I was supposed to write an essay on recycling/reusing/conserving. This is what I wrote.
The greatest hardship human minds face when confronted with finding ways to preserve the planet from pollution and global warming and extra greenhouse gases is how depressing it all seems and inconvenient. The way that some environmental classes are taught discourages young (and old) students from really trying to solve the problem. In a world where everything happens instantaneously (bills are paid online instantaneously and movies show up on screens instantaneously) it is disheartening to think long-term anymore. They are telling the generation of social networking and revolutions and sudden changes to alter the way they are living significantly so they can have a small impact on the globe. The suggestions given to be more environment-conscious are excruciatingly low on return and basically no one can see their impact on the world, which is the hardest type of investment to convince people to make.
I know that I've had the "What's the point? There's nothing we can do to stop it!" feeling.
Professors that have their facts memorized by heart sit at the front of the class informing us about how bad all our actions are for our planet. Terms are thrown at us: global warming, the end of the world, our future generations, living sustainably, reducing, reusing, and recycling. The students try to think of clever solutions and they witness them get shot down each time. At last, after five 'deja vu's of this scenario, a unanimous conclusion is reached. An end to the world is inevitable; we can only slow it down.
My point is that this is the wrong attitude to approach the situation; how can you expect to find the motivation to actively reduce your wastes, reuse and keep reusing, and recycle correctly and consistently when you cannot even hope to see the results of your actions?
What works best for me is studying the way these three types of actions impact other people. I feel like it is almost part of our regular disposition to save and gather. I am thinking of hunter-gatherers and how environment-conscientious the whole planet was until humans settled down and shaped the earth to suit them. Of course there is no harm in that, but each human being should be aware of his/her human footprint.
Our human imprint is our physical impact on the Earth, from a resource perspective. I would like for people to remember me based on my thoughts and ideas, not what car I drove, or how many houses I bought, or how much food I ate. Because our world is materialistic, we care a lot about buying as many things as we can; the concept of why have money if not to spend it? But I think our greatest treat to the world would be living in as much sync and rhythm with the world as possible. The key word here is being conscious, of your actions and habits. I try to never sleep late and if I have work to do, I have to get up at sunrise and do it. Like when I’m writing this right now. That’s because I literally do not want to waste three or four hours of energy from a light bulb when I could be in a pattern with the world of nature. I think it’s a very fine detail, not a huge deal, but it’s important to mix in reducing with your lifestyle. If going green meant going out of your way, you will find it a challenge to remain consistent. Without meaning to, your subconscious will look at reusing as a burden and an added hardship. I always look for more convenient ways to reduce my burden on the environment because this way, I know I can sustain that type of living for a longer time.
10 Unique Ways to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle:
1. Always write on the front and back of notebook paper.
2. Never ever throw your batteries in the garbage or recycling. Have a drawer for batteries and once a year (or more often than that; I don’t use them as much) take all your used batteries to a battery recycling center.
3. Don’t work at night (unless you have no choice). Wake up early in the morning at sunrise and study/work by the natural light of the sun. It’s a great feeling to see the sunshine brightening gradually and I feel most awake in this situation. It is healthier for you, and lessens the electricity bill, and uses less energy.
4. If it’s cold, wear heavier clothes rather than turning on the heater. Likewise, when it’s very hot, wear less clothes rather than turning on the air conditioner. Most things environment-friendly are also healthier for us and this is no exception. Air conditioners/heaters do not provide fresh air or ventilation and use a lot of energy and are a big cause for house fires and gas leaks.
5. Fill your gas tank only up to half full, rather than a full tank every time. This may be inconvenient, but it helps make me aware of how much gas I am using and pushes me to drive through shorter routes and spend less time idling and wasting gas. When I have a full tank, I drive with less conscious.
6. Ride public transportation. In my eyes, an ideal world would have lots of public transportation, not Hybrids. You can go get a Prius if you want, but there has to be an infrastructure for them if they all hit the road at once. Until that happens, public transportation solves the problem of circling around the mall for an hour looking for parking, or getting lost and wasting more gas. It can also be fun to just ride on a bus or a train with a friend and explore a new place and have fun.
7. Never ever throw food away. No matter what. The saddest moment ever is when food spoils. It’s our responsibility to take care of our food and not waste it or leave it out to spoil. Remember that while a minority in the world can eat until they’re full, the majority is hungry. Don’t ever get brainwashed into the ‘It’s just food!’ mentality or the ‘Food Fight!’ attitude. Food saves lives, and without it, people die. If you insist on purchasing more food than you could eat, you should take the remainder and give it to a neighbor or a homeless person. You can never go wrong with giving them food…and don’t tell me you can’t find either of those!
8. Don’t use things for an extended period at once; Use in moderation so that your belongings last in good condition. Don’t sit down an exhaust one energy source at once. Don’t sit in front of the computer the whole day. Don’t buy a new shirt and be so happy you got it and wear it for like three days. This works really well with my mood and keeps everything working and evenly used.
9. Do not buy new clothes unless they all fit in one place (ex: your closet). If your clothes are more than your closet can handle, do not buy new clothes until you’ve given some away. Don’t ever allow yourself to keep buying; we purchase items to survive and live decently.
10. And finally, always remember those in poverty. Go one day without eating any food and when you break your fast, ponder on the quality of your life and appreciate what you have. Go one day without shoes! I’m doing this on my campus and it’s coming this year on April 10, 2012. For one whole day, walk barefoot or with socks on so that you realize how such a simple blessing you have means so much. Don’t buy a million pairs of shoes; if you buy one, give another away.
I read a book in the Seventh Grade that changed my life. In it, the boy (main character) was discussing his personal philosophy and I've been thinking about it ever since. He has a caps on 70 items. He can own 70 items at most. Whenever he wanted to buy something new, he would have to give something away to honor his rule. And so he decided to go without socks in order to get one pen. It is extremely theoretical; but the part that struck me the most was how unlimited the objects we own are. We have everything, don’t we?
This is what Allah has enabled me to write. Love,