April 22 is Earth Day. This day has grown in importance for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m “older and wiser” or because the world has changed and we’re all more mindful of the need to do more with less. I just know that I’m far more committed to that then I ever have been in the past.
This is one of those areas where I feel like I’ve been “tricked” or that I’ve been “drinking the kool aid” for too long and am finally waking up. You grow up, as an American, with a certain sense of entitlement about having things and achieving “the American Dream.” Our society encourages us to purchase things, drive big cars, eat meat, replace gadgets, live in big houses, consume, consume, consume. There have always been minority voices speaking out about the impacts of that lifestyle but they are drowned out by the louder corporate voices. It has only been the last decade where those minority voices have gotten more of their due and it has only been the last couple of years when I’ve really – finally – started to listen. And it’s only been the last few months when I have, at last, decided to change.
Real change takes commitment. And it can be really uncomfortable. To look at yourself and your choices is a tough thing to do some times. I do feel like many of my choices have been influenced heavily by the endless manipulation of communications and the endless selling we are subjected to in our society. However, that’s not a good enough excuse. I have a mind. I’ve travelled. I know much of the world does not have enough. I know I eat too much. I know I spend too much. I know I don’t take enough time thinking about the impacts of my choices. I have to take personal responsibility.
We constantly consume without thinking about where things come from and where they are going to end up. For instance, I don’t want to know about how I got that hamburger. I couldn’t eat it if I spent time thinking about it and I could never kill and process the cow. I need to not eat it anymore. I just don’t feel right about it. I don’t want to make a big deal about it. I don’t even want to declare myself a vegetarian. I just want to make different choices. In fact, I may still choose at times to eat beef or chicken or ham or whatever, but I will be much more conscious about the choice I’m making.
And where my trash ends up is on the other end of this spectrum. We buy and then we throwaway without another thought as to where it is going to end up. It’s all too easy for us not to think about it. But there’s not a magic genie poofing that garbage into nothing. It is being shipped off to rot for the next 200 years in some big pile – and that’s the things that will breakdown. Some of it – like the very prevalent plastic bottles – will just be there as garbage. Garbage I helped create. I need to do better. I care enough about this planet and my nieces and nephews and kids in my life that I will choose to change.
Join me! Let’s all wake up and shake off the “kool aid” fog! Today’s a perfect day to commit to doing more with less. To commit to making conscious choices about what we consume and what we buy. To commit to looking for ways to make this world a better place – for everyone – worldwide. We don’t have to change everything overnight, instead, just pick a couple of things to work on and start there. Baby steps are still steps. You’ll feel more in control and better for it, I guarantee it. Happy Earth Day!