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August 19, 2019

Why we haven’t yet Earned the Right to call Earth “Ours.”

 

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This morning, the Starbucks barista noticed the writing on my reusable cup.

It read, “Saving the turtles,” and included the most adorable little turtle that my boyfriend drew.

She said, “I love this so much! Go you!”

Naturally, we started talking about the environment and the uprising of reusable straws. I’m sure that all of you have seen at least one Instagram ad; I know I’ve seen my fair share.

So, I felt compelled by the interaction this morning to share this:

We are guests on this earth.

We are not made of her soil or leaves. We are not her water or oxygen. We are guests and we will forever continue to be guests.

The climate change argument has been noisier than ever. I see conflict, on all forms of social media. I’ve seen plenty of Twitter arguments and threads.

We can continue arguing all we want but here’s the deal: we’re disgusting creatures who are financially hungry and always looking to get on top. We will disregard anything that stands in our path to fulfill our greedy desires.

For years and years, we’ve been ignoring the impact of our actions on our planet—and for that reason, I don’t feel that we’ve ever earned the right to call it ours.

Yet, we walk mighty, as if we own it—as if it is something to be owned. We’ve cultivated it and slapped our names on titles. We sign papers and pay for the right to build on or, own a fraction of our terrific little space rock. We proceed to produce products that can’t be disposed of in a healthy way. We manufacture plastics, glass, paper, and cardboard without caution. We create and dispose of it…into the soils of the earth.

So, why wouldn’t we have developed biodegradable materials in the first place? Instead, we created it, realized it’s harmful, built recycling plants, and now have to filter trash through countless bins and plants. Why didn’t we just cut the bullsh*t in the beginning? Why weren’t we compassionate enough to design materials that were safe for the earth?

Not impressed?

Okay, let’s hit you with some facts.

Eighteen billion pounds of trash is ending up in our oceans. Out of seven billion people, 75 percent of them admitted to littering in the last five years. So, 5.2 billion of us have spit our gum out the window, thrown a fast food cup or bag out the window, let some napkins blow away on a picnic, and left our water bottles among the trees while hiking.

Nature doesn’t have the ability or resources to dispose of our waste in a healthy way. Plus, the way I see it, we produce the products as well as consume them so, therefore it’s our responsibility to take care of it.

Alright, still not impressed? More facts for you.

A person will only hold a piece of trash for 16 paces before they decide to litter. Are we really so careless? Would it really take that much more energy to walk it to a trash can? The impact of this will affect the planet eternally—your children, and their children, and their children’s children, and long after them as well. We have to break the cycle.

Although our littering rate has now declined by 61 percent, the trash is still out there. Whether it’s polluting waterways, hiking trails, beaches, or highways, it’s still out there.

We are causing irreversible damage. I repeat: irreversible.

We will never be able to undo all the destruction. We will reach a point where we have to live among it. We will have permanently smoggy skies and will begin building homes near or, even on, landfills. We will kill every single enchanting and innocent creature that was supposed to accompany us on our journey through existence.

I will admit, I didn’t fully comprehend the gravity of the situation until very recently. I didn’t think too much when I threw away a plastic straw, glass container, tossed out old paperwork, or when I got rid of plastic grocery bags. I never gave it an ounce of my attention.

Now, I realize that it needs all of my attention. Now, I’m extremely aware of what goes in the garbage can, and that if it must go, it even makes it into the garbage can. I feel uneasy throwing anything away because I worry where it might end up. I’m making the switch to fabric grocery bags and use reusable cups anywhere that I can. I may be making immediate, drastic changes but, I feel that I can and need to make up for my past and what others aren’t yet doing.

The reason my boyfriend drew the turtle on my Starbucks cup is because I stumbled across a video that vividly depicts the pollution we’re causing for our little oceanic friends. It tore my heart to shreds. My boyfriend held me as I sobbed for the animals who suffer from our blatant ignorance.

I advise you to watch just one video of the harm we’ve done to our planet and its creatures. Just one. It changed my thinking and it changed how I live my life.

I’m not saying we should all go break our hearts on the ugliness of the world but I am saying get informed. Use the compassion in your bones and get involved. There are hundreds of movements and organizations out there, so pick one and get started. To do anything of great measure, we have to push back against the careless and ignorant. We have to weigh heavier on our side of the scale.

Please, for the sake of the earth and its creatures, get involved.

Even if it’s once. And if you can’t offer up the time, then make someone else aware—try to help them understand what we can do. Save our little space rock. Save our turtles and their sea buddies.

I’ve done some research for those of you who are interested in getting involved. Here are a few organizations:

4Ocean Cleanup: 4Ocean Cleanup sells adorable, completely recycled and handmade bracelets that support their cleanup. For every bracelet purchased, they promise a pound of trash will be removed from the sea and the coastlines!

Trash Free Earth: The Trash Free Earth community encourages you to comprehend the extreme value of your participation. They believe in your ability to create monumental change and they’d like your support in the cleanup.

Keep It Wild: Originally, I found Keep It Wild on social media because of their amazing T-shirt designs. I don’t own any yet, but they’re on my want list. You know when you follow someone awesome and begin to stalk them all the way back to, like, 2013? Yeah, I stalked—and I love what they’re about. They do cleanups all over the United States and they’ve garnered a wonderful community who all share a passion for regaining sustainability.

Coastal Living: Everything from Method soap bottles to chic surfing bracelets, to yoga mats. They’ve found a variety of products that they creatively recycle into new products. Plus, they’ve got a range of items we could replace in our day-to-day lives while being environmentally conscious.

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author: Chelsea Bartell

Image: Cristian Palmer/Unsplash

Image: @Ecofolks

Editor: Catherine Monkman