It has been easier to use my digital soapbox to tell you about how necessary it is, to adopt the Tao of environmentalism is, but in reality; it has been much more difficult for me, to heed my own advice, then I have led you to believe in many of my past posts.It was with this realization, that I became hesitant to blog; my nascent environmentalism was struck and incapacitated by a serious blow. This epiphany, happened shortly after I moved back home with my parents in September of 2011. It was in the process of cajoling my parents into using the, ‘recycle’ bin [my parents term for composting] that my father, brought up a valid point that I couldn’t refute at the time.
My father stands at a commanding 6’5″ and while often serious, which I suppose is a reflection of his height, this attitude is often muted by his more congenial nature. A career salesman, I find that even in retirement he is still applying the tricks of his trade except that instead of selling things, he is now in the business of selling ideas. “Stafford, what does it really matter?” he chided, shooting me a sideways disapproving glance in the family van, with his hands firmly planted on the steering wheel. “I mean, I am just one guy and I do my part, which is better than it used to be, because back when I was your age, everything just went into one can.” My father had a solid point, and noticing that he had my full attention he continued his sales pitch, “but, to believe that I really make that big of an impact, well that is just a little hard to believe. Especially when you compare the waste we create at home, to the massive impact that big corporations are having on the planet up in places like the Oil Sands”. “Well…” I began to counter, “Dad, the situation, isn’t that black and white, I mean….” He cut me off, interjecting before I could finish my point. “Butch [my childhood nickname] It isn’t even close, if you want real change you should go after big business and leave the little guys alone!” Wow, I was stunned. Solid logic, that I couldn’t refute.
So sadly, it was when I was faced with this tough question that I balked. I couldn’t answer. Shortly thereafter I just shutdown. I turned my back on my old eco-ways and became callous. I started heaping everything into the garbage bin, plastics and organics, what did it matter I thought, ‘It’s not like I am on the board of directors for Suncor or Exxon Mobil. Those guys are the real bad guys’. To make my situation more pronounced, was the fact that I now lived in a car dependent outer suburb of Vancouver.
I couldn’t help but think, that the environmentalist label that I keenly crafted for myself back at the University of Victoria, was really just a result of personal privilege. Living in Victoria is akin to living in the epicenter for die in the wool environmentalists in this province, whom are able to tread lightly on a daily basis mostly because everything is so spatially compact making: transiting, peddling and or walking to work viable alternative to a single occupancy vehicle travel. In Langley, where everything is so spread out, this isn’t a possibility.
This train of negative thinking persisted for longer than I would like to admit, I gradually began composting and recycling again, but It wasn’t until the end of last semester that a class assignment, requiring me to calculate my online ecological footprint, triggered a desire to change for the better… but you will just have to wait to see what happened next. [To be continued in Ecological Footprint PART 2]