The audience’s taken-aback expressions and prepared rebuttal at this awkward title soon morph into a long-winded confession about their “environmental sins.” Their minds fill with memories of times they dropped their offending plastic items on the side of the road or in the black bin when they thought no one was looking. Each reader’s horror-filled eyes peruse this article as I predict each of their movements as they realize that they were not as environmentally-conscious as they led themselves believe.
However, I am here to reassure the large body of dejected, guilty readers that it is not their fault. It is the fault of large corporations.
These large companies paint narratives of ordinary people burning the world with their “treachorous” carbon footprints and day to day excursions, shifting blame to the common person unable to afford the luxuries of sustainable items. At the end of the day, companies adopted the environmental cause to market their new line of products branded with the long list of “sustainable, vegan, gluten-free, etc.” qualities.
As a result of the cause being pushed onto the average do-gooder, each “sustainable” item or scientific article they read on global warming and climate change pushes them closer to a god complex with the thought that they’re singlehandedly changing the world. One vegan-leather handbag at a time.
Once again, these practitioners of environment-friendly living only do so to gain a headstart on their poorer opponents in a game of moral checkers.
The pandemic revealed that the only path to actual change is more action than conversation. Over a year of complete solitude in which many couldn’t go out, use their vehicles, and factory production slowed was the period that resulted in the greatest repair of the ozone layer the world has seen in years. Ultimately, forcing people to pause their self-centered lives was the most efficient method for achieving the change they advocated for in their instagram captions. Working towards improvement requires looking at the grand scheme of environmental issues such as the country’s support of big oil or the international adoption of mass production, producing unheard amounts of greenhouse gases.
A push for acknowledgement and awareness is no longer enough. Knowledge and research is no longer an accomplishment, but a requirement, and those who are ignorant will simply be left behind. Accordingly, scientists’ efforts are wasted on educating those still paranoid and disillusioned from Y2K to accept the reality that America is not as exceptional as it may seem. Though making decisions with the environment in mind proves virtuous, looking down on others unable to make the investments in sustainable clothing and beauty products in contempt only takes away from the cause.
There is no benefit in pointing fingers just as there is no benefit in making justifications such as “at least I recycle” or “I post about Earth day on my page.” Instead, we should focus on making long-lasting changes such as local emission goals and nuclear power legislation.
If you take nothing else away, I implore you to remember that no reusable sponge will save the world, but a call to action to the company that made it just might.