Friday’s Essay – Do What You Can, Then Do A Bit More

Breath of Gaia by Josephine Wall

Breath of Gaia by Josephine Wall

The year I turned eighteen I celebrated the twentieth Earth Day by sitting at a booth in a mall handing out pamphlets and selling T-shirts to raise awareness about preserving our environment.  As soon as I finished my shift I went to start my new job as a pump jockey at the Co-op gas station.  I suspect that story can be found under ‘irony’ in someone’s dictionary.  Of course, young people don’t have a lot of options when it comes to part-time jobs.  This one paid well, was unionized and with the Co-op.  It was good for me as I was trying to save a bucket of money for my trip to Senegal.  In any event, the irony of the situation got me thinking about life in North America.  Also, a Facebook post from a friend asking similar questions.  How do you live your principles if they are nearly opposite to those of mainstream society? Short of living in the woods, foraging for food and shelter and clothing what can one do?  In my opinion, the answer is simple – do what you can and then do a bit more.  If you can live in the woods and forage for what you need, go for it.  Most of us who live in North America really don’t have that option. Most of us live and work in cities (if we work – I am well aware of how privileged I am).  We don’t or can’t grow our own food.  We have to clothe, feed and house ourselves and families. Those of us with children want them to have opportunities, experiences and develop skills.  We sign them up for dance, hockey, soccer, art, Scouts, Guides and we drive them to and from all these activities.  Granted this isn’t everyone’s reality, but it is for a lot of people – especially people I know.  Feeding and clothing ourselves and our  families can be expensive.  It seems more expensive to ensure we’re purchasing environmentally and socially responsible products.  However, I do believe there are many North Americans who can afford to make different choices regarding how they spend their money.  In the absence of a government willing to protect the environment and make policies that address climate change regular citizens are going to have to take charge of the situation.  This is the part where you do what you can and then do a little bit more.  Can you take the bus to work? Do that.  Now, can you walk or ride your bike? Do that little bit more.  Can you buy your produce and other food from your local farmers’ market? Do that.  Now, can you grow your own produce, possibly raise chickens (I can’t)? Do that little bit more.  Yes, it takes work and planning.  It means living consciously.  What it shouldn’t be is soul crushing and guilt inducing.  Do what you can afford to do, are comfortable doing and makes you feel good.  Find like-minded folks who support you and your efforts.  There are so many issues that make up climate change and environmental concerns that it is nearly impossible for one person to know them all.  It is definitely impossible for one person to do everything to fix them.  Learn about the issues.  Do what you can.  Then, do a bit more.  And, keep doing a little bit more as often as you can.