And so I offer you this. Because I couldn't have said it better than Annie Leonard.
This video framed this problem so beautifully to me. It continues the conversation Naomi Klein began back in 2000 with her bestselling book, "No Logo". It's challenging information, especially for North Americans (who exploit this process as much as any and more than many). Even if you believe in it wholly, it can be tough to represent it in your lifestyle in your own way (as you can surely see from my earlier post about consumption). Not everyone can strip down and live in the woods to reach their peace with Gaia, but we can all afford to find a few good ways to deny the consumer in us something it doesn't need. Every time you do you gain a little victory for your wallet, for yourself, for the people along that production line and for the environment.
The easiest way is to participate in the 3 R's. An interesting thing a lot of people don't know is that the three "R"s are actually put in order of their significance. Reduce is first because it's the most important thing you can do to help. The less demand for disposable products, the less production, the less people exploited in the process, period. Juice boxes and water bottles are good examples. If you can ignore the fact that you're paying for something that comes free out of your tap, you are still buying something that is packaged packaging. Individually wrapped anything (new Turtles boxes anyone?) is like giving a mushroom slap to the environment. Both painful AND degrading. You can also reduce by not adding items to your personal inventory without something going out. Like, if you have enough shirts to last a couple weeks don't buy a new one unless one of your old ones have completely worn out, or you've given it to a clothing bank. No one needs 40-50 shirts to wear, the least you can do is pass them on (I'm told women have shirt exchange parties, which I think is awesome).
The second is Reuse, and reuse for as long as you can. Keep things as long as you're comfortable, even when something shinier comes along. Anyone who knows me knows I kinda blew this with my TV (I loves me moving pictures!), but my last computer I had kept for 6 years until the motherboard fried, I've been using the same studio monitors since 2004 and most of my electronics are well loved and second hand (and I've only ever owned one iPod. Take that Steve Jobbs!). I also recently asked for a refund for a $200 software update I had purchased. After thinking about it I realized I didn't need it. The added features of the new software were cool, but the program already did everything I wanted it to do. It was shiny, but unnecessary. The software may not have had a huge environmental impact, but it did have a huge impact on my mindset and certainly my wallet.
The last step is recycle. Annie mentions that on it's own it will never be enough, but it's still very important. It's also good to know what you can and cannot recycle. I know a lot of people ease their conscience by throwing anything but food into the recycling, but you actually harm the process when you put in items that contaminate otherwise recyclable items. The worst I see are coffee cups and pizza plates. You can't recycle cardboard covered in grease and you can't recycle MOST coffee cups (although you often CAN recycle their lids and heat shields). You also can't recycle napkins that are soiled. For more info on what can and can't be recycled in the GTA, CLICK HERE.
Some don't like being told to do these things, as though they were being judged by those who bring it up, but they should remember that this kind of stuff is extremely important to me and I still fuck it up. It would be hypocritical for me to judge. All I want to do is try my best to be part of the solution (and only very occasionally part of the problem). The best way to do that is to raise awareness and start by making a change with yourself. As Ghandi said, you have to "be the change you want to see in the world". Or as the King of Pop put it, "make that change". Yeah. That's what Immo do. Listen to Michael Jackson.