Written By: Selena Doner
What is trending in the Canadian culture today is usually some form of slipper-boot hybrid, an obsessive craze for some British boy band or maybe another television series based on a family of hillbillies. Certain kinds of fashion movements and music discoveries typically take the stage in our Western society, and that is the way it has been for generations. However, the past couple years have added a new “trend” to the public conversation: environmentalism.
“Going green,” as many call it, has exploded onto the scene and captured the attention of the adolescent world. The environmental movement was awakened in the 1970s when certain people, usually referred to as “hippies,” began to take a deep interest in the natural world. Of course this was sparked by the growing destruction of forests, discovering what a powerful pesticide called DDT truly did and leading green-thinker Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. Earth Day was founded, as well as numerous organizations that are still making a difference to this day, such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace. For a while, though, saving the planet became a task for the “treehuggers” and was put on the backburner of the society who would much rather learn how to dress like Kurt Cobain or spend two months’ worth of allowance on Michael Jordan sneakers.
However, in 2006 when the former United States Vice President Al Gore burst onto the scene with a shocking slideshow, heads were indeed turned. The film An Inconvenient Truth, in which Gore shares information about the planet to educate viewers about climate change and global warming, is the documentary that is said to have sparked the environmental movement back into public concern. These concerns became more real with the release of the fictional apocalyptic film, The Day After Tomorrow. The fight for the ozone returned with a huge following, from kids toting plastic bags filled with garbage to thousands protesting against factory emissions.
Sadly, the flame that was relit began to dim again as more current issues took over, such as Britney Spears’s shaved head and Paris Hilton’s sex tape. The environmental movement was still happening, but it had been deflated from the urgent and passionate movement it once was and flattened into a faded concept of environmentalism that involved “Save the Earth” buttons and “I Love Recycling” t-shirts. Certain things like separating your recycling and carpooling that were considered only the first steps to changing things became the only efforts some made. Many would say doing one small thing to help the Earth makes a difference. It would be more accurate to suggest that doing small things repeatedly is where real change lies. This means a real commitment to environmentalism from everyone, and the movement needs a good push from those claiming to be “green.”
“Going green” has become more of a fad than a movement in Western society today. People would say being “into environmentalism” would entail buying organic groceries, only drinking fair trade coffee and owning a Hybrid vehicle. These of course are all things considered positive and would be supported by many environmentalists, as long as one commits and understands what they are doing. For example, one could purchase chicken or milk that is labelled organic with the romantic idea of chickens roaming free of cages and cows being gently hand-milked when in fact organic can mean only a difference in price (usually higher) and additives. Why would you spend more money on something you probably know next to nothing about? The same reason people pay more for “better quality clothing” made by enslaved children: it’s fashionable.
These buzzwords, “fair trade,” “organic,” “vegan,” are heard throughout many young peoples’ social circles today, and one place they float around is Redeemer University College. As a student at Redeemer, you would hear all about creation care in your classes and spot the massive solar panels on the roof. You would enjoy a fair trade coffee from William’s and listen to people discuss how they made vegan cookies on the weekend. All of these things have the makings of an environmentally conscious school, but what difference is being made in the long run? Redeemer has yet to help plant an urban garden, participate in pipe watch or actively clean up a littered area. These may be all big steps toward a “greener” school, but even promoting awareness of current environmental issues would be more than what is being done. As Christians, it is our obligation to care for creation, and what is being done at Redeemer and all over the country is more of a care for how it looks to have an environmental lifestyle rather than a desire to actually participate.