So I have made it through 2 weeks of preseason volleyball and about 2 weeks of classes. I have run lots of timed miles (I got down to a 7:45 today!!!), eaten lots of cafeteria food (including some visits to the softserve machine), and read hundreds of pages already. But I still found time to look at “The Reader”, which I got at Books on the Common before I left.
I decided to read the article “The End of Nature: The Greenhouse Experiment”, which was published in The New Yorker onSeptember 11, 1989. This (rather long) passage caught my attention:
“And so who was walking with me in the woods? Well, there were the presidents of the Midwestern utilities, who kept explaining why they had to burn coal to make electricity (cheaper, fiduciary responsibility, no proof it kills trees), and then there were the congressmen, who couldn’t bring themselves to do anything about it (personally favor, but politics the art of compromise, very busy with the war on drugs), and before long the whole human race had arrived to explain it’s aspirations. We like to drive, it said, air-conditioning is a necessity nowadays, let’s go to the mall. Of course, the person I was fleeing most fearfully from was myself, for I drive, and I’m burning a collapsed barn behind my house next week because it is much the cheapest way to deal with it, and I live on about four hundred times the money Thoreau conclusively proved was enough, so I’ve done my share to take this independent, eternal world and turn it into a science-fair project.” He concludes with this thought: “We have built a greenhouse- a human creation- where once there bloomed a sweet and wild garden.”
As I begin my journey to a probable Environmental Studies major, I am already feeling overwhelmed and conflicted. There are so many things wrong, and so few people doing anything about them. And then there’s MY life- I’m conflicted about what clubs to join, what classes to take next term, who to be friends with, and on top of all THAT I have to make daily decisions about sustainability. Yeah, I got 100% recycled notebooks with cute trees on the cover for my classes this term, but I bought them at Walmart. Am I going to try to get a ride across town to go to the, like, ONE store that has organic food, or am I going to eat the nasty pesticide filled apples in the caf? I want to live a totally green life, but it’s hard when I don’t really get to make my own food or energy decisions. But hey, at least it’s not just me. At least I’m not alone- Bill McKibben is in the same predicament! I think we all get so bogged down by the enormity of what needs to be done that we forget that even if we all make one small change in our lives, we can begin the change. Print double-sided, walk across campus instead of driving (people do it!), recycle that freaking water bottle (or better yet, invest in a reusable one, preferably without BPAs)! If you haven’t already, start your environmental education today!