Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Participatory Environmentalism: Where The Grass Is Still Green

This year’s Climate Change Conference created a point of inspiration. I’ve been thinking about all the parts and players, realizing that I was hesitant to blog about any of it. We like to keep it light around here, after all. But was that really the bone of contention? No, probably not. She does what she wants, and says what she wants. But, gosh I post about pasta and there’s meat all over the place on this thing, not everything is organic… and sometimes I buy things made in China ::Oh Lord I’ve said it:: So - who am I?! (in pointed accusation) to talk about Environmentalism?! 

Vegans will crucify me. I don’t want to war with anyone online, especially not about the hypocrisy of my use of pork products, while discussing recycling. These are the things I’m mulling over when I come to the realization. How many people out there are intimidated by devout naturalists whose passions ring true, but whose processes segregate those that aren’t “all in?” How dangerous it is when we, without realizing it, in the process of judging someone else’s involvement in a movement, actually disengage those who aren’t prepared for “all in” but were prepared for “up-to-my-ankle” for now.

I’ll stick to myself here, as I can only speak to that. Trying to do my part everyday through recycling, upcycling, reusing when I can, gardening, trying to eliminate waste and to buy local and/or organic when possible, sometimes just feels too little, too late after reflection on the grand scale - globally- nationally- futuristically. That said, all of us on board doing what we can is better than doing nothing. We are, all of us, in it together. We’ve reached critical mass, as sheets of ice the size of Rhode Island are disappearing into the ocean, encroaching our beaches and the weather swirls around us as a sharp reminder of what’s at stake. Today, deferring environmental responsibility is no longer an option. 

We cannot look blindly at our extreme weather events and deny that Climate Change stands to be a huge influence on the #FutureofFood. Drought, flood, extreme weather ensure one thing... famine. What used to be a very scary prediction, that right here, in our country, WE will be affected, is upon us. That was when we had the luxury of deciding whether Global Warming was real or not, deciding whether we believed in Climate Change

Equate this to another time in our history, when people had the chance to decide whether they believed the Earth was flat, or if the rumors were true that some new age explorers had found it to be round. I’m sure that was an unpopular notion. It sort of changed everything. For a short time, I imagine there was a divide between those who accepted the news and those who didn’t see the proof. Until it was no longer acceptable to “decide” because there was, in fact, only one truth. Right now, the pendulum is swinging fast for the other direction when the shoe drops, when the possiblility of the Earth being flat is no longer accepted. In fact, we have seen more and more farms throughout the states requiring subsidies for lost crops, diseased crops, lacking irrigation resources and under the stress of drought.

Judgment from would be good-doers discourages those that want to take part, but not give their life to it. You want to be more environmentally conscious, but you're not ready to live off-grid. You want to eat more wholesome but can't afford organics all the time, trips to the Farmer’s Market don’t fit the schedule, you’re never going to become a vegan, etc... Don't let the extremist discourage you. Don't give them the power of your refusal to try. We always hear from the extremists, never the person doing what they can. No one wants to argue with the extremist about why they aren't doing enough. 

Between the inert and the extreme, there are those of us just doing what we can, when we can, even when it's not the easier choice. Participatory Environmentalism. IT IS OKAY. Better than okay. Yes, I buy clothes new, we eat meat- not always organic either ::GASP:: sometimes we even buy a happy meal, sometimes we shop at Walmart ( a.k.a. the store that must not be named), sometimes we buy things we don't need, sometimes we drive vehicles that aren't gas savers, we crank the air conditioning (115 degrees y’all). On the other hand, we are conscious, we care, we are informed, and we do what we can when we can even when it's not the easy choice. 

It can be simple, small changes like these that make your small, but important changes:

-Recycle, and recycle everything- plastics, old aluminum foil, packaging materials. Find out what your local center accepts- you'll probably find out it's a lot more than you knew!

-Use your own grocery bags or save plastic grocery bags and recycle them at designated locations. 

-Shop second hand. 

-Support your local community garden or use some yard space to grow seasonal fruits and veggies.

-Use your disposal for fruit and veggie scraps, or compost them instead of trashing them.

-Reuse old baskets as planters in the yard to grow your own herbs or small edible plants.

-Make your own non-toxic all-purpose cleaner with vinegar, baking soda, lemons and water. 

-Buy products that support local economies. These can be anything from local made honey to accessories like purses or bracelets made by women in poor communities, to buying from co-op style meat providers.

-If eating out, find restaurants that support local growers or farm-to-table style dining.

-When shopping Amazon, use and support an environmental non-profit. Amazon will donate a percentage of each purchase made through their Smile program.

-When ready to buy a new car, consider hybrid. Technology for eco-friendly cars has made great advances and variety of models has grown greatly over the last few years.

-Remember, our buying power is what makes the greatest waves. The more demand for organics, non toxic's, solar power, etc... the greater advances large companies will get on board to make changes.

Of course, change is sometimes hard. It's uncomfortable. But baby steps turn into movements. Each and Every sliver of participation from anyone of us... contributes... stands to influence. To influence the environment, to influence those little eyes watching and mimicking you, to influence your neighbor, stranger, friend, foe, whoever. This is the beauty of what we are here to do - hopefully inspire one another & lift one another up, to teach the next generation how to do it better than we have, as our parents have shown us how to do things better than they did (or, at least, what NOT to do.) These threads travel through time and weave the cloth that speaks to our legacy. What will be ours? 

Check out some of my favorite climate & food related websites keep up with new information here:

Until next time... We'll be back in the kitchen!!! :)

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