Civic education is passed on from our parents. We were taught early on that we shouldn't be throwing trash out of the car window and that litter belonged in a bin. There was a car bag in the family car whenever we were on a road trip. My parents were good at repurposing and sometimes up-cycling items. But it didn't go beyond these simple actions. The environmental awareness I acquired was consciously tackled at school in Germany. I was maybe 13 when one of our given exercises was to calculate how much a turned-off yet plugged to the socket TV set would consume in electricity per year. The number was not huge per se. This was an eye-opener to control bills. To me, it was about waste and inefficiency in using the energy that is created from various resources. I remember that July month when I went back home for summer break: I was walking behind everyone in the household and turning off lights. To the point where my father asked me to stop it, because clicking lamps on and off can shorten their lifespan. I was confused but listened to dad’s argument. He spoke out of experience. Additionally, back then, it was not common to have LED bulbs in Lebanese homes. Besides, with the frequent power shortages, I'm not sure which was more economic anyway.
Fast forward to adulthood. I am based in the Philippines and running my own company. I am still conscious that our generators shouldn't be running day and night. Not only because of the financial impact on my company but also for environmental considerations. And to crown my interest in helping the community on that level, I decided one of our CSR (corporate social responsibility) actions would be to plant mangroves. Why mangroves? This tropical tree helps avoid coastal erosion, improves the water quality, and provides habitat to several types of fish and shellfish. It was a day out for the whole company who enjoyed planting as many mangrove shrubs as the Ministry accepted to give us. I am happy to say that I kept checking on our plants even after I left the Philippines. A decade on, most of them were well-grown and had survived storms that struck the area 😊 I have to say that in the Philippines one cannot but become aware of the Environment from the signages on the hiking trails to the relationship of the Filipinos with Mother Nature. I was more than once reminded that the local culture considers that we are part of the earth and it is part of us. How beautiful is that?
Some quotes about the environment:
The environment is where we all meet, where we all have a mutual interest, it is the one thing all of us share - Lady Bird Johnson
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world - John Muir
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed - Mahatma Gandhi
I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds, and the environment - Pat Buckley
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect - Aldo Leopold
If we do not permit the Earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food either - Joseph Wood Krutch
He that plants trees loves others besides himself - Thomas Fuller
I was more than once asked why I bother sorting my trash in Lebanon, where most end up in landfills with no regard to nature or the environment. My philosophy is that I will do my part, no matter how small. It doesn't matter what others think or do. I sold my big 4x4 and replaced it with a newer small sedan. The purpose of a vehicle is to get me from point A to point B safely. There was no need for an SUV in the city of Beirut! I reduced my daily showers to only 2. This one was a harder measure to keep but unless dirty, there was no need to squander water as a natural resource and drain more chemicals into the soil. That reusable green bag in the picture I used to always keep in my car when I lived in the Philippines more than 15 years ago. I still use it today for grocery shopping! The list of small acts is long. My point is that any individual can choose to be kind to the planet, and it really isn't that much of an effort...