I can’t claim to know that much about sustainability, but whenever I get an email from FARM, I think about sustainability. Does that sound strange? Well, I have heard Dawn of FARM mention that she came from the sustainability movement, originally, and I have often wanted to pick her brain and get a crash course on the issue. Not that I’ve ever had the chance, but the thought is often there.
I also know that a lot of folks in the sustainability movement see vegan outreach in many areas of the world as being…hm. I don’t know the term that would best describe it, but something along the lines of elitist, obtuse, or maybe even blind. And I can sort of see their point, even though I very strongly believe that the absolute most efficient and most sustainable thing to do in any environment is grow plants. I know, however, that I am basing this primarily on my biology knowledge, and ignoring any potential social issues.
And really, we can’t frame the argument for other people in situations we’ve never imagined, so we have to educate ourselves before we can think to offer anything.
There are small things I do in my own life with sustainability in mind. Growing a garden, of course, and shopping at the farmers market when I can. Not using plastic bottles, and avoiding as much plastic in general as possible. Composting (which I’m only just getting started on) and recycling, of course. This has a lot to do with avoiding putting things into the garbage stream. I also try to avoid taking from the earth, and so I avoid buying things new, when I can. Books, I have to be perfectly honest, are a big failure of mine here. I indulge myself at the bookstore way too often, even though I also use half.com to find used books, and I use the library quite a bit as well.
I also buy off craigslist when I can, rather than buying something new. Today, for instance, I bought a desk. It is a really nice desk, actually, and I’m lucky to be in an area with an active craigslist – I know not all areas have such an active list, and buying things used is much much easier when nice used things are easy to find.
The man I bought the desk from noticed right away the RAN shirt I was wearing. Turns out he works for a company that essentially does sustainability consulting for huge corporations. Like…Walmart. He saw the look on my face, and started laughing. He knew exactly what I was thinking, and we ended up having an interesting conversation. He talked about what his company does to get the big execs at places like Walmart to sit down and talk to the environmental groups, like RAN, and see what they can do to improve. He’s helping teach these big exploitative companies that the better they are from the start in protecting the environment, the better they are overall. Image, of course, but also from a cost perspective. It always comes down to that.
I’m not sure what I feel about it, overall. I think what he’s doing is important – he’s helping people to look at the environment in a way they might never have done on their own, and that’s important. I think there is a deeper more serious problem, and it has to do with exploitation. Of the earth, of the people. Is Walmart going to stop selling massive quantities of new cheap stuff?
No, of course they are not, they are only going to try to sell more. That’s what they do, that’s their business.
And I have a problem with that – if nothing else, the earth can not sustain that consumption indefinitely. The social aspects are legendary as well, of course.
Still, it was an interesting conversation, and an interesting business that this man works for.
I was also able to talk to him about SHAC and animal testing. He had a really hard time imagining how they were convicted of terrorism, without having ever committed a crime. It is indeed a mystery, right up until you realize they were driving HLS to bankruptcy and had their trial in that Land of BigPharm, which is also known as New Jersey.
It was amazing to find someone with whom I agreed on so many levels, just by buying a desk from craigslist.