By Maggie Riddington. First published in Issue 4 of The Warragul Citizen. (12 March 2012.)
Most people think that to be an environmentalist you have to tie yourself to a tree or sail the high seas in search of whaling ships so you can stop them firing harpoons at endangered species, risking life and limb for the cause. A lot of people also think that if you identify yourself as an environmentalist others will take that to mean that if food has eyes you don’t eat it, you don’t shower and you’re liable to start singing Kumbayah at any moment.
But that isn’t the case. Being an environmentalist isn’t about the extremes; it can simply be about making sure that you are aware of your own impact on the environment and that you make an effort to reduce any harm your lifestyle causes. You can express care for the environment by making your home more sustainable. Once again, I don’t mean you have to have the biggest solar panel system in West Gippsland to be on your way to sustainability (though it would certainly help). Being more conscious of the energy you use and the waste your household produces is an environmental action. Make one day a week meat-free for your family, start filling your pantry with organic and non-GM foods and opt to walk or ride your bike when you can rather than always using your car. You hear these solutions over and over again, but they really are simple to do and not only do they benefit the environment but they benefit you and your family.
The first big step you can take on the road to environmentalism is simply to educate yourself on various environmental issues. If you can’t see why organic food is better for you and the earth – look it up, go to the library or ask someone who does know. There are a lot of resources out there if you look.
A lot of inaction is caused by a bad attitude towards the environment and those who advocate its protection. In the same way a ratty teenager needs to understand that their parents are their support system and have their best interests at heart, us humans need to realise that the earth is our foundation for life. Not only does it supply all the resources we need but it gives us joy through its immense beauty. A positive attitude towards the earth can go a long way and should not be underestimated. So go and start up a compost bin or make your next purchase at an op-shop instead of a shopping centre and you will be part of a change that needs to be made in the world. Think global, act local.
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