I was listening to an interview with Annie Leonard this morning over on TreeHugger Radio. You might remember her as the "The Story of Stuff" lady, one of my all time favorite web videos. She is embarking on a series of follow on video's relating to issues raised in that first film, "The Story of Cap and Trade", and a recent one on the lunacy of bottled water, see below.
Anyway, Ms.Leonard said something I really liked. I think it goes to the heart of what I've been advocating for some time, that we should transition from being consumers to being citizens and that being good citizens. For me, being a good citizen requires that we reduce our personal consumerism. Ms. Leonards laments the trend to assuming that by just changing our patterns of consumerism we are doing the good work, greening up so to speak. And perhaps that is true but her point, that by buying a water filter to purify our tap water and thus avoiding use of bottled water, is that what we are doing is no more than what we do when we brush our teeth, take our vitamins, or buy organic food. We are merely being responsible adults, taking care of ourselves. This is not the end all and be all of being a good citizen. Yes, it is a small step forward but what about our community, our country, our planet? Being a good citizen is about lobbying for the change you want to see, whether it is about getting flouride and atrazine out of the drinking water in the first place (so you don't need to buy a filter), stopping a big box store from destroying your local economy, or working to start a Transition Initiative to get your community to become more resilient in the face of oil shocks, climate change and bankster fraud. Perhaps, for you it is about working to insure that school lunches are healthy and supportive of local economy, or reducing hate crime in your area, or increasing the walkability of your community. The point is, solutions that rely on consumerism alone, green or not, are not solutions.
I think being a responsible adult requires more than just taking care of our self. We need to accept that being a responsible adult requires us to be a good citizen.
What have you done today to lower your impact?
We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.
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