Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Flow & Ebb of Environmental concern

After reading your post "What's Important to me", I thought this would be an interesting response of my own. It was something I wrote on one of my own blogs but thought this a better forum to share.

I recently turned in two term papers for the summer classes I have been taking. Walking home after class (something I have really come to enjoy as it saves energy and money!), I breathed in the fresh, warm summer air and sighed happily. "Ahh I thought, finally some free time to work on my own projects and live a little easier."
Later, sitting in front of my computer, attempting to write a report about Bagfest, an event which took place at IU South Bend and aimed to "Raise public awareness on the consumption of plastic bags and instill personal responsibility that inspires behavioral, environment, and economic changes." We raised 72,440 bags to be recycled in only one day and the event was a huge success, not only with students and faculty, but within the local community who showed up in droves to donate their old, used plastic bags. During the semester that our class worked on this project, students, myself included, were inspired to increase their own environmental awareness and change their attitude towards waste and recycling habits.

I was one who definitely caught the 'green' bug. Although I live in an apartment which doesn't promote recycling, I bought my own bins to separate my glass, plastic, and paper recyclables and I made an attempt to decrease my own waste footprint by using dishtowels instead of paper towels, printing two pages per sheet or using both sides, and reusing what I could. I was truly inspired to take action and did...for a while. Then finals came and life got hectic. Instead of making my own food, I was now eating on the run which meant buying food and throwing away the wrappers and containers that they came in. Instead of taking the time to make sure I brought my recyclables in when my bins became full, I my attention was on what I had to do next and my previous efforts fell to the wayside. Not to say I didn't continue to make the best effort I could. But it got me to thinking. Granted, the smallest effort is better then no effort at all but how do we increase and sustain an attitude of activism and environmental concern on a daily basis? Is this something that has to be done individually or are there ways that we can stay encouraged to continue to fight for a better environment even when life throws us curve balls?

For myself, I continue to think of it as a new year's resolution that I make every year. It goes well for a while and then commitments and deadlines and stress take precedence and it isn't until I can sigh and take a deep breath of clean air that I remember how much more I could be doing for the environment.Still it is one step at a time and Bagfest was at one point referred to as a "grassroots movement." It takes time for change but change is the only constant in life. As for me, I continue to take at least one small step a day and as time goes on perhaps that will increase to two steps a day and after that...who knows.


Michelle Verges, Project Director said...


It's great to see you blogging here. Congratulations on completing your summer classes! :0)

Your post reminded me that we are all works in progress, trying to improve ourselves and our surroundings, knowing there are days when we don't succeed, but recognizing each small step we take will hopefully bring us closer to our goals.

I think you're right: The ebb and flow of environmental concern is dynamic, and not always easy.

Perhaps it's the geek in me, but I've found blogging to be a great place for me to meet other activists around the world who are trying to make a positive difference in their lives. I also have a few friends here in South Bend who are environmentally minded.

And, I must say, your post is encouraging, too. :0)

Anyway, I hope you'll continue to enjoy the warm summer air. And good luck finalizing your BagFest report!


Rey B said...

As a friend I only knew through e-mail and his blog put it "If it was easy any dam-fool could do it!" Doing the right thing whether it be recycling or staying on a diet or other task is not always easy. What you have to remember is that just by trying you are helping. No you won't always be 100% but even 85% is pretty good and maybe tomorrow will be better. I know what you mean about the joy of finishing summer school classes and enjoying the summer air. Now I just have to worry about my campers and not my studying.

Meghan said...

Fresh from biking home in 93 degree heat yesterday (errr, fresh today - not yesterday after that ride!), I feel so motivated to keep going with my activism. But I agree that there are periods where my motivation takes a vacation. I'm glad I get warm fuzzies from doing my part (or more than my part), because I don't know how I'd stay motivated otherwise.

The battle, for me at least, is waged between convenience and intent. It's easy to be intentionally focused when we have all the time in the world. It's a massive challenge when we're 20 miles from home, starving, and 30 seconds from a fast food joint. Don't beat yourself up for caving to convenience - at least you can claim that it's a rarity. That's not common, anymore.