We have talked about the differences in our generations, the differences between your father’s and my generation and our parents’ generation, and the differences between all of those generations and our grandparents’ generation. So, you know that each generation has only had so much information at a time. When we were growing up, environmentalism and climate change were not major concerns. Many people tried to be good stewards of the environment, but it was not until the 1970’s when the need for concerted effort to alleviate the human impact on the environment came into the national spotlight. Because of that, our economy and way of life in the U.S. have developed without the environment as a central concern. It is difficult to restructure the economy; it is difficult to break patterns of energy use and resource consumption; and it is difficult to change daily patterns of living. Considering the political schisms in this country, I hope you understand that even though many of us recognize the urgency in lessening the human impact on the environment, we have struggled to convince everyone and to enact the kinds of policies that will rapidly improve our interaction with the Earth.
I give you this history so you can understand where we’ve come from and the challenges that still lie ahead. With that in mind, I have come to a couple conclusions:
1. Ultimately, we – as individuals and as a family – are responsible for our interactions with the Earth. We are responsible for recycling our trash; we are responsible for turning out the lights when we leave a room; we are responsible for using less water. The government will do what it does; businesses will do what they will do. Their actions are irrelevant in our decision-making process of how we will live daily.
2. It is hard to change a pattern of living. We buy certain products almost without thinking sometimes because that’s what we’ve always used. We throw things away in a certain way because that’s what we’ve always done. It will take intentionality for us to change these patterns. However, by taking on one change toward living in more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways each year, we can make these changes part of our lives.
3. It is important to support business owners and politicians who recognize the need to conduct business and implement policies that will lessen the negative human impact on the environment. While yes, as I said, we ultimately cannot control what politicians do and who is persuaded by which lobbyists, we can affect who is in office. In our democracy, in politics, we vote – that is how we can make sure advocates for the environment and for the health of the future are in office. In our economy, we vote with our money. That’s capitalism. Do not spend your money on companies known to waste or harm the environment. It may not seem like your money as an individual will make an impact, but in the aggregate – with everyone’s money pooled together – changes in the market will happen. Businesses will be forced to respond to consumer spending and adjust their business practices or they will go out of business. You have power to cause change. We all have that power.
Looking forward, I commit to you to change one thing a year in our lifestyle so that we live more environmentally friendly lives. This year, we have started using the blue bags to recycle. Let’s talk over New Year’s Eve and decide what change we will make for 2016. Speaking of 2016, I will vote for advocates of the environment and the future. Speaking of the future, as you know, I have always tried to work in jobs and for companies that I know practice sustainability. I will always do my best to continue working only for such companies. We will also be more intentional about where and how we spend our money and use our resources. My goal is to adjust our lifestyle to become environmentally friendly, so that when you are adults, you automatically live life in an environmentally friendly way. And hopefully, should you choose to have kids and if your kids choose to have kids, they will all live in a way and in a world that is environmentally friendly. Let’s make that the norm. Let’s change the world. Let’s save the world.
I love you forever,