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May 29, 2010 / Jenny Ann Fraser

Why Aren’t We Saving Mother Earth?

I wonder how long this beautiful Earth will be able to survive us?

I think that we all owe the Earth a hell of a lot more than we are giving.

For over a month now, thousands upon thousands of gallons of oil have been pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. The Executives of the three companies involved are busy trying to shift responsibility to each other, and while they focus on that, part of the planet is being destroyed.

While we watch the disaster unfold, with terror, disgust, sadness, fear or indifference, there is so much talk of blame. Blaming the oil companies, (perfectly reasonable) blaming the Government for not forcing the oil companies to do more (also perfectly reasonable). What I’m not hearing, is a lot of talk regarding our personal responsibility for the choices we make each day that create this insatiable demand for more and more. Be it oil, oil by-products and over-consumption that leads to other serious environmental consequences.

We all vote for the corporations that are destroying our Earth, and exploiting our people with our money. That’ a pretty powerful endorsement.

How long do we continue destroying the only home we have in order to feed our insatiable egos with material posessions? Until she has nothing left to give? Then what? What will it take to get us to start making better choices?

We, are collectively responsible for all of the devastation on this planet, and we need to change now. We need to stop waiting for the Governments and Corporations to do something and start doing something ourselves.

To be honest, when the spill first occurred, I un-subscribed from all of my news groups, continued to forget to turn the tv on, avoided all the newpapers… This is not so that I can avoid thinking about it. That would be impossible. But watching CNN with tears streaming down my face quite frankly is a waste of time and energy, and it doesn’t make me a good person. I don’t need to view pictures of dying oil-soaked animals so that I can feel better about myself. The fact that I care is not enough.

I have to do something! Something concrete that will make a difference to the future, no matter how small that difference is. The point is to try. We all need to try much harder.

I haven’t owned a car in about 15 years. I live very comfortably using my feet, public transit and my bike, and the occasional taxi to get where I need to get to. Not having a car is inconvenient at times, but it isn’t a hardship. I also know families with children who live comfortable full lives without driving anywhere. They are teaching their children to care, and be responsible. Walking and using public transit as a family creates more quality family time, and more physical activity which equals better health. There are blessings to be found within every sacrifice we make, if we choose to see them.

Still, I’ve been known to lie awake at night fuming over the fact that I’ve designed my life around protecting the planet for the children of people who don’t care enough not to drive gas guzzling SUVs everywhere. But that is just as useless as crying over news reports. It won’t fix anything, and I can’t change anyone. So, what can I do?

We will never give up the convenience of driving. It’s not a solution that most will ever be willing to embrace so does this mean we’re doomed?

I’m wondering what would happen if each of us committed to doing everything we can? I’m not talking about being more diligent about recycling, conserving energy, etc. Those things are easy so most of us happily do them. Committing to doing everything that we can would mean making some serious changes that affect the way that we live. It would mean making the future of this planet a larger priority than our immediate comfort and convenience. It would mean caring, really caring, about our children’s future.

I’ve decided that instead of being angry, or devastated, I’m going to change. There is more that I can do, so I’m going to focus on that.

A year ago, I started bringing water from home to one of my workplaces instead of buying plastic bottles. (The pipes in this building are old and rusty and drinking from the taps is not an option). As of now, I also commit to not buying soft drinks anymore. This isn’t something I do every day, but often enough to stop. This is a tiny step towards the health of the planet as well as my own health.

Starting tomorrow, I will make sure that I carry my coffee mug with me. No more take-out coffee cups. (note to self; buy a bigger coffee mug).

I’m committing to a minimum of 5 vegetarian meals per week, with the goal of eventually giving up meat all together. The amount of energy it takes to raise animals for food vs. growing food is substantial. Factory farming has a huge negative impact on the environment, and it’s also cruel, so this is a step in the right direction. I must also mention that this is not easy for me, as I am and always have been a hardcore carnivore. The point here is that we have to stop only doing what is easy.

I often work 2 or 3 different jobs at a time just to make ends meet, which is exhausting and time-consuming, and I’ll admit that take-out fast food has been a very large part of my life for quite some time now. It’s pretty impossible for me to come home after a 12 hour day on my feet and 9+ km of walking, make a full meal and clean up afterwards, so I often grab what I can. As of today, I’m going to make an extreme effort to stop that. I can get more organized and plan better so that I have food available when I’m too busy to cook. I won’t starve myself, but I will drastically cut my consumption of take-out packaging and unhealthy food.

I am going to start paying much closer attention to everything that I buy and consume. I have no doubt, that if I committed to it, I could cut my garbage and recycling down. After all, recycling is helpful but still requires a lot of energy.

Finally, I publicly commit to keep trying. If I use my imagination and ingenuity, I’m quite certain that I can do more. Baby steps, but steps non-the-less. As I grow and learn I will add to what I’m already doing.

So, if I can do this, what can everyone else do? How important is saving the planet to you? Are you willing to make changes to your lifestyle so that not only do we have a future, but we have a future that doesn’t include mass devastation due to our own arrogance and greed? Have I just alienated all of my readers? I think it’s worth the risk.

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  1. missmom2u / May 29 2010 3:49 pm

    Very well written! You got your point across without sounding condescending! I wish I could say I have your level of commitment, but I’d be lying! I do agree with you though and I am thinking about what else I can do.

    • jennyannfraser / May 29 2010 3:54 pm

      Wonderful! That was the point. What can we do? And once we’ve mastered that. Ask the question again.
      Thanks Amanda! I’m always concerned about being clear, and was truly worried about coming across as a crazy zealot! (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

  2. Geoff Zinderdine / May 29 2010 9:18 pm

    I agree with your arguments. We need to take greater personal responsibility for the impact of the many decisions we make each day that keep feeding the corporate beast. I strongly suggest reading the book ‘Stuffed and Starved’. Our whole modern food system must change. I am forever shocked by how far away the vegetables in the supermarket come from. It takes a monumental effort to make these simple responsible consumption decisions– we need to change that.

    • jennyannfraser / May 29 2010 9:37 pm

      Hi Geoff! Thanks for commenting.
      I think that the perception of change being extremely difficult is a part of the problem. The thing is, that over time, these changes are possible, and will actually enhance our quality of life. For example, I really love the fact that I stay in shape just going to work and back. If we were willing to commit to changing, we might find over time that it isn’t as difficult as we think.
      Thanks for the book suggestion. I’ll definitely check it out!

  3. Suzanne / May 30 2010 10:10 am

    Good for you Jenni! Unfortunately I am not able to walk to work but I bring both a reusable water bottle and coffee mug to the office. When I go shopping I have a backseat full of reusable shopping bags (Target actually gives you 5 cents off your purchase for each reusable bag you use — not a lot of course but it makes the point).
    If I may also make a book recommendation, I’d suggest both In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

    • jennyannfraser / May 30 2010 11:26 am

      Thanks Suzanne! I’ll look forward to checking out those books!
      That’s great that you’re already taking steps. What kind of difference could we make if we were all willing to take the steps that are more difficult, such as parking the car a day or two a week. Walking to do our shopping. Shopping less..etc.
      I just got back from Tim Horton’s with my new Go Green coffee mug, only to realize that it isn’t any larger than the one I had. Grrrrr! and…. LMAO! I guess I’ll just have to make more coffee!

  4. Emily Jane / May 30 2010 4:33 pm

    WAY. TO. GO. I feel the same way when I see those photos of animals dying because of what we’re doing to the planet and I can’t stop crying. I try and do little things – we buy free-range eggs and organic produce, carry reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, and the fact that I don’t KNOW how to drive may be a blessing in disguise! Thanks for writing about this today and getting the message out there.

    • jennyannfraser / May 30 2010 4:42 pm

      You’re very welcome Emily!
      Ah, if people only understood how it really isn’t all that hard not to drive everywhere! Free range and organic produce Rocks! We really can make a difference. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. rob white / May 30 2010 9:11 pm

    Hi Jenny,
    Your ‘Rubber-meets-the-road’ attitude is wonderfully refreshing. I feel evolution will not look kindly on Mankind unless we really clean up our act. The environmental movement has gained considerable momentum in the past decade, but ultimately it is up to individuals like you and me to make changes in our daily habits (I have adopted some but can do better!). Spreading the word and educating the younger generations is so important. They will be the ones inheriting this mess. If we have more and more people like you influencing our children I believe Mankind can make the innovations necessary to sustain this beautiful planet.
    Blessings

  6. Walter / May 30 2010 10:31 pm

    Perhaps many will not care about the well-being of our Mother Earth but it will take people like you to make a difference. 🙂

  7. Angela Artemis / May 31 2010 3:45 pm

    Janine,
    Wonderful post! I so agree about doing whatever each of us can in our own small way. Baby steps do lead to big strides.

    I actually never started buying bottled water. I always thought it was huge waste of money (the financial planner in me….), not because of the environment. Then two years ago I caught an Oprah show where she showed this huge patch of ocean was completely polluted with plastic bottles and bags. They showed all kinds of sea life and birds caught in the plastic. It was heart-breaking. After seeing that I was also against bottled water for the environmental hazards it posed.

    Thank you so much for this thought provoking article.

    • jennyannfraser / May 31 2010 7:26 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by Angela!
      It’s true, bottles of everything are destructive from their manufacture to their disposal. I’ve never had any fear or distaste for tap water. Just not the rusty sludge that comes out of the taps in a lot of the older buildings in this city. As I mentioned, I often work very long hours, and I drink a lot of water during the day. (2+ litres on average) Water is pretty heavy to carry on top of work tools etc. Now, I try to fill up at other locations when I go for lunch etc.

      • Angela Artemis / Jun 1 2010 7:38 am

        Janine,
        I use a Brita water filter. I’m sure you’ve seen them on sale at the grocery store? It comes with a it’s jug. You just filter the water and then keep it in the fridge.

        Wow – you do drink a lot of water! And, yes it’s pretty heavy to carry around. It’s good then that you don’t mind drinking tap water!

        By the way, I wrote a post at Mystic Musings on Earth Day that fits very nicely with your post here. I included a video of a environmental public service announcement from the 1970s that was one of the first of it’s kind.

  8. Bethan Stritton / Jun 1 2010 10:43 am

    Okay, my pledge is to make the kids (and myself!) walk to school at least twice a week. It’s a good three miles along a cliff path, but now that summer’s here I’m prepared for an earlier start. I’ll also get the children to explain to the other parents/kids in assembly why we are doing this and try to get others doing the same.

    Also, a little while ago me and my daughter printed off loads of sheets from A matter of Trust about the ways that hairdressers can help the oil spill (sending the charity excess hair so that they can make hair mats to soak up the spill). We distributed them to all the local hairdressers, but frankly I’m not sure if anything happened. I guess the next step would be to go around, collect the hair ourselves and send it off ourselves …. It’s worth checking their website if anyone else wants to do the same thing …

    • jennyannfraser / Jun 1 2010 11:44 am

      That’s incredible Bethan!
      Three miles is amazing. Please be sure to write back and tell everyone how your kids did not die from this! LOL.
      I had no idea about the hair thing. That’s amazing! I will be sure to check it out. Maybe we could get a bunch of bloggers together and do something?
      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for all you are willing to do. We really can change the world!

  9. tobeme / Jun 1 2010 3:31 pm

    Jenny Ann,
    As always the change we want to see must begin with us. You have taken some great steps to be the change you want to see and you continue to do so. We each have to do these things because that is what we believe and we can’t worry about what others are or are not doing. Thanks for sharing your actions for it is through examples like yours that others will be inspired to change.

    • jennyannfraser / Jun 1 2010 4:10 pm

      Thank you Mark!
      For some time now, I’ve been contemplating the idea that taking action is a much better feeling than complaining about what’s wrong with the world. I think we all feel helpless much of the time, but the truth is, we’re not. Small steps feel better than no steps at all.

  10. Bethan Stritton / Jun 1 2010 4:28 pm

    Hi Jenny, If the kids make it through a week I’ll let you know what happens!! X

    • jennyannfraser / Jun 1 2010 4:49 pm

      LOL Bethan! Please don’t let me be responsible for killing your kids. I admire your determination… maybe you should all go into training first? Start with small cliffs?

  11. Bethan Stritton / Jun 1 2010 5:15 pm

    Don’t panic Jenny!! They’re country kids who are used to going on long walks …. it’s the idea of getting up that early so they can get to school on time that will kill them!!

    • jennyannfraser / Jun 1 2010 5:26 pm

      Well, that’s refreshing to hear! Yeah, getting up is hard. But maybe I’d be better at it as an adult if I’d had to walk further to school… oh wait, I did. Never mind.

  12. BK / Jun 1 2010 11:24 pm

    Jenny, what a fantastic post and commitment toward saving Mother Earth. I have been thinking what else we can do for Mother Earth and reached the conclusion that it is not much of what else we can do but what are we willing to give up for Mother Earth. Are we willing to give up car and travel on our feet, bicycle or public transport? Are we willing to exchange the air-con for the electric fan? Are we willing to change our diet to be more friendly to our planet? Thus, it is a change of our living and eating habits that can really make a difference.

    • jennyannfraser / Jun 2 2010 1:10 pm

      Thank you for commenting BK. I think we need to realize that these types of changes bring there own rewards. If we got that they wouldn’t seem so impossible.

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