Looking To The Future

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Present day Canadian society is literally oblivious. Everyone knows the state that the environment is in yet very few advocate changing it. It is this lack of drive and sense of impending doom that acts as an inhibitor for Canadians to let go of the “most recent past”. As more and more Canadians are seen sporting this fearful attitude towards the uncertain, the job for those working towards the greater good is becoming more and more complex. Instead of searching for Band-Aid solutions that will magically cover-up all the world’s problems, why not brainstorm more viable and feasible long-term solutions?

A system that is expected to grow exponentially is not in any way sustainable. Canadians need to stop replacing the Band-Aid. In order to rip off the Band-Aid and move ahead more intentionally citizens need to be conscious of three things: consumerism, technology and impact.

Lesson One: Consumerism

Consumerism is so deeply rooted in our society that kids now-a-days can recognize more advertisements than native flora and fauna. Unfortunately, the painting of what is the ‘norm’ in present day society is smeared with stains of consumerism and industrialization. Cruising into the typical Canadian town one will not notice only billboards that line the highways approaching cities, but also the lack of green space as their personal vehicle speeds down a multi-lane highway. Once passing a sign announcing the name of the city, the drive towards “downtown” is guerrilla warfare of ads all claiming that they make the best steak in the county or that their clothes are “hip”. There is nothing green in sight. It has all been removed to make room for the massive shopping centers where it is rumoured that most youth spend a vast majority of their time and income. Sounds familiar does it not?

However, it does not have to. When buying goods question what the brand supports. Become conscious of what your money is going to.  Better yet, support local farmers when buying foods, buy material goods from local artisans, and shop in thrift stores to replenish your wardrobe when necessary. These are simple solutions to combatting the negative wave of destruction caused by consumerism and the “buy more” mentality. Always remember: companies listen to consumer trends; why not make purchasing less the trend of the century?

Lesson Two: Technology

After recently reviewing the short film “The Story of Electronics” it has been brought up that technology is produced not to last, but to work until the consumer has enough faith in the product that they will replace their broken device with another from the same company. This produces exuberant amounts of toxic waste and by-products in not only the production but the disposal of the product as well. Each year technology expands having more updates such as 3D T.V. and newer, faster computers. These devices not only cause consumers to take on gang-like temperaments but in the fight to be the first to own these hot new gadgets the amount of disconnect from one another and nature increases. Teens are usually the most victimized from hot new tech, as they are being raised in a cultural where Facebook and text messages dominate their lives.

But there are solutions to the madness of technology. One can unplug for the day and avoid technology entirely, commit to spending more time outside as opposed to wasting time glued to the screen, and  also recycle their old gadgets once they break – protecting the earth from destructive chemical leaching. Moreover, developing a solid connection to the natural environment is the most lasting experience that will encourage victims of technology to wise up, and stop supporting devices that destroy the ground they walk upon.

Lesson Three: Impact

As soon as we become aware, suddenly there are endless choices to be made. It is our choices that impact us, our families and our environment.  The impact created can go in either a positive direction or a negative one. A day full of positive impact would resemble Colin Bevin’s lifestyle during his yearlong excursion in reducing the impact made by him and his family (depicted in the film “No Impact Man”). During the length of his experiment he boycotts toilet paper, turns off the electricity in his New York apartment and only travels self-propelled. He has an eye-opening experience and discovers what an achievable balance of environmental awareness is.

Sadly, not everyone can be an environmental saint as that level of commitment requires a vast expenditure of time and effort.  Another disappointing reality is that the individuals in charge of making big decisions for our country either have ties with, or are a part of, corporate superpowers whose only concern is for the economy to grow at an exponential rate. The outlook surrounding those “in charge” can easily be summed up by Marshall McLuhan who states that “[w]e look at the present through a rear view mirror. We march backwards into the future. Spaceship earth is still operated by railway conductors”.

This discouraging fatality is not to be feared as the upcoming generation are no longer railway conductors but astronauts, ready to clean up the destruction of the past. They in fact are learning how to stand up for what is right, to yell until their voice is heard and to fight for equality among the central powers. It is through their passion and commitment to bettering the world that global impact will lessen, and ecosystems will once again thrive.

Designed to Last

After reviewing lessons one to three it is time to remove the Band-Aid and see the healed wound. No longer shall Canadians put up blinders to what is happening before our very eyes. Nothing needs to happen at the speed of light; slow and steady is always the best option when dealing with the environment. It is a slow but steady revolution that is taking place, a revolution that is giving birth to a new wave of leaders and change makers. These are the individuals who can face and eliminate the negative repercussions of consumerism, technology and impact.

Get ready for it, it is time to let go of the most recent past and adapt to the new flavour of the future.

Alyssa Stapleton is currently finishing up her final year at Brooks Secondary school, located in Powell River, B.C. where she was a participant in the Coast Mountain Academy program, and is currently chair of the school’s environmental club S.E.A (Students for Environmental Action). This spring she will be joining a team of 15 other inspiring youth to cycle from Waterloo Ontario to Ottawa Ontario with the Otesha program. During her trip she will be volunteering on organic farms and speaking with communities and schools about how their everyday consumer choices impact the planet. She is also currently in the Powell River Digital Film school and hopes to be able to present a film about her experience in Otesha upon completion of the trip. Next September she plans on attending Mount Allison University, in Sackville New Brunswick, to study Environmental Science.

Published by Joshua Nelson

Joshua's life goal is leave this world better than when he came in – similar to the campsite rule. He started writing about sustainable economics with his blog Steady State Revolution, acted as Washington Chapter Director for the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) for a few years and is a co-founder of the Post Growth Institute. An avid reader, cyclist and hobbyist mead maker, Joshua lives Seattle, WA USA with his wife and son.

3 replies on “Looking To The Future”

  1. Alyssa, in addition to your obvious passion and commitment, you have great turns of phrase as a writer!

    You also make an interesting point about how hard it is to be sustainable in an unsustainable world – it takes a lot of time and effort. I wonder if all the work groups and individuals like yourselves are doing can realise a world in which living sustainably is the norm, and it just ‘happens’ without conscious effort – or will we always need to be mindful and conscious?

    All the best with your studies, your forthcoming bike trip and your awareness raising.

  2. Hi Sharon, thanks!

    Sorry for the delayed response. I would love to see a world where sustainable is the ‘norm’ however we currently live in society (primarily north america) which is built upon a carbon based economy which calls for exponential growth, in addition we also are bombarded with the need for speed as we have fast food, faster cars, and faster attention spans. So it does make the whole sustainability angle a hard one to make socially acceptable just because it does take a little bit more time. Take growing your own food for example first you need to start the seeds which takes about two weeks or so for them to sprout then you need to wait another couple of weeks before you transfer them to your garden and then after that it’s about thirty to sixty days before you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. However, then they create the fast easy option of going to grocery store where you can buy in an instant whatever you were trying to grow yourself plus much more. I think though personally that once people realize how much more rewarding it is to slow down and really enjoy every single task at hand is when people will start to create a sense of normality towards living in a more sustainable world. Because in reality at a slower pace you begin to appreciate life a lot more and every little detail in the grand scheme of things is much more easily sighted!

    Thanks so much for the support!

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