The last few years I've found it so difficult to have hope when it comes to... well... most things. I suspect it's something to do with why it's always a certain demographic each generation that protests and speaks out and rages against the machine. It's true that as I've gotten older I've become more cynical and I feel a bit smaller in my ability to affect change.
I think some of this perspective and knowledge is important. There's only so much you can take on for so long before it becomes overwhelming and exhausting. But it's also a bit sad. To lose that piece of rebel.
And then. There are moments where I think: "Holy Goddess, we ARE changing after all". There IS hope.
One such moment happened a few days ago when I got a text from my mom with a picture of a black car. With the word "HYBRID" clearly written on the front windshield. And in case I didn't get that, she sent another picture of the "hybrid" fuel label of the actual car itself.
My parents bought a Toyota Camry Hybrid. Before we did.
You might think: "Why is this a big deal? I know lots of people who own hybrids".
Yes, but do you know a lot of rural, fishermen families who still occasionally burn their garbage, traditional, left-conservative voting families who own a hybrid?
I love my parents. They are the most loving, kind, giving and selfless people I know. I am thankful each and everyday for being fortunate enough to have them as parents. They have taught me so very much and made me who I am today.
But they are most certainly not environmentalists. Oh I think they mostly believe in climate change and pollution. It's just that it doesn't really affect them. They don't have the greatest things to say about local "treehuggers" come from the city to protect natural reserves from local use ("What do those damn hippies know about anything anyway?"). I've accepted long ago that they are proud of me, respect my choices and smile and shake their heads at their strong independent daughter's crazy hippy actions.
The fact that they purchased a hybrid vehicle made me stop and reconsider. I think maybe they have quietly been changing... while I wasn't looking.
After some further thought here are all the things my parents now do:
- My mom now uses vinegar and water to clean as well as a "green" cleaning supply brand.
- All of their light bulbs are CFL (including LED Christmas lights)
- My mom hangs all her clothes on the line (although this isn't new... she's always done this. Even during the winter months when there's snow on the ground.)
- My mom uses my home made soap and body lotion
- My parents each homemade preserves instead of buying them pre-made and for the most part they pick the fruit and vegetables themselves, locally.
- My parents have started purchasing food from local sources and have started to visit local farmer's markets.
- My parents recycle all plastic and paper AND compost (this is mandated by law in our province, but still- considering most of the capital city struggle with compliance in this, it's a huge accomplishment).
- When repainting their house and kitchen cabinets this year they purchased low VOC paint.
- My parents bought a hybrid vehicle.
What we truly need as a society is to make polluting and wastefulness not socially acceptable. David Suzuki wrote "A Sacred Balance" how he remembers that only 50 years ago it was socially acceptable to spit in public on the street, in stores and in public transit. He wrote that we need a complete social shift on what we value as a society in order to necessitate the amount of change in attitudes and perspectives with regards to the environment and our planet. And his spitting example was how such a radical paradigm shift IS possible.
I always believed it would be generational change- with those current elders staying in their ways.
My parents are quietly and most certainly already on that path of environmental change. And that gives me enormous hope.