Minimize, Maximize

The climate is changing on both small and large scales. Unfortunately, because so many people are either ignorant of this fact, or deny it altogether, it becomes difficult to mitigate the negative effects humans are having on the environment. In fact, it would be easy to back up the claim that those in high power have a vested interest in denying climate change for the sake of short-term capitalism. By that I mean that big companies profit from materials and practices that destroy the planet, so they deny the real problems and keep sedating and seducing the masses in to consumerism. This is not to say that every company does this, or even that every individual buys into it on a large scale. Many organizations are very eco-friendly and open about their methods. Many individuals practice small-scale mitigations, such as recycling, gardening, and bicycling instead of driving. This is all well and good, and we should keep that up. However, much more needs to be done.

In an article for Quartz Magazine, Alden Wicker considers the case of plastic water bottle consumption. “Market capitalism makes it incredibly difficult to make truly helpful sustainable choices,” which is why the number of plastic water bottles bought every week — a number already in the billions — continues to grow, despite the fact that it costs “2,000 times more than tap water.” Part of the problem lies in the cyclical nature of poverty: even if those in or near poverty are aware of the issues at hand, healthy and eco-friendly living takes time and investments that many cannot afford.

Although as an artist I wholeheartedly support being able to express your identity in myriad ways, I think it’s the clothing industry that bothers me most. As Wicker says, “most of those clothes have been designed in the first place to be obsolete after a year or two, just so that you’ll buy more.” This leaves endless clothing items lying in waste. Some can “afford” to have a plethora of clothing, while others have little to none. Not to mention the fact that only 2% of the clothing we wear is made in the US, and that small percentage is always more expensive. Clothing feels so superfluous. Yes, let’s each have a few basic items, and let’s keep ourselves from getting too cold. What more do we need, though? Do we need a rotating stock of 50 dresses? Do we need 30 pairs of high heels made with limited resources?

More people need to accept the big picture and make changes accordingly — especially influential people in large corporations or the government. There is a call to be selfless. There is a call to do as much as you can to pollute as little as you can, so that the earth can survive and thrive. Humans are exceptional beings, and our capacities to be creative and to collaborate are ultimately what will save our species and a great number of other species on the planet. We must make use of those abilities, because if we do not, that will be the end of it all. After all the bangs of industrial “progress”, the world would simply and tragically whimper out.

We need to raise awareness of the state of the earth. We need to start tending to its gardens and respecting it more. We need to understand the limitations of its resources. We need to understand how our human potential could be used to save the planet. We need to minimize; we need to maximize.