Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 9:17 pm | Fair 63º


Kate Nelson: Save the Dolphins, Save the Whales, Hug a Tree

It’s time we all accept responsibility for the damage and make an effort to create a healthier ecosystem

For years we, as a collective society, have been subjected to hippie groups’ pleading. For decades we have seen bumper stickers with sappy quotes and bleeding heart pictures. We’ve seen images on our TV screens of slaughtered dolphins and abused animals, and forwarded e-mails begging for an end to global warming-induced mass extinction. Millions of poor creatures’ spilled blood was unjust and undeserved. Perhaps that is just the evolution of the human-dominated food chain.

Kate Nelson
Kate Nelson

However, no longer are we ranked solely based on nutritious necessity. We dominate because of our superior intelligence, advanced weaponry and — of course, powerful motivation — greed. We’re not going to eliminate capitalism, and we’re not forfeiting mass consumption. Yet, it seems inevitable that some change must go down to maintain a healthy functioning ecosystem. So, how do we — hippies and yuppies alike — maintain our comfort, yet help these creatures whose lives are a mere afterthought to our indulgence and extraction?

Sure, by now we all rock the reusable bag and have aluminum water bottles clipped on our gym bags. Our laptops are stuck with earth-conscious stickers, and our shirts all read “green is the new black.” Everyone is chatting of the Great Pacific trash gyre or the horrific Gulf of Mexico oil spill over their espressos. We continue to operate about our normal lives, which, as of late, appear to reflect a heightened awareness and sensitivity to the environment. Us with our reusable coffee mugs. It feels good to be making a small difference. Every time we use our bags at the store, you can feel good about preventing the death of a sea turtle who might mistake it for a jellyfish.

The old-schoolers meant well in their tree-hugging, granola-frothing, hemp-sporting way, but fat chance pushing such ideas on an expanding and profiting society head over heels for fossil fuels. We love the hippie lifestyle, and we’ll agree change begins with ourselves.

Pat yourself on the back if you do carry your own bags, bottles, etc., and if you cart around your own Tupperware and silverware. E-mail me and I’ll pat you on the back, too (maybe just virtually; you never know these days with all the crazies out there).

Seriously, you are setting a great example for your friends and family, and you’re making it easier on yourself to waste less by providing yourself with these alternatives to plastic. It feels a little slow-going for us modern-day hippies with our smart phones buzzing, thus accept your personal responsibility to change yourself and keep it moving forward.

Next we need to initiate local action. Start putting the pressure on the City Council to clean up our town, set standards for waste and use compostable materials, and to set up an industrial composting system. We need to get environmental education mandated for our kids. It is essential that they understand how they as individuals affect the local and the global ecosystem. If your kids tell you to turn off the water, this is a good sign. Ask your grocer and pharmacist to stop offering plastic as an option at the checkout. Put pressure on local businesses to get compostable to-go ware. Put pressure on the manufacturers of your favorite brands.

As a customer, make use of your buying power and show them you have standards for where you spend your dollar bills. As an employee, show your boss the figures — going green saves your business lots of cash. Think energy-saving light bulbs, less electricity used, lower electricity bill! Same goes for reusable cups in the coffee room, refillable water tanks and metal utensils in the kitchen.

Start with yourself, your home and your business. Save the whales every day at the supermarket, but make sure you understand why you are wearing that green T-shirt and carrying your bag. Keep yourself informed to keep yourself responsible. Once you get comfortable and in your routine, all the data could change.

This is why our society got into this mess in the first place — no regard for the research and no time to spend on keeping updated. Had we done the research to see where these extinctions or pollution stem from and how these problems would evolve, we may be better off. However, there is never time — or funding, for that matter — for research, until after disaster strikes and we realize survival necessitates a study. Seek out environmental news and keep yourself up to date. Then you can really impress people with some causal stat-slanging conversation in the lineup.

Maybe we were too busy looking at the shiny new stuff to feel sympathy for those whales, but now that we have all of our stuff, perhaps it’s time we accept some of the responsibility and make just as much of an effort to reverse some of this damage surely we were all part of. I say, accept your own responsibility for contributing to the waste and commit to staying informed.

Save those poor little scaled and feathered beasts — and we’ll really be saving ourselves.

Do it for the creatures that haven’t even been discovered to exist yet. Do it for the mermaids your kids wish exist. Do it for those poor hippies still strapped to trees, delusional in their despair. Find your own reason. Mine is a love for swimming; I want to swim every day of my life in that vast sea. So I’m going to clean the beaches, pick up trash out of the sea (even with my bare hands; hand sanitizer, people!), and use less so that I waste less.

— Kate Nelson is the co-founder of the nonprofit Save the Mermaids. She hugs trees, loves granola and would be happy to forward you a ton of e-mails with horrifying footage of sea creatures struggling to survive in the plastic-saturated ocean. Save the Mermaids operates off donations from concerned individuals such as yourself.

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