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How to honestly be a greener citizen

Darius Mirshahi | Interrobang | Opinion | March 30th, 2009

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
It's Environmental Week! For one week let's pretend we give a shit about the planet we're destroying and make symbolic gestures, such as recycling and buying green products!

I guess I shouldn't complain, a week of environmental awareness is at least better than World Wildlife Fund's pathetic, corporate-sponsored, 'Earth Hour'. Shutting your lights off for an hour won't change anything, especially considering Earth Hour is in the evening, after peak hours of energy usage.

Earth Hour does nothing to reduce energy demand in the long term, and in fact is a major obstacle to change. The main problem with Earth Hour is that it allows people with good intentions to falsely believe that they are taking action, and being part of the solution, when they are actually doing nothing. Turning your lights off for an hour at night does nothing to reduce energy production. If anything we should at least be turning off all our electricity during peak hours in the daytime, but that too is not nearly enough. What we should be focusing our efforts on challenging the corporations who are polluting our planet, and reducing the amount of energy (and other resources) we consume on a daily basis. Instead of planting saplings around the manufactured landscapes we live in, we need to protect the last remaining old-growth forests from being cut down. Instead of buying green and recycled products, we should just reduce the amount of stuff we buy in the first place, and reuse the stuff that's already out there. People always promote recycling and forget that reduce comes first, reuse comes second, and recycle comes last in the three R's.

People talk about getting a hybrid as if it were the best thing to do to reduce your carbon footprint, but there are many solutions which are more efficient, and are not only for rich people who can afford to buy new cars. In fact, simply going vegetarian will reduce your carbon footprint more than switching to a hybrid. Also, switching from a driving car to public transit and bikes, and living a more local lifestyle makes owning a hybrid seem totally unnecessary and inefficient. Buying nothing is more green than buying green. So let's learn to buy a whole lot less, and waste a whole lot less too. When it comes to being wasteful, students are some of the worst offenders. London is the only city I've ever lived in where the amount of stuff being thrown away at the end of the second semester seems to dwarf the amount of garbage generated by the biggest consumer holidays. It seems as though students in this city throw out everything when they leave instead of packing it up. It's gotten so ridiculous that there are actually businesses in my neighbourhood who compete at gathering your furniture off the curb and then re-sell it to new students next year. The problem is that most stuff gets ruined and taken to the landfill instead of to someone who could use it. This is one clear example of how our isolated, consumer-based, society is wasteful, environmentally damaging, and lacking in mutual aid. So let's start creating solutions.

Last Buy Nothing Day I helped organize a day of gift economics in Forwell Hall called a ‘Really Really Free Market', at which everybody came and brought massive amounts of free stuff and left with other things they needed. But it's not only stuff that people brought. Some came with amazing talents and music to share. It was such a success that we are planning another one. Join us this Friday, April 3, from 9 am to 2 pm as we turn Forwell Hall into a living example of a society based on gift-giving and mutual aid rather than capitalism. There will be tons of free stuff including clothing, furniture, accessories, etc. There will also be some amazing local folk and spoken word artists coming to share their talents. At the last one we had airbrush tatoos happening, workshops took place, and there was free food as well. Food Not Bombs has confirmed that they will also be participating this time! So please come and bring things, services, games, music, and talents to share with each other as we build a better and freer society.
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