Years ago, when I began my formal learning on environmental topics, I thought I had all of the answers about pollution. It was industry, manufacturing, agribusiness, and big corporations who were responsible for pollution. They were the problem. They needed to clean up their acts.
It didn’t take long for me to see the flaws in my thinking. The more I studied, the more I realized that my own actions had a bigger negative impact than I thought. My car released too many pollutants. My appliances used more than my fair share of electricity. I wasted more food and threw away more trash than I should. For a short while, I felt guilty and sad. It wasn’t them, it was me! But here’s the good news: If I’m the problem, I can make a difference through my own actions!
I didn’t have to fight huge corporations; I could start by making changes at home. Our family started on the path to a more sustainable life by growing and raising most of our own food, which is my heritage. I quit my bottled water addiction, realizing along the way that stainless steel water bottles full of my own (free) well water were much more fashionable. We lowered the thermostat in winter and did the opposite in summer. I started timing my showers to reduce water usage. We cut our food waste and learned to buy less stuff. We learned to live simply, more sustainably, and along the way we found our lives to be more fulfilling.
And now, over 7 years later, I’ve come full circle. I feel that I’ve made as many changes to my lifestyle as I’m able or willing to make. I don’t feel like a hypocrite when I say that it’s industry’s turn, and I’m going to do my best to see it happen.
I need to be politically active if I want to see positive changes happen on a larger scale. Though I’d much rather watch the Science Channel than C-SPAN, I’m making efforts to be more aware and involved in environmental legislation. I need to be an educated citizen; I need to vote; I need to take political action.