Being a normal 23 year old vs. saving the world
Pollution, animal extinction, shrinking natural resources, the ozone layer depleting, and the greenhouse effect are all direct causes of human existence. Paradoxically, they all jeopardise our very own existence. The evidence is undeniable, we are not acting fast enough - if we are even acting in the right way at all.
Ever since I dedicated myself to the journalistic path in the pursuit of social improvement, I've found it hard to not take social issues I encounter in my work as my personal liability. It's a constant internal battle, and it's especially hard to find the balance when it comes to living ecologically.
The common pitfall in people's attitude towards fully committing to an ecological lifestyle, is that the environment is common property. To make a visible change a big effort must be made.
One individual's contribution affects other people as much as oneself, whereas abstinence from consumption is often at our own expense. People feel their individual efforts don't make a difference and that it should come from the industry to not sell and produce environmentally harmful products.
I've been struggling for a while with finding the personal balance to invest in the environmentalism I preach to others and dream of for our planet. I really consider it my personal obligation to behave ecologically. It's a constant internal battle between being a normal 23-year-old living in a society that conditions people to pollute and wanting to save the planet.
My heart literally breaks every time I pick up garbage in nature in. Nature is so beautiful and powerful, and humanity is so dependent on it in so many aspects. Much more than the environment needs humanity anyways...
I haven't eaten meat in two years, which to be honest hasn't really been a hard thing to give up. There are so many arguments for not consuming meat, animal rights probably being the biggest factor tipping the scale for me.
The battle begins in restaurants and cafés where the only vegetarian option typically has either avocado or quinoa, or both. As for most superfoods, they've both become highly popular in the Western world for its nutritional benefits. Within a few years the production of these have sky-rocked. Super-foods are typically grown in countries far away, so it requires lengthy transportation to bring them to our supermarkets, further increasing the environmental footprint of consuming superfoods makes.
Everyday I bring a tote bag filled with Tupperware containers packed with my breakfast, lunch, snack and sometimes dinner if I have a very long day ahead of me. The cutlery is of course self-brought metal, that goes without saying.
I'll commute between different supermarkets in the attempt to find fruit and vegetables that's organic and not packed in plastic. Preferably from the country I'm located in, or a considerable radius around, without completely tearing my student budget apart.
One of my biggest headaches is transportation. During my everyday life I can definitely with good conscious say that I move around ecologically. I always bike and take public transportation. My nomad lifestyle is the real issue. Every four, five or six months I jump on a plane and move to a different country. Emission from tourism has increased 40% in the last four years. When I think about my personal contribution, I must admit that the past four years of my life have been the most travelled. The world has become so wonderfully small that we can go anywhere within a day and prices are becoming more and more assessable for the average person. But are we taking travelling for granted and on the expense of mother earth?
The current world conditions people to be wasteful - often its more complicated and expensive to behave ecologically.
Why is it not a choice in stores if costumers want to keep the bill before it's already been printed? Even better, why do we even have printed bills, the email has been invented for a reason?
Toothpaste is another big frustration of mine. I understand practical aspect of the box the tube comes in, but I find it hard to see how that outweighs the fact the the box is not necessary at all? We frequently buy tubes of food, hygiene products etc. which never come in boxes, however it seems impossible to find toothpaste that doesn't come in an unnecessary layer of cardboard.
I often find myself in situations as a young individual, with a growing career, an active social live and a lust for exploring, where I consume or do things that I know are ecologically harmful, but in the moment there aren't other options.
Or I do something, like moving to South Korea in September. It could have avoided, but it's been a dream for years, so I sacrifice my ecological beliefs for some K-pop? I feel the guilt and the shame for the beautiful planet, I call home along with the rest of humanity. We don't need one person that does it perfectly but a whole society doing it imperfectly. At least that's how I sleep at night having had the quinoa salad for lunch.