Waste Not

Communicating environmental concerns: Let’s make some noise

Waste Not

We’ve reached the end of Waste Not. While I may have “fallen off the wagon” a bit over the past several weeks with an item or two tossed in the trash each day, there has been a continuous pattern throughout the articles. At the bottom of each, I usually inscribe advice for carrying out the week’s suggestions. More than often the advice has been to communicate.

This week, I’m interested in explaining what I mean by this somewhat vague area of communication. I am honing in on this because since the start of the column in September, there has been a dramatic difference in my concerns for the future of our environmental policy.

I’ve seen that a rhetoric of distrusting scientific fact doesn’t just linger in the dark corners of extremists commentaries anymore. Whether we will neglect or pontificate environmental concerns, time is of the essence. Direly so.

The first and most important point I’d like to stress is that it is not your responsibility to change the mind of a person who will not budge. Sometimes even our best best impression of Socrates fails to yield results.

Some folks do not wish to believe in fact. When it comes to people of this ilk, I urge you to stay healthy and avoid exuding that energy. Focus on people who are unsure when it comes to the issue.

From there, research recent facts. Stay up to date on our most pressing environmental concerns. Sites such as the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities’ Institute on the Environment, National Geographic’s page on the environment and even Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary “Before the Flood” will inform your language about the topic. Be prepared to explain the chronological weight of these crises.

Another method of communication is to immerse yourself in surrounding parks. Including others in hikes and exposing younger kids to a world they may not be familiar with can have a ripple effect; people often protect entities that are familiar to them.

Changing the language we use when addressing environmental concerns can take the human ego out of the situation. Oftentimes, elements of the environment are viewed as something that must be “conquered.” An example of this included the drastic decrease in prairie land and wildlife in our own Midwest.

Land is not something we can permanently own. We owe it the respect that comes with understanding how future generations and vegetation will be making it their home long after we leave our mark.

Changing our language from an image of “conquering” land to one of “respecting” the environment is an effective form of communication change.

Finally, and most importantly, we need to communicate with our political leaders. Writing letters to the editor, signing petitions and even showing up to talk with them in person all have the potential to send a message. While many of us may not have the ability to communicate with lawmaking (aka sway) with money, the voice we do have needs to be exercised.

If you are already active on this front, amplify.

Holding community leaders accountable creates change and I firmly believe my previous columns on voting with your dollar and weighing issues such as GMO vs. non-GMO balance equally with political efficacy.

Waste Not is ending but this platform of communication is only the first step I plan to take. Let’s roll up our sleeves and start talking.