When I was growing up in Brazil, environmentalists were perceived as hippies that stood on the way of progress and defended an utopian view of the world. It was a time in which Prince Charles was ridiculed for his defense of the environment and organic farming, and Brazilian authorities wished Sting would fight for someone else’s forests. Fast forward a couple of decades and we now live in a world where these questions are no longer limited to the Green Parties and hippies of the world. Mainstream political parties must now have a proper environment policy and a former American vice-president has won the Nobel Peace Prize for calling the western world’s attention to the critical point we have reached. Suddenly, Prince Charles is not so laughable after all…
We can each do our part in ensuring a future for our children and for ourselves:
1. Recycle & re-use items – don’t throw in the garbage something that can be recycled. Re-use what you can. Why spend money on toxic plastic containers to store food when you can use nice glass jars and containers from your jams, mayonese, salsa, olives and other products. I used to love the fact that you had the option to get juice & milk on glass bottles in Spain.
2. Try to generate less garbage – It seems that the cleaning products industry has gone on the “disposable” bandwagon recently. From your duster, to wood-polishing oils, passing through multi-purpose cleaners, everything comes in disposable wipes format. The trend has also started to impact the cosmetic industry where I have been seeing disposable facial washing cloth. Has anybody stopped to think the amount of extra garbage that generates? What’s wrong with wiping the kitchen counters with a cloth that can be washed afterwards?
3. Try to leave your car at home more often – I know this is hard for people living in North American suburbs that have been designed for cars and where a public transit system is almost non-existent. But do you really need to drive to the corner store, less than 10-minute walk away? Luckily for me, my dad was a bit cheap when it came to driving my brothers and I around. He complained gas was expensive and would only drive us to places we couldn’t possibly walk to or take a bus. Even when I had to go grocery shopping, since the store was about a kilometre away, he would tell me “you can walk”. Of course it used to drive me nuts, but today I appreciate it since my first instinct when I have to go anywhere is to walk, and if I can’t walk, to look for public transit.
4. Buy local whenever possible – That’s one of the things I’ve started being more aware of lately. Personally, I think this one affects not only the environment but also your health. Whenever I go shopping, I make sure I check the tags of what I buy. I’d rather buy strawberries from Ontario than from California, regardless of the price.
Spread the word! Think of your own contributions to the world in which we all live. Be aware of the example you set for your children.
More good advice here and here.