Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saving the World

There are many approaches that people use to act environmentally friendly or to advocate for environmental issues. There are lawyers who fight for environmental justice in courts; there are environmental educators who focus on instilling environmental ideals in children; there are "lifestylers" who employ environmentally friendly habits in their daily lives; and there are environmental organizers and activists. There are many other approaches but these are certainly some of the most commonly used ones. So, the question becomes: Is there a best way?

Intuitively, it seems to me that "it depends" or "both" is the unavoidable conclusion. Largely, it depends on the issue you are dealing with and feasibility of achieving particular goals. I will use recycling as an example. Environmental educators have the opportunity to make a big impact on children and their future recycling habits. If kids grow up recycling as part of their everyday routine, it will not feel so difficult to continue throughout their lives. They may become lifestylers who recycle for the rest of their lives. 

Current lifestylers may be recycling effectively and that is commendable but they are not necessarily influencing other people to recycle. Organizers, however, may create campaigns to put pressure on local and state governments to ensure recycling through government programs and funding. If recycling is available and mandatory, whether citizens are lifestylers or not, they are obligated to by law. Even more importantly, it is obvious to recycle because it convenient and services are readily available. 

In this case, it seems that the organizers and activists that put pressure on government officials to make change are the most effective but it is possible to see that different issues would be dealt with effectively by other approaches. So, even the "it depends" answer seems like the easy way out, it is actually the most practical way of dealing with diversity of environmental problems that our country and our world faces every day. 

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