By, Emily Hoffman
As a child I was raised with certain ethics and lessons that I’m sure many of you were raised with as well. Be kind to others, treat others how you’d want to be treated, be respectful, and leave a place cleaner than you found it. These ethics shaped me to interact with people and spaces in a kind, gentle, and respectful manner.
So why is it that the ethics we were raised and socialized with don’t apply to how we treat the environment?
We inherently pollute the atmosphere and groundwater for our convenience. Capitalism drives environmental destruction because we are exploiting the natural world in order to maintain our economy.
Nature can live without us but we can’t live without nature. We are the human species. We are living organisms that are different from other species due to the way we think, function, and act, but all in all we are natural beings that depend on the environment for survival. This environment is our home. This is the space we should be cleaning up every day before we reside in our physical homes for the night.
So why do we separate ourselves from nature? I mean, after all it is our common space. When talking about being kind and leaving a place better than we found it, think about how you interact with your dorm room or house in the beginning of the semester. For example, I live in the Dub (the Women’s Resource Center) and in the beginning of each semester I’d genuinely be excited about having a clean room and common space and would even wash dishes that were left sitting in the sink. But as the semester fades, and deadlines that seemed so far away hit me head on, it is more convenient for my own agenda to spend less time helping out my community and more time focusing on checking stuff off my to-do list.
Why does this happen? I’m still not sure. I was socialized as a kid to be kind, to be respectful, but why don’t we treat our global common space the way we treat our homes. Why don’t we clean it up, treat it well, and help to maintain its beauty and structure? Let’s be real, the only reason why we clean our homes is to make ourselves feel better. What if we all make a deal to put in a few extra minutes a day to clean up our local environments? I’m not just talking about picking up trash on the side of the highway. We need to stop deforesting old growth forests, clearcutting forests, and polluting bodies of water with toxic waste because it is less expensive than doing it the right way. Let’s do this for ourselves, and as a random act of kindness for all of our roommates who share the same space. Don’t you love coming home to a clean house?