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Submitted by lisamont2 on Thu, 4/26/2012, 4:12pm
More resources and thanks to IDP community and fellow bloggers for all I've learned this month!
These past four weeks, I've reviewed online resources that might help us do less harm to the earth and its inhabitants. Before ending with a list of websites for you to explore, it's worth emphasizing how little we know about the effects of our actions.
Remember a time when you thought you'd acted out of love or compassion, but someone got hurt – partly as a result of what you did. This wasn't necessarily your fault. We can't guarantee that kind actions will benefit others, or reduce harm. So many interdependent causes and conditions go into any situation that it's impossible to say that a single cause A produced effect B. There's no one-to-one correlation between cause and effect.
This doesn't mean that we should stop cultivating lovingkindness and compassionate action. It's simply a humbling reminder not to think we know more than we do.
As Ellen Scordato put it wisely in a comment on my Week 2 post, "The more I practice Responsible Consumption, the more I realize I can do, possibly, less harm but not no harm. It's my ego trip to think that I'll live here and now and harm no one by what I choose to purchase. … That's NOT a reason not to use my conscience when I buy, but it's humbling for me to realize that karma and cause and effect are WAY more complicated than I can untangle. I do the best I can and look at my intentions. This app sounds pretty great but even it is no match for the wild complexity of the chains of karma set in motion with a swipe of my debit card."
The image of swiping a debit card and unleashing wildly complex chains of karma resonated in my practice these past two weeks. While it's wonderful that researchers are studying the products we buy and their ingredients from resource extraction, through manufacture, use, and disposal, we would be wrong to think that these scientists can give us foolproof measurements of the suffering our purchases might lead to, or that this data could prevent us from doing harm. Harm-free consumption isn't possible in the world we live in.
Our entire system depends so heavily on fossil fuels that nearly all of us in the U.S. contribute to climate change in ways we can't avoid. I'm typing this on a laptop, plugged into an electric socket. Yesterday I did some research in the main branch of the New York Public Library, an enormous Beaux-Arts building that requires lots of fossil fuels to light and heat. Most of us rely on fossil fuels in our work, but we can't necessarily quit our jobs, or even convince our employers to switch to solar power. So we keep reproducing a harmful system behind our own backs and despite our intentions.
This is why we need radical systemic change. Responsible consumption is crucial, but it's not enough.
Image by José Manuel Suárez (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Here's a list of more online resources for Responsible Consumption. Please try them out and let us know what you think.
When you no longer love your stuff, give it away, sell it, or swap it. To give away your pink lawn flamingo, vintage bubble gum collection or anything else that’s legal and appropriate for all ages, find your local Freecycle group and get on the list: http://www.freecycle.org. Look up your city, state or country on Craig’s List. Click on “post to classifieds” or go to the “for sale” column to buy or barter.
Share resources and skills at http://www.justfortheloveofit.org/freeshare.
Swap, buy or sell used clothing at http://clothingswap.org.
Recycle your computer. Manufacturing a laptop requires about five times more fuel than making a car or refrigerator. When you buy a new computer, many manufacturers will recycle your old one for you. You can also find your local electronic recycler at http://www.ecyclingcentral.com.
Some of us are vegan or vegetarian, but since the widespread cultural phenomenon of People Eating Fish isn't going to change anytime soon, we can all support Monteray Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.
Calculate your carbon footprint at http://www.carbonfootprint.com/individuals.html.
Watch out for greenwashing.
Check out the issues surrounding biodegradable plastic:
We are on this journey as a community. Read all the Responsible Consumption posts and follow along as we examine our habits.
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