Two things have become monumental in this thinking. The first is Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Springs, published in 1960s. Maybe you’ve read it, or heard of it, or maybe you have no idea what it is. But the important piece of history we can all take away from Silent Springs is that our planet is not indestructible, and in fact our industrial consumer lives (and just about all economic activity since the 1850s and the invention of coal fired engines) are seriously punching holes in a balanced world, or, in the science world what is called, the ecosystem. Carson reminds us about simple pleasures of life on this Earth, like bird songs and clean water, and how we had almost forgotten that these were here before our silver screens and automobiles–that this natural world is not a human fabrication, but an intricate web of interaction over billions of years from the largest to smallest things on this planet: From sperm whales to nitrogen atmospheric atoms, these things have a relationship with one another, even if it is a second cousin once removed relationship. Nonetheless, they are all joined, and the thing that joins them is the location we all live in: Earth.
It’s hard for us to image, even in the rapid communication sharing age, how large the world is and yet it is all connected. Today, one in ever three people that follow you on Twitter is from another country. Things were a lot simpler when we thought the Earth was flat, and traveling 10 miles from the place you were born was comparable to an epic journey. Yet, the second important moment was that once we were able to see our Earth from space, the illuminated blue, green and white sphere, literally floating in darkness, we certainly saw our place in it differently. Taken December 24, 1968, by Apollo 8, “Earthrise” was the first color image of the Earth taken by human beings. But, why does this matter for ‘environmentalism’ and still, why should we care?
Because even today, sometimes our thinking is still small. Few people walk into a superstore and think about all the products, where they came from, how they were made, what else it took to make them and bring them all together in one place. It’s a lot to think about! And the ‘average’ consumer, is thinking about a dozen other things that relate only to them and their immediate reality. We are all creatures of survival, so it’s no wonder we are often only think about those immediate pressures. But environmental-, sustainable-, eco-friendly- (call it what you will) thinking, is about our survival. What is different is that it is about our survival, not only as individuals but, as a community of individuals. We too are all connected, just like the sperm whale and nitrogen atoms, and the sooner we can grasp this concept, the sooner we can see that asking these questions when we walk into a superstore is exactly what we need to be doing.
Coming soon: Let’s take a step back: why care about sustainability and fashion? Part II: A look into making products