I previously posted this on Instagram but since life is busy (as it is for all of us) and I’ve been neglecting this outlet, I figured I’d upload it here instead.
Following a conversation I had over the weekend after attending a vegan food fest, I wanted to share a few quick thoughts.
For many, being environmentally friendly and conscious begins and ends with one singular and superficial train of thought. “I’m vegan for the environment.” “I always recycle.” “I’m boycotting palm oil.” “I don’t eat honey for the bees.”
Maybe those thoughts help people sleep better at night, but they won’t necessarily yield any long term benefits for the environment. A complete boycott on palm oil just means that small businesses that do source sustainably (and care about the environment) will be bought out by large corporations that will take over and cultivate that same land, or land elsewhere, for a similar form of vegetable oil. Not eating honey because you care about the bees seems counterproductive if you’re boycotting small time beekeepers who are doing everything to maintain healthy/stable populations and selling honey helps them stay in business. Meanwhile it’s rare to hear such opposition to products made with sugar harvested by slave labor in the countries we travel to so we can exploit them for Instagram likes and feel cultured. (Do I sound frustrated?) Being vegan is great for the environment except when you’re traveling and doing nothing to offset that carbon footprint. Recycling doesn’t really mean much if you’re not aware of where it goes once you throw it away and how it’s being managed (if at all.) (A good friend who has a decade+ of experience dealing with waste and recycling has an account on Instagram. You can find him here: https://www.instagram.com/jon_plastic_francis/)
Reducing consumption is important but supporting businesses working to find viable solutions is too, even if those solutions don’t fall in line with your beliefs. Most people will never go vegan, or subscribe to a minimalist lifestyle, or be willing to change their lifestyle completely, but they might be willing to try alternatives.
I don’t know that I really have a point to this rant. We’re all guilty of being hypocrites and I know most of us are doing the best we can given our circumstances. Nobody is perfect. I know I’m certainly not. The notion that small changes in a positive direction can be beneficial is not lost on me, but not when those changes are rooted in misinformation. As my recycling aficionado Jon Francis said to me, “It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.” We all need to do better. I just hope that moving forward people who have a genuine interest in helping this planet and those that inhabit it with us take the time to research, ask questions, and continue learning – not blindly follow.
It’s that or go to sleep knowing at this rate we’ll all likely die sooner rather than later anyway so what’s the point, right?
Photo via BBC.