- Politics and Social Issues
Ten more ways to reduce pollution in the environment
Make the effort and be glad you did.
Many of the plants and animals of the natural world are defenseless in the face of civilization. Reading about, or visiting, an oil spill, strip-mined mountaintop, or even a familiar field which was turned into a shopping mall, demonstrates clearly how people destroy the existing ecosystems. The choices we make on a daily basis can contribute either to the ruin of the natural world, or its salvation. When we join with others and champion the rights of those without a voice, the plants and animals of this world, then we are living to our fullest potential. Doing this is the critical issue of the day.
Thankfully, nature is a resilient force. Weeds grow between cracks in the sidewalk, birds perch in skyscrapers, and vines grow up the sides of a brick house adding beauty and stability to it. Nature is all around us, and it is in us. We are not separate from it. Our house is nature's house. More so, our house is our children's house. The choices we make today have ramifications for hundreds, if not thousands of years to come. We must hone awareness of what we do and how it affects the natural environment.
10 (more) things you can do to reduce pollution in the environment.
1. Join a local chapter of an environmental group or start one in your community.
Likely you already belong to a national organization devoted to protecting the environment. If you don't, definitely join one. The next step is to get active in a local chapter, or to be at the core of a group of people starting one. This way, you will meet like-minded people, understand how national issues affect you locally, and share in the successes of your group. It's important that there are tangible actions that you take. Equally important (or more so) is acting with other people to leverage governments and corporations to change. The personal changes that you or I make pale in comparison to the effect that a government or corporation can have. When laws and changes are put in effect by these entities then there is a significant impact on the environment.
2. Call Congresspeople and Senators, as well as C.E.O.s, about current bills and policy.
The National Resources Defense Council has a good database about these things. They make it easy for you to compose e-mails and get them to the appropriate people. Once you've done that, a follow-up call drives the message home. Consider how much more impact a telephone call has for you. It's the same thing for anybody else. This link provides information about how to contact your Congressperson or Senator. When you call, reference the bill by its number, and let the person who answers the phone know how you stand. Inquire as to how your representative is going to vote. These calls may seem perfunctory; however, they are very effective.
3. Start a weekly or monthly potluck to foster environmental action.
This provides you with an informal way to meet people, exchange ideas, and hear about successes large and small. People who might shy away from considering themselves activists, or making a telephone call, are happy to attend a potluck and get a chance to eat and socialize. Everyone likes to eat. And once they're full, they find it hard to get away, and will take the time necessary to listen to you. And, of course, you will get a chance to listen to them.
4. Eat organic.
The organic food movement is one of the success stories of the environmental movement. Eliminating the use of pesticides produces healthier crops and contamination in the groundwater is reduced. This food is healthier for you. Back in the 1980s, it was hard to find organic food. Even during the 1990s, it wasn't that common. Now most, if not all, major grocery stores carry organic food. All this is because of consumer demand. Every time you buy an organic product it sends a message to the corporations that control the farms. Which brings me to my next point.
5. Join a C.S. A. (community supported agriculture) or start a community garden.
The C.S.A. movement is a relatively new phenomenon. Basically, many individuals or families, each purchase a share in a small local farm. Then, every week or so, those people go to the farm and pick up the vegetables grown for them. When choosing a C.S.A. find one that uses organic growing practices, and gives its workers to a fair wage. Be certain that the C.S.A. is doing these two things.
Fresh produce is a real luxury. It is more valuable than gold. If you live in an area where there is no C.S.A. available, then consider starting a community garden. This could be as simple as an herb garden on a back window that you share with neighbors, to a backyard garden shared in the same way. Or it could be as elaborate as a plot of land that you rent with a number of neighbors, or a vacant parcel that you gain access to, where you till the earth and plant vegetables. Some communities, like Ann Arbor, have a community garden set up and supported by a nonprofit organization. The one here is called project grow. They provide the land, you provide the seeds and the time. I've done it many years, and it has always been rewarding.
6. Eat less processed food.
A lot of energy goes into making a Twinkie. The same can be said of Cheerios, soda, or any other processed food. This is true whether it is conventional or organic. Additionally, processed food is generally not as healthy for you as whole food. An example of this is the vitamins which are added to processed food. An apple or orange has a lot of vitamin C naturally in it. These fruits also have many other enzymes and micro-nutrients in them. They're easier to assimilate by the body and to better effect than synthesized vitamin C. The vitamin C in processed food, on the other hand, is ascorbic acid, only one element in the complex presentation of vitamin C in its natural form. Eat whole foods for their benefits to your body, as well as their benefit to the earth.
7. Give away things you don't use to people who will.
It is absolutely true that one man's trash is another man's treasure. If you have a friend that will use an item that you are no longer using, then why not give it to them! By doing so, you effectively save the resources necessary to create a new item of that sort; and your generosity increases. You may have saved your friend money, and in any event there will be a strengthening in your friendship. Hey! When you give enough things away, you can move to a smaller house. A smaller house reduces your carbon footprint significantly. It's a lofty goal to do to everything you can to defend the environment. But, it is just as significant to give away a pen to somebody who needs one. By constantly attending to consciousness and awareness of everything that you do, you will have a positive effect on the environment.
Jensen provides a complete critique of civilization. This book helped me understand how intrenched the bias against nature is in our society. Also, how one person's actions compare to the whole.
Jensen outlines possible courses of action for the environmentally concerned citizen. Haven't read it yet.
8. Increase your awareness of the urgency of the issue.
There are many popular authors on the subject. Al Gore, Will Tuttle and Derick Jensen all come to mind. Check out their books from the library. Just as important as the facts and figures presented by these authors is the certainty created in your mind by reading them. If it is not enough to look around and see how we mistreat the natural world, then these authors will bring the point home. Not only that, they provide a deeper and broader context than a list of action items like this possibly can. As this is the most important issue the day, you owe it to yourself and society to fully understand it as best as you can. Taking the time to read about it will strengthen your resolve, energize you, and provide you with a thoroughgoing knowledge of the situation.
9. Buy green products.
There are many common brands that are created with the environment in mind. Whenever you buy something that you need, like food or household supplies, it's a chance to buy something that was made in ecologically conscious way. The best thing to do is to buy items that are made locally. That way, your money stays in your community and you can see for yourself what are the business practices and environmental choices of the producer. Some items are hard to find which are made locally. For these, there are various resources which help you find companies that have a standard of best practices. Green America has a website to this end.
10. Have a "lazy day".
One day a week, you might try having a "lazy day". Consciously decide not to use the car, television, or any appliances if you can avoid it. Take a walk outside, observe the natural colors of the sky and the earth around you. Notice any insects, plants or animals that you might see and remember that they are there when you don't see them also. Notice your breath. Notice your thoughts and your awareness. You are an expression of nature. Give thanks, rejoice and be at ease. Take this luxury of human consciousness and bring it to bear in the defense of the natural world around you.
A list like this is bound to be incomplete. It is only meant as an inspiration for you. Everyday countless opportunities present themselves for us to act on behalf of the environment. By developing your awareness and consciousness of the environmental crisis you can have a beneficial impact. By persevering in these matters in our personal lives, we begin to be able to hold our governments and corporations responsible. The amount of resources that one person uses are very small compared to a nation or large corporation. However, laws and boards of directors create policy that these entities follow. We can have an effect on the politicians and the C.E.O.s. They will listen to our voices, our votes, and our dollars. Every day is an opportunity for action. Hone your perception, influence and knowledge so the things you do help green the earth and inspire the people around you.