I always found it somewhat ironic that our parent’s generation was willing to spray DDT on the streets of residential neighborhoods but always made sure that the lights were turned off when they left a room. In our generation, I see this reflected in complete reversal. We are more aware of the big environmental picture. We are concerned about global warming and about genetically modified foods, but often cannot be bothered to turn off lights when we leave a room.
Is this better? On the one hand, awareness of large problems will help us to address them and to prevent their occurrence. A prime example would be the near extinction of our national bird, the Bald Eagle, through the spraying of DDT. Once we realized it was harmful to spray our children with pesticide, we were able to ban its use and avoid the ignominy of driving the symbol of our country into extinction.
Our generation is more aware of such dangers but also more complacent to the everyday opportunities that can impact the big picture we care about. Simple actions such as those described by Yasmeen Husain in her article "10 Unexpected Ways to Help the Environment" can make substantial impacts.
Our generation calls for change and wants grand sweeping solutions, which admittedly are needed. However, before we look to place all blame at the feet of the generation that has handed us this world, we should look to adopt some of their more positive behaviors.
The only way to begin this path is through changing individual behavior, yours and mine. Fundamentally, this is about connection to our society and to our world. We don’t need to change how we behave in big dramatic ways that make life miserable, but we should acknowledge and be aware that we are making choices and that those choices, even the smallest, have positive and negative impacts.
Some additional places to start:
1. Guys: turn off the water while you are shaving, turn it on to rinse the blade and then turn it off again. Same thing for brushing teeth.
2. Turn off lights when you leave a room.
3. When in your car, don’t speed up when you see the light ahead of you is red, you’re just paying extra to wait.
4. Buy a water bottle and use it. Similarly, buy a Brita for the office.
5. Educate yourself …. ask Google.
Photo Credit: Orange Steeler