Conservation within one conversation (about climate change)

I already accepted that for many people I am a “hippie”. And to be fair, they have a point: I wear shoes that I made myself, I use cloth produce bags in the store instead of plastic ones, I spend most of my money on tofu and I buy exclusively organic toilet paper. If I saw myself walking down the street, I would probably assume that this girl just returned from a month’s long retreat at some kind of permaculture farm. But I do not view these labels as negative. If someone was to call me that, I would probably accept it as a compliment rather than anything else. To me, it means that I live by the values that I deem important and that I value them more than people’s opinions.

And so, for many people I am the student of sustainable development, the one who studies ecology.  When I talk to a new person, it is not rare for them to rely heavily on this topic. Most of my conversations are full of opinions on plastic bags, cups and electric cars. People ask me whether they should mow their lawns in a heat wave or if organic produce is really worth the extra charge. The other time, I talked to a new mother about reusable nappies and other products. Usually, when I talk to my grandmother, she proudly claims she is not watering her lawn to save water or that she is sowing more cloth produce bags. I am happy that people are interested in what I am studying and that they are not turning a blind eye to our future (that is very much on the rocks), and I am more than happy to lead this conversation. However, sometimes I am a little bit upset that they reduce me only to this category and don’t see past it. I wish they would not expect my approval or even my praise for what they do for the environmental. 

I do not need the people to tell me that they recycle or that they do not use plastic straws. Not only should this be a norm by now, but the planet needs more than that. We need the people to change the way the society is structured – we need people to talk to their representatives or to vote for parties with pro-environmental programme or talk to people around them. They should live by their ideals and not seek approval from a student of sustainable development. Because if they did, they would not need it. 

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