So says Annie Leonard. By now I’m sure you have all seen the Story of Stuff. Needless to say, it was one of many great educational resources that we tapped into a couple years ago, and it was one of the motivators for the Clean Bin Project.
Well, if you need any more motivation, I recently came across this film of Annie speaking live at the Bioneers Conference.
She manages to be both critical and positive at the same time, raising serious issues like over-consumption, and drawing laughs when describing how she can’t look at an everyday products without seeing its consumer lifecycle of flash through her mind. Once you start thinking about garbage, it seems that there’s no turning it off. . .
To watch parts 2 and 3 of this talk, click here and here.
Personal fact: in my professional life, I work in the field of industrial ecology. Personal disclosure: before I got this job I had never heard of Paul Hawken.
But Paul Hawken is a guy who gets it. He understands what waste, and consumerism, and the environment, and the greater meanings of being ‘socially responsible’ and ‘economically viable’ is all about. Back in the 1990’s, he wrote the book (literally) on the Ecology of Commerce ( it was voted as the #1 college text on business and the environment).
Anyway, he’s the kind of guy who gets asked to speak at university commencement ceremonies, and he’s the kind of guy who says things like:
“This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken.”
“Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.”
Amen to that. I highly encourage you to read his whole commencement address to the University of Portland here. (and thanks to Tracy for the link)
Remember that guest post that Grant’s cousin chronicling his adventure trying to avoid a plastic cup while on an airplane? And then I wrote about Chris Jordan whose art work informed me that 4 million plastic cups are used in the United States airline industry each day?
Well yesterday was the first time I’d been on a plane in a while, and you could definitely say that plastic cups were on my mind.
As we took off, I clutched my reusable mug and prepared to fight for my right to use it. I rehearsed in my mind how I would manoeuvre my way out of a plastic cup: plead, reason, cite the environment, claim the dreaded (but highly effective) “plastic allergy”?
But my fears were unneccessary. I’m happy to report that the good folks at Westjet didn’t bat an eye when I presented my reusable mug. That’s right. I said ‘yes’ to apple juice and flew plastic cup free at the same time!
A small battle, but a perfect example of a choice we can make that could, collectively, have a big impact.
(And before you tell me about how the very act of flying is more detrimental to the environment than a plastic cup, I should probably say that yes, I agree. And I do see the irony.)
We were at a fancy restaurant yesterday evening when Grant accidentally chipped his water glass.
We knew that there was no way the restaurant could continue to use that glass in its chipped state (this was a cloth napkins kind of place). Its future obviously lay in the garbage bin behind the swinging kitchen door.
On the other hand, we were out with Grant’s Mum and a bunch of her friends, and we didn’t want to make a big scene where we would have to explain our entire project to the waiter and potentially have it turn into further explanation with the manager, etc, etc. It was, after all, just a glass.
So we quietly decided that the logical course of action would be to take the glass home with us where it could continue a useful life despite its superficial damage.
And that, my friends, is how we ended up stealing a glass from a fine dining establishment (and justifying it in the name of the environment).
Those few people who were lucky enough to be part of my university car-pool will know that I hate public speaking. They will remember having to pull over on the side of the road on mornings that I had a presentation due so that I could lose my breakfast into the gutter before hopping back into the vehicle (I’m not kidding here)
I actually took a zero for one presentation thinking that the alternative (actually showing up and presenting) was not worth the anxiety.
So who would have believed that I would willingly take up public speaking? Continue reading
A few weeks ago, Grant, Rhyannon, and I were interviewed by Katelyn over at Greenbudget.
She started her blog as a school project, but I think she’s quickly discovering that you can’t just write about sustainability or waste or green initiatives without really starting to get involved and think about your own lifestyle as well. She really researches her topics and covers everything from composting to green purchasing. Plus, she gives great, specific tips on what you can do at home.
Anyway, thanks to Katelyn for interviewing us and making us feel like we are zero waste superheros. Check out the post about us here.