered with a free online book club called bookcrossing.com. What this means to a lucky book finder is that she can go online and connect with others who have read the book, read others’ reviews, o
r simply revel in the winding roads her new book has wandered. Rest assured, my fellow authors, that our livelihood is not in jeopardy as a result of book crossing. In fact, this trend has the power to spark the joy of reading and t
o introduce readers to books they may never have thought to buy, both of which will inevitably boost book sales. And I can tell you firsthand how wonderful it feels to receive a gift of pure, unrequited kindness. I can only imagine how good it’s going to feel to pass it along.
This unique way of recycling a book inspired me to consider other ways in which we might spread happiness through small, yet meaningful, acts of “green” generosity. I’ve always loved the “random acts of kindness” idea, and it occurred to me how cool it would be to take the concept one step further — random acts that nurture the spirit while lightening the load on the planet at the same time — in short, random acts of green. Anonymous giving is one of the most glorious expressions of unselfish appreciation toward other individuals and the community at large, and it’s contagious. Who can resist the sweet satisfaction? Add an environmental consciousness to the equation, and we’re all likely to reap rewards.
Here are a few random acts that are sure to fuel your inspiration. It’s a good idea to include a little “Take Me” note if you’re leaving a gift in a public place. That way, it won’t end up stranded in the local lost-and-found!
1. Grab Bag
Buy a cheap cloth grocery bag (or if you’re feeling crafty, stitch one up special), and tuck it into a grocery cart. This small act of green generosity may inspire the next shopper to skip the plastic bags and use the reusable bag you so kindly left.
2. Book Crossing
Pass on your latest favorite book by way of “book crossing.” Simply join the free community at bookcrossing.com to get a BCID number for your book, then label it, set it
free, and watch the website to see where it travels.
3. Cup of Kindness
I love my son’s example of what he calls a random act of “way cool.” Tired and late for work, he pulled up to an espresso stand to order a 12-ounce cup of coffee, and the barista happily informed him that the previous patron had already bought a 16-ounce for whoever was next in line. How’s that for making somebody’s morning? Go at it from a greener angle by paying for the next reusable mug that comes to the counter.
Copyright 2010, MaryJane Butters.
Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.