When I was little and my mum asked me to do something, perhaps my homework! I would often reply, “yeah, I’ll do it tomorrow”
“But tomorrow never comes!” She would say. “Of course it does!” I would think “It will be here as soon as today finishes… obviously. God, grownups are so weird!”
But now that I am older (certainly) and a little wiser (maybe…) I get it. And it is one of the biggest problems we face with trying to be more environmentally friendly.
In general as people I think we all fall into the trap of thinking that we have infinite tomorrows. Even when we have reached a point where we know that logically that is not the case, there is a part of us that believes there is always more time, always more tomorrows and so we procrastinate, we put off, we delay. I am not saying this to be scary, or depressing, I for one am hopeful of a great many tomorrows. But I should not use that as an excuse for procrastination, for not doing what I know I could do today. And while it could be easy to digress into almost every area of life here, I am focusing on eco issues.
I believe that one of the greatest battles that we face personally when it comes to changing our habits, our way of life, our spending, what we use, what we waste is that there is no visible impact TODAY. It is the same reason it is so easy to gain weight but so hard to lose it! Because there is no visible impact TODAY. And it is also why it is so hard for us to convince anyone else to change what they are doing, because you have to find your own reason for doing it, you have to find your own reason to change what you are doing, because without a good, solid, passion-fuelled reason, change is hard.
It is why so many people start thinking about their impact only after something has directly impacted them on an emotional level. Maybe their own health or that of a family member has been effected, they may have seen an animal or animals in distress, a beach covered in litter or perhaps David Attenborough tugged on their heart strings. It doesn’t matter what caused the shift, but there is little doubt in my mind that it is only when (the majority of) people see an impact will they make a speedy and decisive change. And we are capable of it. Humans are by our very nature resourceful and adaptable, which is how we have survived so long and have come to live in every far flung corner of the world. If a law was passed tomorrow stating that everyone had to keep their rubbish and waste at home for a year before it was collected then I would wager that the amount of waste that was produced per household would drop dramatically. I am not naive enough to think this an actual solution, before anyone raises their eyebrows at me, but I know that there are people who have tried it, extreme as it may be, but they can see the impact right there in front of them and that has to be pretty powerful.
Does this mean that there is little we can do to help other than outside our personal efforts? No, I think there is still much to be done. Without the pioneers taking matters into their own hands, we wouldn’t have products available to switch to. Without people already switching to and using the alternative products the people and companies making the alternatives would not be able to continue to do so. We are paving the way and showing what can be achieved, we are making the road less travelled into a highway, easier and easier for all to journey on. With people like us and you talking about the issues and the solutions we sow the seeds in peoples’ minds, we make it possible, easy and dare I say even desirable to be part of the solution.
There is one industry that I can think of that should by rights have the same struggle and that is the anti-aging industry, and yet it doesn’t. Why? Because we are able to see what aging looks like, there are people that are ahead of our own timeline that we can use as reference, and so, (if we wish to!) we take steps to lessen the impact of age upon our skin and bodies. We trust that the products we buy will help us maintain or improve what we have, to help us avoid our ‘perceived’ vision of what we will look like when we get older and we spend billions -multiple billions- of pounds avoiding it, but the truth is we never really know if what we are using is making a difference, we don’t get to see ‘us if we don’t’ and ‘us if we do’ ‘us if we use that’ or ‘us if we use this’ so we base it on trust.
We don’t have a world that is ahead of our timeline, we all share this one world and its timeline, we can’t see what the future will look like if we do not take action, but I know from the impacts we can already see that I prefer the version of the future where I have taken action to lighten my footprint and although I may not have the sway of David Attenborough, if I can help or encourage even one other person to step a little lighter too, then that can only be a good thing, yes?
We all share this world, and not only that but we leave it behind to carry on its timeline with our children, there is no planet b. shouldn’t we look after this one for each other? Doesn’t it deserve our care? We owe it everything after all. We have great power when we act together, to demand change and quickly if we want, why don’t we apply some anti aging cream to our planet and start taking more preventative measures now? I choose to take it on trust that just like the cream I apply my actions will make a positive difference to the future….
If there were people attacking your home, threatening its very existence you would do everything in your power to defend it. The world is our home and currently we have nowhere else to go, we are the ones attacking it so why, why as soon as we are aware of this do we not snap into action doing all we can to stop the damage and make it right??
It makes no logical sense, so all I can think of is, – either we think it is too big of a problem for us individually, which we know to be untrue – “what difference can I make? – Says 7 billion people”
Or it is the fault of tomorrow. – We can sort it tomorrow, we will look at it tomorrow, it will be easier tomorrow.
The trouble with tomorrow is that it never comes… but it is also here sooner than you think.