The abnormal “normal”

The discussions in this class have led me to become more passionate about how we, as a society, make an impact on the environment that surrounds us and provides us with the resources we need to survive. When I take a second to reflect on the impact that I have made on the environment, I know that even though I consciously tried to keep my waste production as little waste as I could, I still could have done better. It is so difficult to go without using something that is disposable in the world that we live in today. This class has really put it in a whole new perspective for me to realize how much of a problem this is and how it needs to be fixed as soon as possible. When you just think about it as the corporation’s fault for not trying hard enough to fix the waste problem, it becomes easier for you to carry on throughout your day without feeling any guilt. However, this class brought to my attention that we live in an economically driven society rather than just being focused on what’s actually important. When you think about the log industry and how it is causing deforestation it becomes pretty easy to decide that it should be solved by stopping the production of cutting down trees, but you don’t think about how many jobs will be lost and how we will recuperate without any paper products. Vast amounts of money will have to go into research on how to replace the need for lumber.  

Every wicked problem that we have covered so far has left me thinking about how I can make a difference by making responsible choices through my daily life. I may not be able to stop deforestation or end world hunger, but I can shop more responsibly by doing things such as bringing my own grocery bags, or buying food products in recyclable packaging, or even biodegradable packaging. It may not seem like a lot on its own, but every little thing counts, especially considering there are 7 billion people who live on this planet and the more people that contribute, the better off we may be in the future. I can remember a time when I was little, and I was trying to catch some small fish in a stream while sitting on a big rock in the middle. They started to swim a tad bit too far out of my reach and the plastic cup I was holding fell out of my hands and the current of the stream swept it away. I instantly felt terrible and could not stop thinking about how I had just littered, but my mother reassured me that it was merely an accident, and I should not feel guilty about it. I think about that memory when I look back on how I treat the world today and how much waste I produce now compared to that one plastic cup I lost in the stream. How could I feel so guilty about that incident when I don’t think about how I live in the present? The notion that what we are currently doing is normal has become so imbedded into our mindset as something that is just merely part of how we live, and we don’t think about how much of a problem it actually is. How we are living has become so standard to all of us because it is just brushed off as how we get through the day when all our focus is instead put towards money and success, but none of that truly matters when our environment that we need in order to live is slowly becoming less habitable.  

Currently, I try to avoid plastic items that are not recyclable, especially straws, and I collect my plastic grocery bags to recycle them at Target because they have recycle bins specifically for plastic grocery bags. Even though I grew up in the country and we don’t have trucks who come pick up recycles, my family has collected their recycles and taken them to that city about once a month for as long as I can remember. I know that we are some of the few that live there and take the time to do this so I am hoping that maybe one day this service will become a free incentive that is funded by the government in order to promote more people to take part because you might as well if you are given a recycle can to put them in and someone who picks it up just like your trash. Yes, I could sit here and type about how these people could be considered selfish for not taking action, but that is why this is a wicked problem, because there will always be someone on the other side of the argument. So instead, I will think about how we can provide this service in a more accessible way rather than trying to provide an incentive for going out of their way. There have been discussions about how we could get more people to recycle by giving them rewards but I don’t think that people will do anything they don’t want to in order to receive a small incentive, however, if it is just a as easy for them to recycle rather than disposing their waste in the trash, then they will all most likely choose the better option to recycle and then feel a slight feeling of content with how they made their decision.  

Personally, I believe it would vastly benefit our future of sustainability if we required more students to take a short class on this topic. Everyone should be exposed to reality, that is how we recognize what is normal to us is what needs to be fixed. We can’t expect to go tear down large corporations for their pollution until the little things in our daily habits change first. The companies causing waste are perceived as the Goliath of our story but really, it’s the impact that 7 billion people have on our planet. Our resources are not meant to supply what is needed for all of humanity, so we mass produce what we can’t naturally get. Until we fix our habits and how we as humankind make an impact, we can’t truly change what needs to happen in order to prevent our environment from shutting down, and it needs to happen before it becomes too late.  

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