Every few days, I look at my statistics on Ecosia to calculate how many trees my generated searches have planted. It’s an effortless process: On Ecosia, I plant one tree every 45 times I search for something. By dint of my internet obsession and my need to look up the definitions of words I repeatedly forget, my searches have planted 150 trees in the last few months. Using Ecosia makes me feel gratified, although I realize my contribution is a tiny drop of water in a massive, ever-drying bucket.
Ecosia is one of the many tools environmentalists swear by. It’s also one of the simplest devices in the environmentalist repository. Other strategies are not so simple or affordable. Eating organic and local food? Easy, but not so cheap. Most of the millennials who care to save the earth can’t afford to shop at their local co-op.
Growing your food? We all fantasize about replacing our front lawn with a vegetable garden, but it’s not as romantic as it sounds. Tilling your land at six in the morning, applying organic pesticides and insecticides, harvesting plants after a long day of work. Growing your own food is cheap, and it feels good, but it isn’t an easy task. Try balancing a 9–5 job, your social life, and caring for your vegetable garden while still setting aside time to relax.
Hanging your clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer, using reusable bags, replacing your light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs, walking or bicycling if you can: there are many ways for you to go green. Some environmental methods save money; others cost more. Most of them take more time than their non-environmental alternative. But if you can implement any greener method, you should.
We need to acknowledge a couple of things, though. First, environmentalism is difficult. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and burdensome. Sure, there’s some pride and fulfillment attached to it, but being a strict environmentalist (I’m not, though I try) can be extraordinarily arduous.
Why do we have to be careful about shutting off the lights every time we leave a room? We do we have to drive at the speed limit when we’re already late for work? Why do ordinary people have to plant trees and undertake strict measures to offset the environmental damage that corporations, who have fucked over the environment to oblivion, ignore? Why are we strangling ourselves by following a bottom-to-top method of saving the world when we’re not the reason the world is in dire straits?
Well, the sole reason is that corporations ignore the damage they’ve inflicted. So there’s no better way for now. But I wonder if environmentalists reinforce lousy behavior by sorting out the problems themselves. Maybe corporations would clean up their trash if we didn’t. But perhaps they wouldn’t.
I hope to see the day when environmentalists don’t need to carry around the guilt that’s not theirs; when corporations start giving a shit. Until then, we will trudge on, using reusable cotton bags and bamboo forks, awaiting a more accountable world.