This I Believe

Lara - Long Beach, California
Entered on May 21, 2007

I believe that it is utterly possible to dream our future.

As a child growing up in the South Bay, my idea of “normal” meant that it was 1 or 2 in the afternoon before one could see past the end of the cul-de-sac. Years later, I understood this to be smog, but as a child this was simply normal. Not good or bad; just the way things were. It wasn’t until many years later, after the Clean Air Act of 1990 had dramatically improved our skies, that I realized the ocean was just a short vista away.

As a young adult, I volunteered for the Sierra Club and discovered my passion for environmental issues. A master’s degree and 15 years of experience in the environmental consulting arena soon followed.

The questions I’ve asked myself over those 15 years are likely the same ones we all ask: How do I change the world for the better? How do I live my life in sync with my values?

Well, I’ve recently been reminded that none of this is as easy as it looks, or as hard.

On the homefront, my partner and I recently moved into our first home together. We installed solar lights and a solar fountain. We quickly figured out that geothermal won’t work (we lack the requisite 20 feet of open ground beneath the house) and the water heater isn’t located anywhere that would allow us to heat it with a solar blanket. We have the requisite energy star washer and dryer, and both drive hybrids. We want to add solar roofs, but worry about the three layers of roof already sagging slightly.

On Saturday, we did the weekly grocery shopping. We decided to be carbon-friendly in our choice of food items. Well, we mulled over whether to buy tomatoes (none of which were born anywhere closer than Mexico), whether the beets from France were offset by the local apples, and whether to buy the frozen tilapia (ok – so we’re doing the aquaculture fish, but this fish apparently rode here all the way from Minnesota, and not of it’s own volition). We talked about what farmer’s market to go to, and if we should miss church some Sundays so as not to miss the farmer’s market.

I believe that all choices, all the little steps, do add up. I recently heard a story about a family in Chapel Hill, NC who is trying to lower their “carbon footprint.” Among many other steps, the family’s church gave up CARBON for lent. For this family, it meant not using the family’s dryer. Making these small changes reduced their carbon footprint by almost half.

I believe that it is never too late to save the world. I believe that damage done can be counterweighted by small actions on the part of each of us. I believe not just our earth but our very souls are fed by such positive change. I believe that small changes roll – and gain speed, like a small pebble down a large mountain, until the speed of the movement becomes impossible to ignore. I believe that we can and will save our world. This I believe.