Why Should We Care About The Environment?
I remember the first time I was conscious about my environmental footprint. There was a presentation or workshop being done at my elementary school and I filled out a questionnaire to see where I stood on the spectrum of environmentally sustainable options within my home. I actually ranked on the lower side (ie. "more" sustainable than most) because my family had always composted, recycled and avoided using single-use items, especially plastics (no ziplocks for me!). When I saw the results of the questionnaire I wasn't proud of where I landed on that spectrum, because I hadn't made the conscious choices to be placed there. I had my parents to thank for that.
From that point on, I realized I wanted to make conscious choices to reduce my environmental impact. The easiest place to start? Turning off the lights when no one was in the room. I started monitoring this hardcore in my household, to the point where it got annoying, so I'm not as INTENSE about it now since my family is allowed to you know, be human. However, the lights were just the tip of the (melting) iceberg. Since my childhood I've gradually tried to reduce my impact by making conscious choices. Now is everything I do environmentally friendly? Absolutely not. But I think it's important to work towards changing small things, which will lead to a bigger impact. I think even if I'm just carrying around my reusable mug and someone who chooses disposable mugs asks about it - that's the start of a discussion about the environment. And discussions can lead to change!
Now I'm not an eco-warrior about things. I don't start fights, I don't shame other people's decisions. But I try to make conscious environmental decisions based on research and then if someone cares to question or comment, then I try to start a conversation.
"Why should we care about the environment?"
Well, why shouldn't we care about the environment? What's the harm in doing so? We know through research that our consumerism is directly harming our environments all over the world - so clearly the status quo isn't working: it's harmful. Is making environmental choices adding extra harm? No, it's lessening harm. Lessening is better than leaving it as is!
Another reason is maybe one that only I care about because I like history, art and museums. Preservation and conservation is so important to keep things safe for future generations to enjoy. I'd love for our world and environment to be in good condition for future generations! So I try to make choices that will help with environmental conservation.
What about being outdoors, breathing fresh air and being surrounded by nature? A lot of us enjoy outdoor sports or outdoor events like festivals and concerts. Imagine a world where the air pollution is so bad that it makes those things unsafe to do outdoors. Imagine not being able to swim in a lake because it's so nasty! In some places in the world those are people's realities. And I don't want that to be their reality, nor do I want my backyard to become that either. So making active choices to reverse negative impacts and to avoid future harm is important!
The last thing is to pull on our animal-loving heartstrings and explain the death trap that is our garbage for wildlife. It's heartbreaking and awful so I won't go into detail here. But, think of the animals!
"Me changing one little thing won't make a difference"
Okay sure, making one small change isn't going to stop climate change and reverse hundreds of years of damage. However, making one little change is a really big deal. Think of one less animal dying because they accidentally ate garbage that was littered in their environment. Think of one less bag of garbage to pull to the curb the night before garbage day. Think of one less tonne of e-waste being shipped across the world for another nation to "deal with." Less becomes more. More safe habitat for animals. More clean nature to enjoy for ourselves and for future generations. More care and empathy that we've developed through the process.
We can think about environmentalism in a super selfish way. It can be a way to improve ourselves as people, to improve people's perception of ourselves, to improve our own life or environment. We can also think of environmentalism in a selfless way. It can be about wildlife, it can be about conservation for the future, it can be about allowing the natural world to thrive once again. Whatever our reason is, I hope that it leads to conscious decision-making. Because every change for the better does matter.