“The Matrix” was an intriguing movie, and it caused a conversation in the world about reality, perception, technology, the government, AI, and humanity’s unending yearning for freedom. A lot of underground theory says the movie was not a work of fiction but a documentary to wake up humanity. What if our wake up isn’t Morpheus with a pill, but taking time to think beyond the moment?
Ok, that sounds a little trite, but hear me out. Think about what we know about today’s pollution. Not the pollution of my youth (smog, littering, electrical light waste – turn it off when you leave the room!), but “sea-turtles-choking-on-straws-islands-of-floating-garbage-throw-away-fashion-mountains-of-cheap-clothing” pollution. Our waste is literally choking out our land, seas, and creatures.
So, we recycle, and good, we should. However, are we just slowing down the growth of our trash piles? I say recycling is just a part of the solution. What else would help? How about becoming aware of what’s so?
Have you ever thought about how many toothbrushes we throw away in a year? Multiply that by several billion people – yes, even our sonic toothbrush tops count. What about nail polish bottles? We all love a mani-pedi, but how many nail polish bottles do we dispose of across the globe in a year? Shampoo bottles? Sneakers? Jeans? Toys? Couches? Old cell phones? Now, consider the longevity of plastic. Multiply that by a rapidly growing world population, and add to it the increasing longevity many of us enjoy thanks to better healthcare and more food availability.
Did you feel it? That moment when your breath stops just a little, and you feel worry? Welcome, Neo, you just swallowed the red pill. This is the actual Matrix that wasn’t built by AI, but by us, people who created a life of luxury and convenience whose continuance trumps other life forms, other people, and common sense.
We live in a world of finite resources, and with the world population rapidly expanding, and our rush for new items, those resources will decrease and eventually run out. Then what? Mars colonies? To me, looking to another planet to resolve the issues we have on this planet is not just irresponsible, it’s a plan destined to fail. Did anyone see “Wall-E” and not realize the problem wasn’t the planet but the people? Of course you did!
Did you know Victorians, the thought of whom conjures ideas of tiny corseted waists and even tighter social mores, went through the trash, pulling out bones, wrapping paper, twine, metal scraps, and more to reuse? A house servant or wife who didn’t even reuse or resell their “waste” was considered foolish and wasteful. Bones, food for broth or the Bone Man, lard, ashes, and wrapping paper were all sources of recuperating a small bit of income or a fine stew. And they MADE so many things at home from soap to clothes.
Milk used to be delivered to the home in reused, rewashed bottles. Lack of long-term storage meant more trips to the butcher, the farmer’s produce stand or their own garden. We just did more and had less.
World Wars took away house servants, leading to the development of machines to help the lady of the house with the daily household chores. It was the introduction of fast food in ether 50’s that shifted the American, and then the world’s, mindset to cheaper, faster, easier food. Same with anything mass-produced, including fashion. Eventually, we lost our farming, maintenance, cooking, and sewing skills and needed even more help getting the basics cheaply and easily.
In desert cultures of the past, fabric shreds of beautiful material was never wasted. No matter how small the fabric piece, a dress, blouse, or skirt could incorporate a swatch of beautiful fabric from the remnants of a wealthier relative or neighbor’s dress, not going to waste and enjoyed by many. Maternity dresses were your prepregnancy dresses with extra fabric panels added to the sides during pregnancy and removed, if necessary, after birth. Now, we have pants and dresses for moms-to-be to keep up with the latest fashion, which changes every year and every season. Bye-bye maternity clothes after just a few seasons. (Although hopefully handed down for rewear to others before they become too dated.)
Plus, clothing dyes are notorious polluters of rivers and streams, but even if you buy organic chonies (underpants), the cost can be prohibitive -$27 for a pair of underwear when Hanes is $12.99 for a pack. Can we afford to care? Can we afford not to?
What are we going to do? Well, some grocery stores enforce reusable shopping bags, and bring your own bag or bottle is getting coverage in some store designs. Some creative environmentally minded architects are building homes out of used glass bottles, old tires, soda cans, and sand. But, it’s slow and considered avant-garde.
Sewing enthusiasts are getting into transforming thrift store finds (good fabric, outdated style) into modern looks, but how many people are skilled enough to sew? And, have you bought your metal straw to take with you, yet? It can feel overwhelming trying to work, connect, exercise, socialize, keep educated, and help to minimize our environmental impact. What else could help?
Conversations like this can help increase awareness, but to have them we must stop shaming those who care about the planet. Granolas, tree huggers, hippies – why does caring about keeping the world viable and healthy for humans and all life warrant derision? Thanks, media, your portrayals of people who care about these issues divide them into two types of people: airy-headed unintelligent doofuses or hateful angry protesting narrow-minded people who will drive up the cost of living in their quest to save the planet.
Cities have detached us from nature (here’s looking at you, Manhattan), and I feel this has lead to our lack of knowing about, or even caring about, our impact on the Earth. We can’t get rid of cities, but we CAN utilize the space more efficiently, can’t we? And, is that the solution, connecting to nature and decreasing our development of natural land? Again, it’s part of the solution, but that’s an action to take. I think it starts in outer thoughts and conversations. People only take action on things that really matter to them.
What if we valued a sense of responsibility and care for our environment? What if we saw such persons who care not as “Hippies” or “Crunchy Granolas” but as just people? We are Earthlings…what’s so ridiculous about trying to live in harmony with our world? Or at least keeping it a livable, viable habitat for humans, animals, and plants? I know, many people were bored in science class, but a ton of you LOVE that “Circle of Life” song from Disney. That song is a nice way of saying the same thing as biodiversity – we need the Earth and the life in it, and it needs us.
We are not aliens – this is our home, and despite the exciting reports of a super Earth, or Mars colonies, this is literally the only planet perfectly designed for us to live on. Can we not wake up and figure out how to decrease our need for more? Can we love the Earth without making someone wrong for saying so? I think we can, but it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Let’s get our house in order and make the settling of Mars as a project not of escapism but of the other great human desire, to explore.