The more research I do, the easier it becomes to let the information I learn get me down. It really does make me realize that ignorance is bliss. And I’m surrounded by blissfully ignorant people who drive huge SUVs, throw away recyclable plastic, and shop at places like Walmart.
It makes me realize that the human mind is only capable of comprehending so much negative information before we just give up and get depressed. I think it’s really important to remember the positive things, and keep an open mind. Yes, our planet is being taxed by human existence more than ever before. And yes, there are many people who don’t care, and never will. But I refuse to let this information get me down, because if everyone gives up, then we will put ourselves in a worse situation than we are now.
I’m human, and I still do things that are not environmentally friendly. Really, we live in a society where it’s impossible not to waste. But I do try to be aware of how I can change my behaviour to be more sustainable. Sometimes I get really lazy and I don’t want to bend over and unplug my computer as I’m running out the door. Sometimes I get home and realize I forgot.
As individuals, the biggest positive environmental impact we can have is to boycott companies that are unethical and are huge polluters.
Chevron is known to be extremely unethical, and had a $16 billion environmental lawsuit filed against them in 2008 for causing extensive damage in Ecuador. Instead, and keeping in mind that we’re still talking about an oil company, Shell, has better than average sustainability reporting and provides data for almost all important environmental metrics.
Monsanto, the American seed giant, is known for being one of the most unethical companies in the world. It’s responsible for creating genetically modified seeds, and is accused of frequently and unfairly suing small farmers for patent infringement. So how do you avoid it? It’s almost impossible to do so. Almost everything you buy that has corn products in it (including corn syrup) has come in contact with a Monsanto product. I’m going to do a bit of research on this topic, and write more about it later.
Saving our environment is about many people making small changes. I believe that simply assuming our planet is doomed is a copout.
When I was living in Victoria, I continued to waste as little as possible, choose my bike over my car, and recycle everything I could. I unplugged devices I wasn’t using, and refrained from purchasing things I didn’t need. Some days it felt like it didn’t make a difference, but I have to remember that it does.
I currently live in Phnom Penh, where I’m doing graphic design for an NGO consultancy. I am literally surrounded by a culture that does not, whatsoever, care about the environment, because they are so concerned about their day-to-day livelihood. How can anyone expect people to be concerned about the future when they don’t know how they’ll afford their next meal?
The fact is, even though many of the Cambodian people are not educated enough to care about the environmental impact they have, it doesn’t mean I have to stop caring.
Each night, the poor root through people’s trash before the garbage truck comes by to take it to the dump. They’re looking for recyclables, which they wash out and sell for a meagre profit. I take the time to rinse out my recyclable plastics, and leave them in a separate bag next to the garbage.
I refrain from purchasing styrofoam as much as humanly possible, and I still turn off all of my lights and appliances when I leave the house. I walk to and from work every day.
I do this because I believe that perhaps I can inspire a few people to do the same and conserve a bit of energy, or waste just a little less. In that way, we can inspire each other to take better care of our planet, which, let’s face it, we can’t live without!
I have changed my lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly, whether I’m living in Canada or Cambodia. I believe everyone is capable of doing this.