Purposeful Young Professionals
It's really great to live according to our values.
If we're worried about climate change, it's great to choose to bike or take the train, or think twice about unnecessary journeys.
If we're concerned about waste, it's important to do our bit and reduce or recycle that waste.
Choosing to do good - try and do less bad, as by our very nature humans weigh on our planet - is important, and can also help us do better. Every bit does count.
But it's also important, I think, to not let it always stop there.
We can bike, and, for example, we can ask our government to make polluters pay, to incentivise them to reduce their carbon emissions.
We can refill our drink bottles, but we can also make a submission to council on the importance of zero waste in their planning.
We can buy fair trade, but we can also work towards a political system where no one produces our food or clothing in cruel or unhealthy conditions.
Conscious consumption is important. It helps good businesses and encourages bad businesses to improve.
But I think it's also important to think about the other ways we can make change. And bigger change. It's not just about an individual and their buying choices. Most individuals can vote, and in between elections they can push and challenge their governments and submit to their select committees and harangue their MPs to do the right thing. They can be bigger than just themselves.
I started thinking about this again upon reading, over at Grist, Gar Lipow's article "Green lifestyle choices won't solve the climat...
One comparison used, that hadn't occurred to me before, was that of slavery being the challenge of the 19th century, and the climate crisis that of the 21st. At that time some utopian communities refused to use slave labour and grew their own cotton. Others got political. Frederick Douglass as an orator promoted the abolitionist cause. Harriet Tubman freed hundred of slaves. They wore slave-cotton, but they were the ones who ultimately brought freedom to the US - freedom beyond the communes.
Gar says, "The answer to collective political failure is political action." There's an election coming up, and one of the best ways NZers can make change is to engage with our political system.
There's many NGOs that help us decipher political party promises by looking at their policies - whether the issue be women's rights, health or climate change. The folks at Generation Zero, for example, have compared climate change policies in "Elect Who?", Forest and Bird has asked a series of questions to political parties on their commitment to the environment at Vote for Nature, and the CTU has done the same with equality issues in Vote Fairness. There's heaps more from lots of different groups.
Bike, yes, but make it to a polling booth.
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