Ecojustice08’s Weblog


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Welcome to Emily’s Ecojustice 2008 challenge. Those of you who are book bloggers are familiar with the concept of a challenge. Typically, you are asked to read a certain number of books from some sort of category and to write blog posts on those books. This challenge will be somewhat different in that it will be asking you to choose from among a number of environmentally-friendly actions and to post on your experiences implementing them.

Mandarine once posed the question to all of us, “What if seven billion people did what I’m about to do?” This challenge has grown from that question. My immediate answer to it was, “Well, I’m not one of the seven billion people going out there and buying a Ford Excessive just because the company has told me it’s the cool vehicle I must have,” and “I’m not one of the seven billion people who drinks expensive water from plastic bottles when I’ve got perfectly good tap water to drink,” and “I’m certainly not one of the seven billion people jumping all over the chance to own a McMansion.” All right, so there are those of us who pat ourselves on the back, because we gave up the notion of “keeping up with the Joneses” or flaunting our wealth, oh, around the same time we graduated from high school, most especially if doing so is contributing to the degradation of our planet and all who live here.

However, the question is far too clever to keep us patting ourselves on the back for long if we think about these examples instead: what if seven billion people got all their food from factory farms? What if seven billion people drove their cars to and from work 20+ miles every day? What if seven billion people threw out all their junk mail without recycling it?

I was beginning to get depressed. Then I began to think in a different way: what if seven billion people all decided they weren’t going to buy a car that didn’t get at least 40 mpg? What if seven billion people decided they weren’t going to buy anything other than energy efficient light bulbs? What if seven billion people decided that rather than eating half a pound of meat a day, they were only going to eat half a pound of meat per week? What if seven billion people decided they weren’t going to buy anything that didn’t come in a recyclable container? Businesses might begin squirming…and then scrambling. After all, it’s merely a matter of supply and demand. If we live based on the premise that we don’t want companies dictating to us what we can and can’t buy, and if we start demanding what we want instead of letting corporations create demand for us via advertising, we might be better able to save this planet.

Thus, this challenge began brewing in my mind. Maybe through this wonderful resource the internet, an international group of us could band together to challenge ourselves to live our lives just a little bit differently. Maybe some of us would be willing to make some choices that might not be the most convenient or the most comfortable but that wouldn’t be completely inconvenient or uncomfortable, because we care more about saving the planet than we do about our own conveniences and comfort. Maybe each of us would tell at least five friends about the challenge, who would then pass it onto others. Eventually, maybe, we could begin to change things for the better. Maybe future generations, then, won’t have to clean up such a big mess.

Before I get started on the actual challenge, I want to explain why this is an ecojustice challenge and not an environmental one. The term “ecojustice” encompasses justice for all of creation (plant, other animal, and human alike). It does not assume any one species (i.e. human) is better than any other species. It assumes that within the human race, those who are most negatively affected by the rape of the earth are the poor (e.g. N.I.M.B.Y. campaigns are very successful in middle and upper-middle class neighborhoods, not so much in poor, inner-city neighborhoods) and that by making this planet a safer and better place to live, all will benefit. It assumes that every living being on this planet deserves its rightful, ecological place (whether certain species want others here or not). It also assumes that we humans are the ones doing the most damage with the most means to stop what we are doing.

So, here is how this challenge will work. The first step is for anyone who wants to participate to pass the link onto at least five other people (or even if you don’t plan to participate, if you like the idea, please pass it on). If you have a blog of your own, this can easily be accomplished merely by linking to this site in a post on your own blog. Below is a list of things you can choose to do. Once every quarter between now and April 21, 2009, I will add to this list. Your challenge is to choose something from this list, to experiment with it, and to post about it here. Or, if you’d rather not post, that’s fine. You can just choose what you want and leave comments on this blog. You can choose to implement as many or as few from the list as you would like. You can choose to stick with one (or more) for an entire quarter, or you can mix and match (one — or more — this month, a different one next month, etc.). My hope is that by the end of the year, at least one item from the whole list will have become a way of life for you and your family. And if you’re already doing some or all of these things, come up with others you want to do, share them with us, and post on them instead.

To join the blog as a posting member, please send an email to: ecojustice08 AT gmail DOT com with your user name and the email address you’d like to use for the purposes of this blog. I will add you to the list of users. Also, please post on your own blog, if you have one. That’s it. And now, here are your choices for this quarter:

1. Choose one day a week in which you will not use your car at all (barring a major emergency, like having to drive your spouse/child to the hospital for stitches). Before you immediately dismiss this one, because you have to drive to and from work every day, please think about it. Is there no one with whom you could carpool two days a week? If so, the day you’re not driving would be the perfect day not to use your car at all.

2. Choose one “black out night” per week. All lights and all electrical appliances are off by 7:30 p.m. and don’t go on again until the next morning. What will you do without lights, television, your computer? Well, the weather’s getting nice where many of us live. Sit out on the porch/deck and tell stories. Read by candle light. Write letters by candle light. Play games by candle light. You know, people did this sort of thing for thousands of years. My guess is that if you have kids, this will be an exciting and fun challenge for them.

3. Choose two days a week in which you are only going to eat organic and/or locally-grown food. Do you know that inorganic farming is one of the best examples of evolution that we’ve got going these days? All the pesticides that have been used to grow our food have helped to create “super bugs” who are becoming more and more resistant to our chemicals. We’re definitely losing this battle in more ways than one. Talk to the people at your local farmer’s markets. Many of them are growing their food organically anyway; they just aren’t certified, because it’s a difficult and expensive process to be so. Buying locally, of course, cuts down on the oil used to transport food long distances.

4. If you need to go anywhere that’s within a 2-mile round trip radius of your home, walk or bike. Where might this be? The first place that springs to mind for me is your children’s school bus stop. Perhaps the post office is close to your home. The library? For me, it’s both the post office and the bank. If you’re super lucky, maybe you have a farmer’s market that’s close by. Or maybe you don’t live close enough to anything, but you do work close by to that deli, say, where you always drive to pick up lunch.

5. Read that challenging book about the environment that you’ve been putting off reading, you know the one you don’t want to read, because it might make you a little uncomfortable (e.g. The World without Us, Diet for a Small Planet, Affluenza). Read it. Post about it. Maybe implement an idea or two based on what you’ve read.

6. Buy only those things sold in recyclable packaging and make sure you recycle that packaging.

I’ve made my choices for this first quarter, and they are: 2, 3, and (those who know me, know I’d have to choose this one) 5 (which book? Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal by Margaret Visser) Stay tuned for my future posts, and I hope to hear from you soon. (Oh, and suggestions for future items to add to the list are very welcome.)

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