I had a wake up call last week (The Awaken the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium) that made me realize that one of the biggest things stopping many of us (myself included) from doing more to protect the environment is embarrassment. Isn't that pathetic? We let a mere transient, harmless emotion stop us from protecting the very thing that keeps us alive and brings us literally everything we have. But it's true. Let me give you one example.
I often buy take-out meals to save time cooking and shopping, and so that I can enjoy the food in my own home. That means that every week I toss out dozens of plastic and styrofoam containers. I know that these used containers are transported in stinking garbage trucks, polluting the air, on the way to fill up a valley in the New Territories that I can no longer hike in. That is how direct the connection is between my consumption and the reduction in the quality of my own life.
The most convenient away for me to completely eliminate this particular desecration of the environment would be to bring my own containers to the take-out counters that I could easily re-use.
So what is the main reason I don't? It would be embarrassing to stand out and be different.
When I take an inventory of all the other small steps I could take to reduce my environmental impact, I notice that embarrassment is often stopping me.
- I could complain about the excessive packaging in local supermarket.
- I could walk to a meeting and arrive a little sweaty rather than taking a taxi.
- I could carry my own refillable cup.
- I could bear being called an activist, anti-business or unpatriotic, and speak up against the government's ignorance of the future being created by excessive development.
Isn't it nice now to be able to receive a nod and maybe even a smile when you bring your own bag to the supermarket? Millions of bags will be saved as a result and hopefully that will mean a few less filthy plastic membranes floating along our beaches.
If we wait until protecting the environment is no longer embarrassing, we are squandering our wealth. We will have poorer quality food, more diseases caused by pollution and less natural beauty to bring us joy. If you think about it, you will notice that the pace of these destructive trends is already increasing in our lifetimes.
If you are reading this article, you already know the cost of our/your destructive ways and you know of many changes you could make to reduce your impact. What is your excuse for not doing more?