Ideas for Rethinking What We Do: Building the 3 R's
Harking back to Sesame Street, I'd like to propose to you that today's Eco Fest was brought to you by the letter R and the #8.
We're probably all familiar with the 3 R's: reduce, reuse, and recycle, so I'm not going to spend time talking about them. Instead, I'd like for you to consider 5 more R's as you walk around the booths and talk to other people who are dedicated to protecting the environment.
The first R is Refuse. Some things are easy to refuse, like plastic bags. Think about how long you use a plastic bag for - maybe 2 to 5 minutes to carry your groceries from your car into your house? Or less than a minute to carry your Subway sandwich to a table? But those bags can last hundreds, maybe even thousands of years. So if you don't need it, refuse it. The same is true for junk mail and unwanted catalogs. There are easy ways to refuse those items and avoid the waste altogether.
But some challenges are more demanding - we need to refuse to be complacent. Though tempting, we must refuse to believe that someone else will solve our problems for us. We are that someone else! Yes, it is a tough challenge at times. But seeing you here today gives me confidence that we're all refusing to ignore these current environmental issues. And that's awesome.
The second R is Reply. We need to reply to elected officials, community organizers, friends and family. Your experience is just as valid as anybody else's. So are you replying to the call of action? Just this week, I attended the Community Forum for Economic Development. It was an eye-opening experience because I realized how many things I take for granted in our city. There are many people who work hard to make South Bend a great place for us to live.
But you know what else? I heard residents voice their concerns at the meeting. There were folks who wanted to know what action was taking place on Portage Ave regarding sewage issues; folks who wanted to better understand why power lines are being placed on Western Ave. These people replied to a message and took the opportunity to have their voices heard when it mattered most.
There's another call for public action on July 12th - I hope you reply to this message by going to the public forum to help guide the future of LaSalle Square.
And please reply to the Sustainability Network so that you can be linked to other groups and people in the Michiana area who are actively working on sustainability and conservation initiatives. Introduce yourself to Jessica at the Taproot Circle booth to join the Sustainability Network today.
The third R is Reeducate. Coming to Eco Fest today gives us a chance to reeducate ourselves about the food choices and lifestyle decisions we make on a daily basis. If you ever wanted to gain a better understanding about fair trade coffee, then stop by the Chicory Cafe booth for that free lesson. And if you want to learn more about portion sizes and the importance of reducing our meat consumption, then you'll want to visit Judith at the Earth Friendly Eating booth. Take advantage of this free reeducation!
The fourth R is to Remember the Big Picture. When you come to festivals like this one, it's easy to get bombarded with information about the do's and don'ts, the pros and cons, of just about any environmental issue. How will you protect yourself from "green fatigue"? Part of the defense is to remember the big picture, why we're doing this to begin with. For others, it's about caring for plants and animals and the ecosystem we're dependent on as part of our survival. And other people integrate global equality as part of their mission to protect the environment. There's probably a host of other reasons why people get involved in environmental action. Whatever the reason, take a moment to remember your big picture, and how you're trying to make this world a better place for yourself, your loved ones, other people, plants, and animals.
This leads me to the fifth and final R and that's to be Responsible. By refusing to give up, by replying to the environmental call to take action now, by reeducating yourself and remembering the big picture, you are taking responsibility. Now, this responsibility should not just happen on an individual basis, although it does start with you making a decision to act. We also need communities, businesses, schools, local, national, and international governments to take responsibility, too. Today is a testament to taking that responsibility seriously and doing so across the board.
So as you mingle around the booths and make new friends and contacts, I hope you will see for yourself that today's Eco Fest was indeed brought to you by the letter R and the #8. Thank you.