I am a baby boomer. I have known about the climate crisis for years yet I am also a part of the deafness about climate change. I knew about it 50 years ago, 40 years ago, during the drought in the 70’s when we got new faucet heads for the showers and flushed only when necessary. I first hauled my recyclables to Kezar Stadium in SF (yes, that is how long ago it was) after sorting them out into three different boxes. We rinsed them, cleaned the trash, removed the labels, and held onto it for weeks until the special monthly day arrived to haul it all to the stadium and turn it in. I knew not to use paper diapers when they first appeared (considerations about having to dump them out just like regular diapers, the dangers of the infused perfumes causing cancer for girls, the need to peel them into parts, paper and plastic to be handled separately, and the cost.) I held on to the cloth as long as I could. Then came convenience. Childcare would not use cloth. Bam. I got hooked. And I, too, became part of the bio-hazard bomb group of parents, using the sticky tabs to enfold the contents nice and tight for later disposal. No more dumping, striping, and recycling. I was becoming addicted, too, to convenience.
And that is when I got off the tree hugger train. Sure, I tipped my hat to the obvious types of environmental support. The occasional donations, the now convenient recycling into two boxes and eventually single tub of stuff that was not obviously trash and household waste. Not particularly skilled, but, you know, I was trying. Rather than going to the food coop (it had to close) for refills of my shampoo and soaps, my grains and honey, sugar and cereals I found a new choice. The high prices “health food stores” and the regular old grocery with disposable containers. My pocketbook led me to the store and that is now my habit. I buy toothbrushes and razor in blister packs that are not only hard to pe but cant’ be separated into paper/plastic NOR is the plastic itself recyclable. Toys- blister packs, batteries (which I shouldn’t even buy or use) blister packs, and so on. Convenience equals non-recyclable overuse of our planet’s resources. Economy equals overuse. I won’t even start on clothing. It is all fashion, purchased for a season or just for an event, then “don’t worry I donate it”. Yea. Well- we have too much of that disposable waste as well. Much of what we donate goes into landfill. We don’t clean it, fix it, shine it, be certain it is working. We give it as trash in a big black bag – so how could it be received?
I take planes, I take cruises, I drive when I could walk. I am part of the problem.
The reason I say I am complicit in the crimes against our environment is that I am old enough to know better. I am peers of (not economic, social or professional) but of the ilk of those in power now. The heads of corporations, the developers of our packaging and products, the design of our cars, and homes, and appliances. Why didn’t WE wake up before the crisis? We could have put the longevity of our planet before our profits. But I walked side by side with them. I did nothing. Sometimes I adjusted my purchasing habits. I did the occasional boycott. I shook my fist into the air and then I bought another convenient travel-sized container of toxic antiperspirant to put in my carry on for my next trip.
But I didn’t raise my voice the way Greta Thunberg (https://tinyurl.com/yxun8ver) has. I know the under nine-year timeline for irreversible damage wasn’t then looming, but why do we have to wait for an emergency to speak up, to speak out. In my silence, I have remained complicit. And, yes, shame on me for remaining silent. And shame on me for not raising the issue to those who were rising up through the ranks to positions of power. I let them get off scot-free with my dollars in their pockets based on my convenience; the bite-sized, trial-sized, packaged for home use, easily disposable and financially more affordable to replace rather than repair.
So now we have to act. I will boycott, I will adapt and change my buying habits, my conviction to repair rather than replace, letting go of WANTS and living with my NEEDS. No, I am not going to become a hermit. I am not going to live off the land, but can I bring my own cup to a meeting? Can I walk more often than not? Can I delay a purchase until I have many and THEN go to the store? Can I write letters of support to companies who are doing good? Can I write and call and make a nuisance of myself to companies and politicians who don’t? Can I start making up for lost time? This is an emergency and I won’t be complicit anymore.