Monday, November 30, 2009

The Ex-Consumer

I used to love eating a McDonald's value meal, Taco Bell, Chick-Fil-A, Bojangles, and all the other fast food restaurants out there. I was the common Western consumer. Fast food, food courts, chain restaurants, shopping sprees, always owning and wanting the newest gadgets, aspiring to own a nice fancy car, a big house and all the fancy clothes, shoes and accessories my wallet could afford, I wanted it all.

And here I am, ten years later, and I don't recognize that person anymore. My priorities and life aspirations have completely changed and I owe it to nothing other than education. Meeting wonderful people who removed the blindfold and opened my eyes to the pitfalls of the life of an unsustainable consumer. A blindfold that we unwillingly put on and that is kept on by habit, ignorance, advertisement and capitalism. We follow the routine laid out for us and assume it is the lifestyle we "want" forgetting that what we are told we want, may not actually be what we want OR need.

Don't get me wrong, I still want a nice (green) house and a nice (hybrid) car. I own an iPhone, I still love a nice steak and I am still occasionally overcome with an urge to go on a shopping spree, I've just become much more conscious of the effects my actions have on our world. The effects my actions have on everything and everyone around me. And with my blindfold removed, I feel an urgency to rip other people's blindfolds off, to open their eyes to the unsustainable lifestyle many of us live and aspire to live.

A few months ago I made a life-changing journey by joining Climate Ride and riding my bicycle 300-miles from New York to Washington, DC with ~120 other riders. Before February of 2009, I hadn't been on a bicycle for almost 15 years, yet something inspired me to join these amazing people on this amazing journey in the name of climate change action.

I don't know how much change I can make as a single person, but Roz Savage (who rowed the Atlantic solo, is working on the Pacific and is currently walking from Big Ben to Brussels to attend the Cop-15 meeting) thought me that 1 drop of water causes ripples that effect the entire puddle of water, so here goes my drop. I think climate change action is necessary and important, but I'm realizing that what matters most to me is educating people about the unsustainable lifestyle humans are leading and the need to change to a sustainable lifestyle. Not just to stop climate change, but to protect our fellow human beings, to save our species, to save our world and most importantly to resurrect our morals and ideals.

Stop and think about how much you consume and what part of that you can do without, take time to figure out where it all comes from, consider for a second how much you waste, think about how you are contributing to your own health problems, your own financial crisis.
Think about how we are single-handedly destroying our planet and how we can't keep going just because "that's what we've always done." What've we always done, isn't working and it won't work no matter how many fancy words, fun ads, beautiful colors and shiny packaging we put on it.