Here is a question that crossed my mind the other day: What type of person is worst for the environment?
The person who knows nothing about the environment; they have never taken a class on protecting our natural resources, nor do they care. They live their life in complete ignorance, without a care in the world.
Or. . .
The person who knows a great deal about the impact their decisions make on the environment, and still chooses to live their life without making any changes.
Both types of people hurt our planet equally.
With this being said, to which person do we point our figure?
At first glance, I would want to say that the person who knows a great deal about their impact on the environment is to blame. These people should understand the harm they are doing, and with this knowledge, they continue to act like nothing is happening.
Then I started to tip my judgment to the other type of person. If they don’t know what they are doing wrong, they will never be able to fix their habits and behaviors.
As I sat down and really thought about this, I realized that the second group of people can be taught. Through education they have the opportunity to change and adjust their behaviors. These people are not failing in the system, rather the system has failed them.
In my opinion, those people who have the knowledge and do nothing are really the ones to blame. They have an obligation to teach, and should act as they are aware of the problems this world is facing and do nothing.
Upon this conclusion, I looked into the mirror and realized that I am part of the problem. I understand the impacts, yet I have done so very little to change. For example, here I am in France going to school. My behaviors and actions are not really aligned with the values and morals.
Okay, yes I do a lot of good things like recycling, riding my bike to work (sometimes), purchase local products. But, do the means justify the ends? My footprint is still something like 4 earths. What right do I have telling others what they should do, when I can’t even do it myself?
In many ways it would be easier to facilitate a major change if the government put some sort of regulation on consumption behaviors. Now, I understand that this would never happen. But imagine if it did?
Your account would have, let’s say, 100 environmental credits each year. Every time you bought something, a small fraction of that balance would deplete that year. The larger the impact on the environment, the great percentage of those 100 credits would go down. Companies would have an incentive to produce products that have less of an impact on the environment. People don’t want to waste their points, thus, those products with less impact would have a competitive advantage. If you break your “credit” bank, you pay a tax on the credits you exceed.
For me, having something like this would be a motivator, and I think it would be a driver for industry change.