Do you give a shit about the environment? It’s just one of those things, right – if the question is asked, the answer is invariably ‘yes’, but as soon as ‘eco measures’ or ‘green living’ enters the conversation, eyes glaze over and everyone starts thinking about whether or not they need to put a wash on that evening.
The fact of the matter is, talking about ‘saving the environment’ is dull to the average human being. Trust me, I’d know – I’ve worked in the ‘green’ sector for the last two years and there are two types of people: environmentalists who will listen to you talk about the environment over seeing their firstborn child take its first steps, and everyone else.
But talking about ‘the environment’? That’s a completely different thing. I don’t mean in broad brush strokes and soundbites like environmentalists do – I mean talking about the incredible places we live, we visit, we spend years of our lives and huge chunks of our income to experience. From fond childhood memories of British beaches to incredible journeys to exotic climes; it’s part of human nature to want to explore the sheer awesomeness of the planet we are lucky enough to live on.
Our love affair with the environment isn’t contained to would-be and hard-worn travelers. David Attenborough has inspired generations by bringing weird and wonderful animals and their habitats to our living rooms. When we’re not being soothed by his insights, we’re getting our nature fix with a dolphin video or a monkey GIF – and I won’t even go into the global scandal ignited by the death of Harambe the gorilla.
But we’re yet to join the dots between the places and creatures we love and the damage being done to them. The complexity and scale of environmental damage is so huge it can obscure our relationship with it, but until we do, we’re going to continue to be appalled by natural disasters and loss of ecosystems without understanding our culpability.
I had my own epiphany with bottled water. I love the sea, and I had my eyes opened to what plastic is doing to it by seeing campaigns like this one from Surfers Against Sewage. In my head, something clicked – I bought a stainless steel bottle, and it made no sense NOT to use that instead of buying plastic. I didn’t do it because someone told me to, or because I wanted to be able to label myself ‘sustainable’. I just decided to not be part of the problem of plastic in the sea anymore.
It can be hard to get enthusiastic about sustainability – even the word is boring – but it’s easy to care about the things you love. Those amazing sceneries that are dear to us and the animals we love need us. If we can convert our passion for those environments into passion for the WHOLE environment, the world might have a chance of becoming a better, rather than a worse, place.
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