How Environmental Attitudes Take Shape

Everyone living on Earth at this very moment is carrying with them a set of ideas and beliefs about the Environment that guides the decisions they will make throughout their lives. Although, many of us may not be fully aware of what these are. Research has shown that our past experiences with the natural world, especially during childhood, have a significant impact on these beliefs. So it can be stated plainly that people from different backgrounds will likely have slightly different, alternative or even conflicting views on the issues affecting us today.

One such issue is our over-production and consumption of plastic. A stark statistic from the U.S…Over 22 billion plastic bottles are used and thrown away each year. However when you crunch those numbers down you find out that this only equates to about 68 bottles per person. I could easily see this figure growing rapidly in the near future. Especially considering the increasing scarcity of freshwater. For highly dense urban areas such as Los Angeles, when water becomes scarce the quality of tap water declines. I have heard descriptions from peers, detailing the dirty water the flows from faucets. The kind of water you wouldn’t even wash your dog with, let alone drink. These kinds of conditions must certainly increase the consumption of plastic, as people search for reliable clean water. Being raised or living in this Environment brings with it certain attitudes that will probably be vastly different compared to someone from say, Hawaii.

Someone whose life is significantly impacted by a scarcity of fresh water and relies on bottled water, probably won’t give much thought to the Environmental toll of using harmful plastics. It could be impractical or they just simply can’t afford to change their behavior. However even if these conditions don’t exist many people can still carry on without ever considering the ramifications of their actions. This is why communicating the messages from Environmental activists is so important. When people become aware of these issues they can begin to make a change.

But here’s the problem. Two people will respond differently when presented with an issue. It all boils down to the past experiences of the individual.

Person A hears that massive amounts plastic find their way to our oceans every year and accumulate in huge masses, having devastating impact on marine life. Perhaps they also see images, of turtles and seabirds tangled up in our waste, and of beaches strewn with plastic. They think back to their childhood, and as it turns out Person A was born and raised on a beautiful stretch of coastline and throughout their childhood they often explored this environment, encountering many kinds of wildlife. With this appreciation embedded deep in their consciousness, Person A feels outraged and sympathetic. Then, perhaps feeling motivated by a sense of responsibility, they join a campaign to reduce the use of plastics in their community.

Person B however, feels no connection to the marine wildlife and has no sympathy for the health of our oceans. Person B grew up in a rural town in Iowa, and simply feels no connection to this issue. Person B will likely not take any action as these facts are irrelevant to their everyday life.

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