This past week, poverty stood out to me with significance. For some people, poverty is just this really sad thing you think about but never really experience yourself. You picture underdeveloped countries. A distant land. But the reality is, there a lot of people around us that could be consistently struggling to keep their lights on or struggling to eat. I know what it feels like to pinch pennies just to survive long enough to see the next paycheck. When I say “I”, I mean when I lived with my family and also living by myself. It’s not fun to struggle to the point where you’re sleeping under several blankets because your family couldn’t afford to pay the electric bill or relying on free food because you absolutely cannot afford it. Now it hasn’t always been this way for me and oddly enough, I appreciate how I grew up. I feel like it has shaped me into the person I am. I am able to relate and empathize with all different kinds of people. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go through the same exact experience to empathize with someone else’s situation.
A good example of this is Jessica Jackley, cofounder of Kiva. She had not faced poverty herself but she had a heart for the poor since she was a young girl. Once she took the time to actually talk to people facing these problems, she was able to see that what they felt they needed to succeed, wasn’t much at all. I really liked the part where she mentioned that the best way for people to change their lives is to have control and do what is best for them rather than having an outsider that is out-of-touch step in and try to change what is perceived as the best thing.
In class, we also read an article over poverty and how that effects environmental degradation. I completely agree that poverty contributes to the degradation of the environment because those who are struggling to pay basic bills aren’t necessarily worried about making the best eco-friendly choices, especially when eco-friendly options are typically more expensive. Living on my own has taught me the value of money more than my parents ever could have. Most times, I buy the absolute cheapest version of everything. Even toilet paper. One day, I was talking to my friend about sustainability as I was in the process of moving. I was in need of more trash bags and toilet paper so I went to go buy some with full intentions of seeking out the cheapest of the cheap. However, while I was at the store, I saw both trash bags and tissue that screamed “sustainable” (it actually said sustainable on the packaging) and I recalled the conversation I had earlier that day, so I bought them. The price difference between the sustainable items and the cheap items that I usually get, was significant. This makes it very difficult for people to make the better choice despite how much they want to because it is currently cheaper to ruin the environment, than it is to save it.
I took some time to look at the Story of Stuff’s official website and I saw some interesting topics that I would like to watch in the future. As I was watching the video on YouTube, the part deforestation saddened me but also overlapped with my sociology class. This past week, we watched a news story from 1999 about a woman in her 20s that lived in a tree for almost two years to protect/protest the cutting down of trees in California’s Redwood Forest. As mentioned in The Story of Stuff, corporations run everything and their only concern is to take natural resources for their own economic gain despite who gets hurt in the process. For Friday’s class reading, I was assigned the “yes” side of the issue. The article was intended to explain how the market is better at pushing consumers towards sustainability than the government. The author suggested a cap-and-trade method which I believe could be beneficial for limiting the use of fossil fuels. I found that article interesting because I had not heard of cap-and-trade before. This also deals with the topic of my final report so I plan to incorporate information learned from both the “no” and “yes” articles because they both contain information that is new to me, as well as possible solutions to my wicked problem.
Given my personality, I believe that I would best serve as a communicator-educator in aiding the environment. I feel that I am a “safe” source of information to go to for my friends and family. I can educate without passing judgment and enlighten them of the issues we are facing without attacking them. I can see myself in that role more than the others. Since being in this class, I have learned a lot about the state that our earth is currently in. I knew it was getting bad but I didn’t realize the extent of it, as I’m sure many people don’t. I am constantly thinking about being environmentally conscious every time I see a plastic bag or something that is plugged in but not in use. It is going to be a journey to get to the point that I would like to be at, which is zero-waste, but it’s not impossible and hopefully it won’t be too late.
In the TED talk by Yann, I found his film to be a lovely representation of the beauty of earth and the beauty of people. Although, human beings act superior in relation to the rest of the earth, we should be coexisting. The earth provides us with so much and we need to find a way to pay it back. We are all here together, it’s time to start acting like it.