It is said that you can fix anything if you throw
enough money at it. Unfortunately that is exactly
the attitude that has created the collection of environmental
problems the planet now faces. Problems like pollution
do not arise from a chemical plant belching fumes
into the air or an oil tanker that runs aground and
pollutes miles of coastline
Pollution is a direct result
of consumer demand. This means YOU! It means,
all of us! We, directly cause the demand for new factories
and chemical plants to be built, the insatiable demand
that requires the shipment of fossil fuels trans-globally
so that we can drive instead of walk to work.
These situations are created
by our *desire* to be sophisticated human beings
who play with complicated technological toys and enjoy
a high standard of living. We want choice and we want
the best (that we can afford).
In any natural environment an open niche will eventually
be occupied. The same is true of commerce. Wherever
there is an opportunity to create wealth, a way will
be found to exploit it.
The solution to this situation
is to take greater care of, and responsibility for,
It is easy to point to a midnight dumper tipping toxic
waste into stormwater drain and cry "criminal!". It
is less easy to accept that our collective choices
create scenarios (the karma) whereby such things occur. There is after all *NO*
safe way to store or dump toxic waste, legal
In some cases it may be possible to neutralize toxic
waste, but the cost of that process must eventually
be passed on to the consumer. In a world of choice,
where cheaper items are available from regions with
less stringent environmental policies … I think you
catch my drift.
This is a game that has been successfully played by
numerous large corporations throughout the twentieth
century. They move their manufacturing base from country
to country, to wherever the legal and/or environmental
requirements and labor costs are minimal. And they
do this all for us, so that we can have "the best"
There is no turning back the clock on this one. The
protest that stops a factory being built in one place,
will simply see it relocated elsewhere. The answer
is to accept that there is a price to pay for our
chosen lifestyles that runs far deeper than the debt
on our credit cards.
The greatest power that we can exert to change this
democratic, wealth driven system, is by the two fundamental
things it depends on, ie: purchase power and politics.
We vote most loudly with the almighty "buck". In so
saying, there is one thing we will all have to accept.
In the future, the lifestyle we are currently accustomed
to, will cost more! Unless of course, turning the
planet into a near sterile wasteland doesn't bother
to do … some hints:
Pay more attention to what you purchase,
ie: How and where was it made? Don't
assume that because a
product is on the shelf (passed by
appropriate national legislating body) that
the product (or the manufacturing process used
to make it) is in fact environmentally
When you purchase items with an longer expected useable
life (white goods etc.), select items that offer
a longer warranty period. If a manufacturer
is prepared to back his product for ten years
instead of five, this kind of thinking may enable
you to halve your junk output over the same
efficient products may incur a higher
purchase price, but there is a whole planet's
worth of creatures great and small that would
thank you if they could.
To make good choices you require a clear
and focussed mind. If you don't already
meditate, perhaps you should give it a try.
With a global population running to 6 billion (and
growing), it is easy to think that the contribution
of one individual is insignificant. Should such
a thought cross your mind, consider this. If you
are reading this, it is quite likely that you already
consume and throw away between 10 and 50 times as
much as your counterpart in the third world. Not
only that, but you can also expect to live for twice
The bottom line … be mindful
… When you shop, pay attention !!!
PS: New Yorkers have the distinction of
hosting one of the largest man-made structures
(by volume) ever built … the New York City
Having the largest pile of rubbish ever known
to exist in one place isn't even the real
problem (one day its sure to make an excellent
island). The real problem are the tons of
toxic substances that leach out of this mega-refuse
pile into the environment, year after year.
This is not a "dig" at New Yorkers
(every large population has it's tip), just
a reminder that not all of our greatest achievements
are as noble as we would wish ;-)