The past week I’ve been doing a lot of reading – and finding myself in a state of near melancholy. I’ve read about the biggest pollution criminals pollution and factors influencing the climate change. What I found some scientists saying, not surprisingly, is that the decisions we make as individuals and consumers don’t matter much. There are far more powerful forces ruining the environment, and small people like you and me can’t do squat to stop them.
Fair enough. Personally none of us can ratify the Kyoto Protocol for the U.S. We can’t make Russian oligarchs or Saudi billionaires or other distant big shots choose wisely for the environment. If I buy organic, or don’t buy at all, and even if there were millions of us doing the same thing, it wouldn’t matter – we’re just small people. Is it really so, I’m still wondering. However, the point that I’m making through this blog project, is that it matters to me. It matters to my family, to our community, and to our micro-environment.
One of the objectives of this project was to cut down on shopping and buying new. During the first three months of the year I’ve bought some, such as books, notebooks, pens. We’ve definitely minimised all shopping that’s not necessary to our everyday life, but for the home and guesthouse we’ve bought quite a lot. And to turn my mother-in-law’s house to our childproof modern home we still need to acquire more.
I also wanted to reduce the amount of trash, especially disposable diapers. Since we took over the guesthouse, the amount of garbage has only risen, but if I’d count the garbage per person, there’s probably some improvement there. With diapers we’re just returning to cottons, as we’re finally settling in (and the washing machine is working).
Now back to the idea that none of this is helping, in the big picture. There is a guy coming to the guesthouse every two weeks, selling cleaning liquids and detergents. He’s claiming it’s all natural and green. And he doesn’t have a clue (I’ve checked the labels and the manufacturers website). We tell him we’re in favour of tested and certified ecological products – to no avail. So we chat and exchange greetings, but finally send him off without doing business. That’s our small choice.
Of course it doesn’t stop our neighbours from buying the products. Of course it doesn’t stop the manufacturer using toxic chemicals and dangerously strong fragrances in them. It’s all true: whether I throw the garbage in the woods or not, I’m not saving or destroying all woods everywhere. If I choose to keep the house temperature below +20 celsius in the wintertime, I’m not stopping others overheating their homes, and I’m certainly not stopping the climate change.
But doing these small things, we’re part of a movement, I’d like to believe. With enough many of us, we’re sending a message. To the people around us, our children, and perhaps to the CEO’s and politicians making the fundamental and huge decisions.
As a mother of an 18 month old child, I tend to see things through the eyes of the children today. I think it’s for them we have to save the planet. And it’s for them that we have to keep going, stay positive, not give up. My daughter will learn that we can and have to put our money into products and services that make living on this planet sustainable. She will grow up listening to her parents sharing the facts and reasoning with others. When we go picking the garbage from the woods, our neighbours see that we don’t just tolerate the plastic bottles and bags left there. And they will slowly join us.
I believe change begins with loving where you are, what you have, and what surrounds you. Appreciating what the land gives you: food, shelter, beauty, joy. It begins by showing your family and community what matters to you. And what you’re ready to do about it.