The environmental change crisis isn’t a myth – it’s our reality. So it’s never been more urgent for us to become promoters and advocates of a green and sustainable lifestyle. “Going Green” or getting involved with Eco-shopping isn’t a fad – it’s our only alternative. Sure, it’s difficult to replace our consumerist culture with one that is mindful and environmentally friendly. But if we want to protect our planet, our only home, we have to begin making changes.
More importantly, these changes have to happen at all levels, from top to bottom. We need to address our personal consumption, collective waste culture and corporations’ negligence of this critical matter.
In her book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein argues that our economic system is at war with the environment. This means if we want to change, we need to think more radically than recycling – we need to challenge our ideas and the capitalist culture entirely if we’re going to see positive things happen. An excerpt from Klein’s book published by the Guardian reads: “If enough of us decide that climate change is a crisis worthy of Marshall Plan levels of response, it will become one.” So it’s up to us to first understand the crisis and then to put pressure on authorities, corporations, governments and those in power – which directly influence (for the worse) our environment and its health.
While campaigning against authorities and those in power is essential, it doesn’t mean that individuals don’t have a personal responsibility. We need to see the big picture – we need to demand systematic changes from our so-called leaders. But we also need to individually and collectively re-shift and re-direct our culture from its material and waste-obsessed habits to one that is responsible and sustainable.
By changing our existing culture regarding spending and consumption, we first have to change our mode of thinking. This means our relationship with the material world has to change. We live in a world that celebrates commodity, spending and money. We can’t expect a healthier environment without a healthier way of thinking. The well-being of our planet depends on an internal and cultural change that values life and health over luxury and glamour. Sure, recycling plastic bottles is an excellent first step, but we need to seek a different kind of change that eliminates the use of plastic and reduces our consumption overall.
Individual habits are crucial because our personal practices and ideas ultimately transcend to a culture that favours a healthier planet or is neglectful of our environment. So, no doubt using less energy, recycling, eating less meat and walking to work will help the state of our planet. It’s undoubtedly a great place to start. Still, it’s also important to continuously keep ourselves updated, aware, and in touch with the reality – going green and making severe and daily changes need to be followed with an effort to also push back against our mainstream culture of waste. And as a people, our next and most crucial step is to collectively demand environmental change in our systems and make climate change the crisis it already is.