Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Step 5 in Going Green: Take Action Part 3: Internet Activism!

When you are exploring something new in this day and age, one of the things you must do is...turn to the internet!

The internet has a seemingly limitless supply of media reports that will tell you how bad things are going environmentally.

I used to tune those out because they were so distressing.  Now I see them as a necessary wake up call.

But if you just stop there, at all the dire warnings, you may experience feelings of impotence and despair...and just want to tune them out again...

So it is necessary to find the flip side, and to see how the internet can be a tool of action!

There are an INCREDIBLE number of people actively mobilizing to change things. It is heartening to see the energy, motivation, and action being taken on any number of causes. These are all over social media!

(Go find them! Here's a start: @DavidSuzukiFDN @WWFCanada @350Canada @GreenpeaceCA @ecojustice_ca @350 @HuffPostGreen @algore @climatereality @queenofgreen @CANBarrie and the list goes on...)

I wish we saw more of this on the traditional news outlets.

These people/organizations are inspiring. They make you want to say: I can do that. I will do that.

Many of these causes make it easy for you to support them. You can fill out an on-line petition! It will take you two seconds! You will just have to be prepared to give your personal contact information.

You will have to openly, publicly align yourself.

This is a great move for any newbie greenie!

Typing in your name is a bold step, an affirmation, a declaration: "I SUPPORT THIS CALL OF ACTION! And here's my email address, so you know where to find me!"

This can feel invigorating!

I myself have now sent off several of these petitions and it felt great!

I think my local MP knows who I am now. He is not of a party I associate with Eco activism, but his (form?) emails in response to me are always polite. (Looks like I can strike up a conversation at the next local community event with the words: "I'm Julie Johnson, I keep emailing you about environmental concerns via those on-line petitions...")

However, once you do it so many time over, you can feel a little bit like...can I do more? What else can I do?

Also, you can feel splintered, like your activism energy is being diffused across too many causes...there are so many causes...it can start to get to feel overwhelming again...

I think the next step is: finding a focus.

You'll hear more about that in the next blog post!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Step 4 in Going Green: Take Action Part 2: Re-Evaluate 'Green' In Your Daily Life

Of course, everyone knows about the 3 Rs, which has become standard practice around here these days.

Back when I was a kid, in the 70/80's, recycling meant dad was taking his empty beer battles back.

That's it.

And MacDonald's put everything in styrofoam.

Those crazy 70/80's! What were we thinking? *eye roll*

So, evidently, we have come a long way!

Or so you think until you put on your 'green glasses'. Awakened to a higher environmental consciousness, you start looking beyond the 3Rs, seeing trouble everywhere...

Take the average Canadian grocery store.

I unpacked my groceries the other day and realized...they've got tons of FREE plastic bags for you to put your veggies in!

Mindlessly, for years, I have been doing this. Picking up zucchini...and putting it in the provided plastic bag.

Even when I brought my own cloth bags to pack my groceries at the check out, which is now the environmentally friendly custom...I was still picking up my green beans and stuffing them in a plastic bag...which I would then put in my enviro friendly cloth bag...

Here is a picture from my last shop:


And where do they go when I'm done with them? Right in the trash, where it takes years for them to biodegrade.

Why do I use them, you ask? Habit, I suppose. Convenience, I suppose. And they keep my precious veggies from touching the germ infested shopping cart and/or checkout counter.

So let's open the fridge and put those precious veggies away...

Only to realize that most of them have racked up a serious amount of frequent flyer points!

Most of it comes from the USA, burning up fossil fuels along the way.

(But my sweet peppers came all the way from Honduras!)

Now the one time I splurged and bought (crazy expensive) organic sweet peppers at the grocery store...I realized after the fact...that they were wrapped in plastic!

So should I buy the (crazy expensive) organic peppers wrapped in plastic...or the (cheaper) non organic peppers flown in from far away...the ones that I can then put in a plastic bag kindly provided to me by the grocery store?

Which hurts the environment more?

Decisions like that make my head hurt.

It's amazing to realize the extent to which we have created a non-environmentally friendly environment.

Here's where I put on my cranky pants, as I realize how neatly we have put the screws to ourselves.

We have created a society where almost everything we do comes at a high ecological price.

From the moment I wake up to the moment I sleep, every little mundane decision has an environmental consequence.

Gas up the car?
Turn on the lights?
Get dressed?

Every 'ordinary' task takes on a green hue.

I can't even go to the plain ol' grocery store without developing a severe case of ANGST.

I'm not surprised a lot of well intentioned 'going green' people decide to say FORGET THIS.

Daily life seems a grind, as soon as you put on your Green Glasses. Every decision is fraught with significance. Suddenly, its not so easy going green.

Which I guess is the point. We wouldn't be in the mess we were in if we'd aligned our society differently. To change things means to swim against the current, to dig deep, and to think deep.

One day, maybe, it won't be that way. One day, green won't be 'the alternative'. It will instead be embedded in daily life, ordinary.

And future generations will roll their eyes at our time in history, mocking our astonishing lack of green. Really, *eye roll* what were we thinking?

Friday, 12 June 2015

Step 3 in Going Green: Take Action (Part 1): An Appeal to My Fellow Writers/Artists/Creatives

Decades ago, I had an idea for a series of environmental romances.

They would be a Harlequin series, I explained to a friend. 

The romance would play out against a backdrop of environmental calamity. One book would be about deforestation, another the deteriorating arctic ice, another an oil spill in the Gulf, yet another on endangered animals. And so on. 

"Imagine it!" I exclaimed. 

Exotic locales! Dashing (Greenpeace) heroes or maybe dashing CEOs who, thanks to the meddling of the beautiful, caring, clever heroine-marine biologist-animal sanctuary owner-eco minded journalist, has a change of heart. 

The romance genre is littered with high powered business fellas, maybe one of those wealthy CEOs has a (green) heart and decides to cancel that oil pipeline for good?

"It would be fun and educational!" I enthused. You'd get all the allure of a romance novel and, at the same time: environmental awareness!

But my friend was sceptical. 

It didn't sound very sexy to her. 

And she's right. 

Environmental issues are not sexy. Think: swaths of destroyed forest, oil covered sea otters dead on a beach, polar bears stranded on ice flows, elephant carcasses minus tusks. 

It's not sexy! It's sad and upsetting! And it's very hard to write about without devolving into ALL CAPS RANTS!

I shelved the idea.

But now I'm thinking: maybe I'll bring it back? 

'Climate Fiction' (Cli Fi ) is a genre now and there are some environmental romances out there (not to the extent I was imagining, mind. I wanted an entire division at Harlequin. - a signature line: Eco Love. And a designated section in the book store.)

The universe also seems to be telling me to do it. 

I was at a writer's conference at the end of April that also had an environmental edge and a student / scientist got on stage and with great fervour told the writers in the audience to do something. She said that scientists write about eco issues with their mind, but what was desperately needed was writing from the heart.

We need you to put the word out there, move people, make them care, she said (I'm paraphrasing).

I'm not sure my 'Eco Love' series was what she had in mind...but no matter! 

The call has been heeded! I'm ready to pick up my pen for the cause, for clearly there is the need to increase the visibility of eco issues in the mainstream, and this is where the artists & creatives like me come in! We need novels and plays and (more) movies and tv sitcoms about the environment! GO!

Because, this is a PR war, apparently.

In actuality, in early May I started writing an eco book--not a romance, but a cli fi dystopian comedy-mystery, if there can be such a thing. 

For some reason, I'm choosing bizarre genres for my eco minded creativity. Girly hearts and unicorns. And a laugh track. None of it fits with the severity of the issue. But I want to make it fit. And perhaps that's the point. It needs to fit.

Or rather, all that heaviness needs a counterpoint. 

The situation is grim and you either laugh or cry. Love or hate. I'm choosing love and laugh, thank you very much.

What are you going to choose?

And how are your going to choose to express it?