As the elections of 2008 passed, voters were exceedingly involved in the issue of improving the environmental standards of big business. This issue had made a quiet appearance on the ballots in years passed, yet during this election it seemed to come with a roaring fury. As a freshman in college, and first time voter, I was exposed to an array of hot button issues, and coming from one of the environmentally conscious schools, in a city that is teeming with a movement toward sustainable living, Portland, OR, issues surrounding the environment’s well being are exceedingly sensitive. Upholding progressive principles of concern for the earth may give me the label of a “granola,” but it has also given me the outlook to believe and challenge many issues that fall outside the public’s scope. One such issue is that of industrial transparency and waste accountability. I believe that if businesses were expected to be more public about their environmental policies, voters and interest groups would seize their power as consumers, and press for safer ecological standards for the conservation and preservation of surrounding environments and communities.
On nearly every block, on a daily basis, I pass representatives from Greenpeace, or a similar organization, preach to the commuting folk about the inherent responsibility citizens have to monitor the devastating environmental practices of big businesses. They offer examples such as the water pollution which bottled water companies infuse into the environment from processing plants, without much legal regulation toward the surrounding communities, and how damaging these policies are for rural areas that rely heavily on farming for local wealth. Although this sort of community outreach attracts attention to the issue, it is only the first step toward implementing stricter environmental policies.
Like all living beings, we are faced with the arduous task of taking responsibility for our actions toward the planet either directly, or indirectly. Though Earth seems to have a well established balance between ecosystems, our current, seemingly selfish actions of capitalistic consumerism are rapidly upsetting the increasingly fragile bionetwork. I feel as though there is no reason why we, as rational human beings, cannot take responsibility for our actions, and admit that although we may be technologically and socially advanced, we are not so privileged as to be caught in a cycle of using and wasting natural resources without consequence. No longer can we turn a blind eye to the wastefulness of industries, it is time for the common man to accelerate the momentum of change, and raise expectations of company accountability for the damage they are inflicting upon the planet that we all share.
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