Creating a Culture of Environmental Care
By: Aria Nicolai
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time there was a planet. This planet was called Earth and she was beautiful. She was swathed in colors of blue and green. Her surface was blanketed by oceans deep and undisturbed and by pristine forests whose trunks reached for the sun.
This planet wasn’t just beautiful; she was strong. Storms would sweep across her seas and avalanches would tumble down her cliffs, and sheets of water would cut crevices across her body, but she endured.
Colorful creatures of every shape and size imaginable swam through her waters and raced through her prairies and climbed her peaks. Life wasn’t always easy for these creatures. In fact, it could be brutal, but they were strong and they endured. And they were satisfied.
But one creature wasn’t satisfied. They wanted life on Earth to be easier for them. This creature wanted to mold Earth’s shape to fit their needs. They stole her trees to make their inventions and drilled her surfaces for minerals and fuels. They filled her skies with ugly black clouds of smoke and her lakes with foul pools of oil. And what they didn’t want, they threw to the sandy bottoms of her oceans. These creatures were imaginative, and resourceful, and intelligent. But they were also selfish and thoughtless.
Now Earth is older, and she is still beautiful. Her surface still beholds many wonders, and many creatures still thrive on her lands and in her waters. But dark shells of asphalt coat her green skin and dams ford her blue rivers. And what was once green was made brown and what was once lush was made dry. And every day, the creatures that call Earth home are pushed from their homes and their survival is made arduous.
We live in a world where caring for our environment and the species that inhabit it has taken the back seat to making advancements in technology, business, and infrastructure. Humans, especially those who live in developed countries, are inflicting irreparable damage on our beautiful Mother Earth. But what is even worse is that many people only think of environmentalism as it affects humans—how the damage we are doing to the environment affects our resources, homes, and families. Many people are blinded to the bigger picture: destroying our environment isn’t just harmful, its potentially catastrophic.
Nearly 80% of the forests that covered Earth’s and masses have been cut down or damaged. A quarter of the Earth’s surface is vulnerable to desertification. In the next 20-50 years, we may lose 15% of our bird species, 25% of our mammal species, 60% of our coral reef, and nearly half of our plants to extinction. In the last thirty years, natural gas extraction has tripled, the amount of trees ground to make paper has doubled, and carbon emissions have increased by 60%. 48 football fields of rainforest are cut down every minute. To most, these numbers may look like overblown headlines. But people’s disbelief on the state of our environment is testament to the fact that we don’t really know the extent of damage we’ve done. It’s crucial that we start a conversation about the causes of environmental destruction and take immediate action to slow the damage being done to our Earth.
It’s going to take more than celebrating Earth day 1 out of 365 days of the year and recycling when convenient to make any sort of change to our environmental situation. People who are serious about making a big impact—and having a small carbon footprint—need to make large lifestyle changes and be vocal about them.
It’s time to be resolute about making a positive change and helping our Earth. Here are five easy and cheap lifestyle changes that can help reduce the amount of harm we do to our planet.
Make conscience food choices
Animal agribusiness is arguably the single most harmful perpetrator of environment destruction. It is directly or indirectly responsible for a substantial percent of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, rainforest deforestation, overfishing, water pollution, and soil pollution. It’s also incredibly water intensive, not to mention cruel to the billions of animals forced to live in horrifying conditions. Reducing the amount of animal products you eat is a necessary step to becoming more environmentally conscience.
2. Reuse…and Recycle but mostly Reuse
The city of Austin has the right idea by charging people money for grocery bags. We need to be using reusable bags, Tupperware, water bottles, and washable dishware. We need to cease and desist throwing things in the trash instead of washing and reusing, just because its more convenient. Recycling is amazing, but reusing is even better.
3. Walk More, Drive Less
Walking or biking (or skateboarding, rollerblading or hover boarding) to your destination are amazing ways to cut down on your carbon footprint and get some exercise. You might even save some money on gas!
4. Borrow or Buy “Pre-loved”
Ever notice how everything you buy at Target or HEB is packaged in an inordinate amount of colorful plastic, cardboard, and cellophane? When you borrow from other people or buy second-hand clothes and items, you cut energy wasted on new stuff, and reduce the amount of waste going into landfills. Reducing consumerism is a direct way to reduce ecological problems and poverty. And you’ll save money. What’s not to like?
5. Shower Faster
Showering can be time consuming, especially those with long hair that needs washing and rinsing. But you don’t need to wash your hair every day. (If you don’t believe me, google it). So, on days where you don’t wash your hair, get in and out in under five minutes. I challenge you. You can do it.
In the past 200 years, we have been our Earth’s greatest enemy. Its high time we start showing our beautiful Earth the love it deserves. We can’t go back and undo what’s been done, and we can’t stop current practices controlled by moneyed interests, like fracking and animal agribusiness.
But we do have control over our own choices–what we choose to buy and how we use our resources. It’s unclear what the future holds for our beautiful Earth, but taking small steps to decrease destruction and increase awareness of our environment will hopefully pave the way for a brighter, cleaner future for Mother Earth and all her creatures.