Why this Greenie stuff?

So why is this important? What does environmental sustainability mean? Why do we humans need to care what’s happening to our surrounds? The shelves at the supermarket are always full and as long as I put my rubbish in the bin and don’t litter it around the place then I’m a good human, am I not? I try to run my errands in one go so I don’t drive my car too much so I save on fuel costs. I sometimes take a long hot shower but I turn the tap off whilst brushing my teeth to keep my water bill down. So if we all did these things, we should be right, shouldn’t we? The water tap, let’s face it, has never run dry, the power always comes on when we flick the switch, the servo has enough fuel for everyone and as long as the shops still stock my favourite cereal and milk then I could survive for weeks. (I’ve actually survived on cereal and milk for quite some time when I first lived in my own flat. It works for a while!)

So really, there is nothing to worry about! Move on.

Well, I believe we humans, and especially us western culture people, need to take a serious look at how our current lifestyle is fairing and ask ourselves if we can go on like this forever. I’m an 80s baby and growing up in a liberal Germany our schools taught us a lot on topics like “rainforest deforestation for timber and for making room for soy crops or cattle grazing”, “air pollution in major cities due to traffic and industrial plants”, “river pollution due to agriculture and industries”, “land erosion due to deforestation”, “antibiotic resistance due to overuse of antibiotics in meat production”, “melting of glaciers and artic ice due to global warming”, “droughts and starvation in parts of Africa”, “greenhouse gas effect due to emissions of carbon dioxide and methane” et cetera et cetera – the list just went on! I remember in one of the classes at school, geography with a teacher (who shall remain unnamed) who looked like he couldn’t be stuffed that day (I suppose we all have those days) put on a film on deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. It all made sense as to why the farmers and people in the area were doing it (to support their families which is fair enough) but the figures were just crazy! I don’t remember just how many soccer field sized (yes Germans measure a lot in soccer fields) bits of rainforest were being chopped or burnt down every day/hour/minute but that geography class was a fair few years ago now and I’m actually surprised there’s any rainforest left.

Back then it really sunk in that we humans are a major player on this planet and can’t just take take take and deplete the earth’s resources. We all have legit reasons – need to feed the family, need to make some money to buy a house to give my kids a good upbringing, need to drive the car to get to work, need to take hot showers to be presentable for work, need to wash my clothes to be accepted in public, need to fly across the world to see my dying relative, need to watch telly for relaxation, need to fly to Bali to recharge my batteries, need to buy cleaning stuff to keep the house clean, need to drive across the country for a seminar, need to do this need to buy that. The list goes on. I myself have done about everything I just listed (except for buying a house for my kids – I don’t have any kids, only chickens. Just mentally amend it to “need to drive to scrap yard to collect materials to build chicken coop”).

We all live and we all need things to satisfy basic human needs (air, water, food, shelter, social contacts) and we need a whole lot to satisfy the needs of our rather complex society.

Wouldn’t it be nice though to do it in a way that lets us live on this earth forever? (Well, not us personally, we would be pretty wrinkly then, but us as in the homo sapiens species. Us and our grandies and their grandies and their grandies and their grandies and their grandies and their grandies and their grandies and their grandies and their grandies and their grandies and their grandies… A long time. You get the picture).

Wouldn’t it be nice for our great-great-great-great-…-grandchild to be able to go to a pacific island and explore amazing reefs and go snorkelling instead of having the islands swallowed up by a rising ocean? Don’t get me wrong, I live 500m above sea level, this doesn’t really affect me personally, but my diving certificate only allows me to go as deep as 18m so rising sea levels might put a few stunning dive sites just out of my reach. Just kidding, the consequences of rising sea levels are a bit more significant than a reduced selection of holiday spots for this Greenie here.

Wouldn’t it be nice though for our great-great-great-grandies to live in a major metropolis with all their amazing technology (just imagine the cool stuff they’re going to have in 100 years!) without dying early of lung cancer due to heavy smog and air pollution?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be cool with getting crook every now and again but having a good immune system that’s always a step ahead of bacteria, instead of being wiped out by some freak multi resistant one-celled organism? I mean, seriously! We survived sooo much stuff! Mammoths! Sabre tooth tigers! Then to be wiped out by a frickin thing without a brain? Maybe we’re not so clever after all.

This is why I believe this matters. Don’t get me wrong – we don’t all suddenly need to turn into greenies – the world wouldn’t work if everyone did exactly what I do. My passion is the health of the environment and I’m good at hatching chickens, mixing compost and rambling on on this blog. My neighbour is a fantastic plant operator and makes sure the roads are built to a good and safe standard, and that’s important. My husband is a Fruit & Veg manager at a supermarket and is really good at keeping the shop running smoothly and filling the fresh produce fridge with gorgeous healthy food, and that’s important. My dear friend is a fantastic mum and is raising three lovely humans that are going to make us proud to be homo sapiens, and that’s important. Another friend is a great web designer who helps people like me find an outlet for their passionate ramblings on the internet, and that’s important. Please don’t drop everything you do and suddenly frantically start planting trees and fishing plastic out of the ocean (though go for it if you like!) – the world works best if we all do what we’re good at and what we enjoy doing. I think we just need to use our amazing human brain and adapt the ways we do these things so that we’re in better balance with nature.

How do we achieve this? I don’t yet have all the answers but that’s what this journey is all about. Stick with me and let’s find out.


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