How can us individuals alter a component our lives to make ourselves more sustainable? When posed with this question in class, I felt a nudge of discouragement. Having previously taken sustainability courses I have also taken the ecological footprint quiz before, and thus had the displeasure of seeing my enormous impact on the earth. In response to my education and passion for the environment, I have taken individual steps to decrease my personal impact; I started a compost bin for my apartment, buying only regional and local food, unpluging electronics not in use, etc. But still, my consumption amounts soared compared to global use and my individual emissions remained high. By simply living in the United States, the calculation of my normative consumption use was deemed ‘unsustainable’. What shall we do then? Sail off and make a life as a eco-friendly European, or take up a simple rural life in South East Asia? As professor Arnold said in class, “We are who we are.” Simply discarding our home and culture is insufficient in solving this global environmental crisis. Then, shall we give up hope and let business flow as usual? As many obstacles and monumental feats that lie ahead, the answer is still certainly not. I love the swimming in lakes in the summer, the crisp cool fall morning air, the way lush green mountains contrast against the vast blue sky. I love this world too much.
After talking with a friend about a concept I learned in a class about how we can either reaffirm, refuse, or reform our environment and society, we agreed that refusing the actions of our society might be a good first step, however, if we ever want to see a pronounced change in society we need to go further, we must reform. For this challenge, let me (attempt) to alter system we live in. On a local level, both in the university I study and city I live, I will try to both educate others and move our system towards one focused on environmental equity. With a global perspective in mind, this change in our system begins for me with working with local issues.