If it is important enough, you will find a way. If it is not, you will find an excuse.
I believe in that quote, and recently, I believe the latter is happening more than the former. People end up not helping anyone as an excuse to be fair to everyone.
If you’re wondering how this quote weaseled its way into my post, then I’ll answer your question by saying this: saving the world is one of the causes you’d have to donate money to if you want results. Some people choose not to donate under the excuse that they can’t help everyone, and it would be unfair to donate to just one. But they’re kidding themelves- money we spend on ExxonMobil would be used better if we gave it to Feeding America. There are different ways to “save” the world: in the literal sense, we can join Greenpeace, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization focused on protecting oceans, saving endangered species, and stopping global warming. Or we can do more simple actions, such as creating a Christmas box for poor children all around the world or .
But we can’t always help. I know there have been times when our parents didn’t have cash on them to donate to the Salvation Army Bell Ringer, and we’d have to sadly walk past them. But there have also been times when we choose not to aid because of the “unfairness”. “How do you choose?” seems like a simple enough question. Not exactly. We can be suckered into pity pleas, or heart-tugging videos like the one below:
You should choose based on what your interests are. I’m particularly fond of children and the environment, so I got reminder emails from No Kid Hungry and Greenpeace, and I love giving change to Salvation Army Bell Ringers and people on the street.
Now that I’ve broken your excuse, you can’t say that you won’t help the environment because you have to worry about your job- they’re not exactly mutually exclusive. Helping one doesn’t mean you’re hurting the other. Carpooling to work isn’t going to waste you money- in fact, it’s doing quite the opposite. You only have to drive once a week if you have four other carpool members, so you can cut your gas bill by over 75%. And if you worry that you don’t have time, ask yourself- How much time does it take to turn off the lights when you leave a room? Here are some easy, helpful hints to be an effortless, green, smart-spender:
1) Turn off the water when you’re not using it (ie. brushing your teeth or shampooing your hair).
2) Check your carbon footprint to see where you could be saving energy and money!
3) Walk or bike places you don’t have to drive to (for example, I walk to a pizzeria that’s less than a mile away from where I live).
4) Carpool (check above).
5) Buy local- if you buy locally from farmers markets, the food doesn’t travel as far. This way, the farmers and sellers don’t have to charge you for the gas it takes to get to your plate.
7) Combine trips- drop off your kids from school on the way to work, go to CVS on the way back from school, etc. You already have a base distance you must travel to get to your destination- get your errands done on the way.
The point is, you can’t not donate because helping would be unfair. That’s like saying you won’t do any homework because you won’t have time to do any other homework. Donating can be one and done, or it can be long-lasting. It’s your choice, but deep inside, know you’re avoiding something and making an excuse.
That’s right- the excuses stop here.
You know the story about being wrong? We’ve all been told the story of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote at least once in our lives. It goes like this- a coyote is walking and marches off a cliff. He’s fine, walking on air- until he realizes he has nothing to walk on. The coyote only falls when he realizes he is wrong. Being wrong and realizing you’re wrong are totally different. So the answer to the title question is: nothing. But does that mean our actions are in vain? No, not necessarily.
And the point is this: we, the people of America, need more unbiased information if we want to do anything about the Earth. Notice how I didn’t say global warming, global cooling, or the apocalypse. I don’t know enough to really be 100% right. I used to think that recycling, eating vegetarian, and turning off every single light in my house would save the world. But now, thanks to a discussion with The New York Times environmental blogger Andrew Revkin (of dot earth, an environmental blog within The New York Times) I know that even if one family were to do that, it really wouldn’t help. And that’s when I realized I was wrong.
So what would help? Switching an entire community or even a populated, energy-using neighborhood to better energy resources (like renewable resources), for one. Changing our transportation habits would definitely make a difference. After checking out my carbon footprint, I learned that taking a car traveling to school/ work took up most of my Bigfoot carbon footprint. I uses 14 tons of energy a year (which is the same as the average grown up), but within less than 40 years, I should lower it to 2 tons! Checking out your carbon footprint is essential if you really want to know how you impact the earth.
Well, the graph really speaks for itself. We all know we should carpool, yes? But if we could, we probably would be carpooling to work or school.
My final project is on changing lifestyle habits, and my partner and I are trying to answer the essential question: “How could influencing young adults to shop at farmers markets and/or garden with their parents help the environment, their health, and the economy?” And this, my fellow people of the earth, is where farmers markets and eating local and organic comes into play. Eating local foods from farmers market really affect a person’s health. Not only is the food super fresh, but the consumer almost has to eat their vegetables and fruits. Also, eating locally means the romaine lettuce and carrots we crunch don’t have to travel the hundreds of miles they usually do to end up on our plates. Did you know garlic that we cook with is usually grown in China? Now I know that 5% doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you compare that percentage to other parts of the graph we send out, it stands out. To reduce carbon emissions by changing your lifestyle habits realistically, go to a farmers market or garden at home! And I know we can’t always pick fresh tomatoes from the garden we don’t have in our backyard, so I will continue to try and find more realistic ways of “green” living.
So, how does it feel being wrong? Like a slap to the face? Or more like, I cannot believe I did all that for nothing!? You learn from your mistakes. In this case, your mistakes would be assuming that the organic food you buy at the supermarket is good for the environment or keeping the lights on in fear of burning out your light bulbs. Think, observe, make a difference.
“We’re too busy saving ourselves- no one saw it go.”
“You think it will last forever- people and cars and concrete; but it won’t- one day it’s all gone, even the sky”
Yeah, the end of earth. I know. So that’s the bad news. We wait- we wait until someone like Rose Tyler can only watch when Earth explodes. Now, I know you’re a bit skeptical-the world might not blow up, we won’t be here so we shouldn’t care, God will save us, etc. But in the end, Earth will have to end, whether it explodes or whatnot. We make everyday decisions- ranging from what mode of transportation we take to what we serve at dinner- that affect the health of our planet. It’s just like the human body. You can’t expect to eat fried Mars bars and brownies each day and not expect to go into cardiac arrest eventually. We choose the change.
But let’s not dwell on the negative! I have to give people some credibility.
When I read kaylac0017’s article on a company that pays people to recycle, I had an aha! moment.
Look at that! Isn’t it amazing? How a bag could be born from juice pouches? Upcycling is the unofficial action of creating everyday items like totes, pencil packs, and laptop cases out of, well, trash. And I know what you’re thinking: how can that be? (And I wish I got rich off that). The idea for the product came from a then freshman college student. He wasn’t a savvy businessman like he is now- just a little person who cared. Like I said before, we are the change. In fact, I actually collect juice pouches and sign up for other brigades (projects) to end waste. Ever since 6th grade, when I read the back of a dark chocolate M&M’s bag, I’ve been collecting LUNA Bar wrappers and Honest Kid’s juice pouches.
So in the end, what the earth ends up like is what we allow it to be. It doesn’t matter what we think- movement comes only with movement! You decide whether Earth becomes your trashcan or your Garden of Eden.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. This title came to me when I thought back and reflected on An Inconvenient Truth. It’s inconvenient, all right. Anyone would have to know that if you make a documentary about a topic as controversial as global warming, people will start to get heated up. But sometimes, people will just take time to write what they believe is the raw truth. No side-changing opinion. Take this pointing out some of Al Gore’s mistakes, for example.
“For my part, I would say that strictly speaking, Gore oversimplified certain points, made a few factual errors and, at times, chose the wrong poster child (Mount Kilimanjaro should have been replaced by any number of Alaskan or Andean glaciers, for instance). It’s unfortunate, but it remains the most comprehensive popular documentary on climate change science I have seen.”
This is the closing paragraph for the more or less quiet article. The way New Scientist isn’t bashing Al Gore is a sign to me that this critique isn’t as biased as other articles I’ve read. So this starts my monologue on how things aren’t exactly what they seem.
Although this sounds off topic, I’m going to talk about Starburst wrappers and plastic stereos. You remember all those things made out of wrappers and boxes? The Hershey bar wrapper headband? The bottle cap dresses?At first, I thought it was an amazing idea, and I won’t lie, I even started collecting LUNA Bar wrappers and Capri-Sun pouches. But, something just a little out of my environment made me lose my biased standpoint. Are they really *upcycling* old materials into new items? No, I don’t think so anymore. I wanted to buy speakers but when I looked at reviews about them, I learned that they are just the decoration to the plastic (I’m pretty sure the plastic isn’t even recycled) stereo that produces bad quality.
I don’t know about you, but I am easily swayed. PETA, that extremist website that protects animals, has made a big difference on my life. But did you know that they put animals to sleep? I’d direct you to a page of theirs, but the pictures are more disturbing than you can imagine. No, they’re not dead cats and dogs on the street. They’re of animals that have faces that look like cement, because they’re clearly rotting. THESE PICTURES ARE DISTURBING, so take caution. I’m still haunted by the pictures; so many of the animals we euthanize suffer even before they die, all because us humans: 1) don’t spay/ neuter our pets 2) abandon animals in the most dangerous places 3) choose to look in the opposite direction of a suffering being. (I think you can tell, but I still unintentionally back PETA up a little)
Really, the grass isn’t greener on the other side. It may seem like that, but the mind can be tricked. What happens if we don’t see the truth? Will our children and our grandchildren be able to experience what our parents and grandparents got to see? Will there even be an earth left to enjoy?