Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's not easy being green

A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.
John James Audubon

When I was a kid my fifth grade teacher Mrs. Buckingham had a passion for the rainforests and for environmental conservation. Eighteen years later and her lessons and passion have stuck with me throughout the years. However, in my experience, this passion hasn't spread with the world as quickly as it should.

Last month I went to Greece on a quick getaway with one of the missions. We stayed in Souda on the island of Crete. There was only one day where the weather was suitable for a little beach time so we spent a few hours on a little beach unknown to most tourists. Wind and stormy weather had left tide pools in the nearby rocks. And then I saw this:

Plastic bottles floating on the coast had been carried into these little pools to settle and degrade.

So here's my big question these days.  Why aren't more people environmentalists? Particularly, parents?

Is this the world we want to leave behind for our kids? A coastline flooded with plastic bottles, an ocean with floating garbage islands, an arctic with no polar bear, and vanishing rainforests? Some people shrug it off because it sounds hyperbolic but the sad truth is it isn't... and that's why I don't get it.

As the midterm elections finally ended which means all the BS about government debt, taxes, and immigration is kind of over, the argument some people make about the nation's fiscal direction echoes in my head. As some push for lower taxes and others quarrel over government involvement, people's argument centers around this idea that we'll be leaving a huge debt behind for our children... that would just be a crime. But what about the environmental debt we're leaving behind? Why is no one ruffling feathers over that?

After some thought... and some frustration with my own venture in being low-impact... the answer is simple--it's not easy. It's not easy being environmentally conscientious. Therefore it's not easy asking others to be. But I would think all the signs point to green. It may not be as self-serving as say cutting taxes... it's better than that. It serves oneself and every generation after. While the fast-paced, technoligically-centered society of today's generation is obsessed with single-serving instant everything... the problem is... the world itself isn't single serving. The world isn't here for us to just use and dispose of; the world is here for longer than we are and we have to keep it in good condition for the next group.

The world is a lot like a public toilet when you think about it. We all have to use it at some point. At the beginning of time, the toilet was pristine, filled with blue disinfectant bubbles to signify its cleanliness. Our era is probably something resembling the lunchtime rush-hour; waste output is starting to pick up and people are becoming more concerned with their own need to get in and out rather than consider who is using the toilet after them. But the problem is, the world doesn't have a janitor coming to clean up dribble spots or clogged drains. The next day's patrons will just have to deal with the overflowing drains and skidmarks. The next day's patrons are our kids though. Is that really how we want to leave for world for them?

My recommendation? Vow to reduce consumption (buy less, reuse more). Support products you do have to buy that biodegrade easily and come from recycled products. Watch lectures like Charles Moore's and read No Impact Man's book and be moved and motivated....

Why you shouldn't? It'd be slightly more convenient and easier in the moment...
Why you should? We only get one "toilet". Your children depend on it.

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