Enough Yet?

The hot Indian sun beamed down on my forehead, I wore sunglasses to shield me from the sizzling light and no shirt.  I lay on my crash pad, waiting patiently for the boat to arrive, the boat to Hampi.  I sat and watched dozens of family’s walk up to the edge of the river.  They bathed,  drank and cooled off, I was startled.  This water was thick and greasy like Cambells Soup.  But hey, they were adults, they could make decisions for themselves, I shrugged it off.  Until I watched a mother gathering the toxic river water and feeding it to her infant son.  The small boy drinking the whole cup down, trusting his family, craving nutrients.  There weren’t any.  I saw everything floating in this water.  EVERYTHING and I could barely wade through it, let alone swim in it or drink it.  I heard a stat that said nearly 90% of Indian people live with Giardia their whole lives.  It doesn’t surprise me.  There are too many people, and not enough systems in place to support them.  Everything is overflowing, the rivers, the streets, the toilets.  Not to say there aren’t nice places to visit, there are, but still, do you drink the water?

This was a choice I had to face in India, and I bought bottled water everyday.  It made me sick to my stomach, nearly as much as the poisonous river could have.  When I asked about recycling these bottles one local boy grabbed it from me and threw it to the edge of the river.  I asked him where it goes, he shrugged and waved his hand and said “AWAY!”.  Away from where?  Here?   This is what we as people have reduced ourselves to, throwing things away from ‘here’.  But don’t be fooled, it always comes back.  Every single action you make, has a reaction, can’t FORGET that, and it may come back to land in your living room one day.

At the camp site I stayed at, we continued to buy water, when I asked the kind hostess Sharmilla if she could switch to a filter system, she told me that if she installed a filter, the mob would destroy her business and ultimately her life.  The MOB controls the people, and they make too much money selling bottled water to fat, greedy tourists like myself.   When people ask me if I want to go back to India, I tell them yes, I tell them it was the most amazing country I’ve ever been to, but then deep inside my heart sinks and I wonder if I’ll ever board a plane for India again.  We say we want to save the world, we want to cause the least amount of harm, but then we jump on planes and fly across the world to drink bottled water?  How, in any way is this good?  or sustainable?   We are the cause, ME, YOU, HIM and HER.  Everyone.  And we need to ask ourselves when it stops?  Maybe never, maybe one day it will be oure great great grandchildren feeding from a cup of spoiled rotten and contaminated water.  I am an optimist at heart, but honestly, if we don’t start to change the way we live right now, we are all going to hell in a handbasket.  We need to stop using so much plastic,  stop supporting the manufacturers who make them, start building our furniture out of wood instead of buying all that plastic SHIT from Ikea.  Stop being so lazy, uncreative and think about every action we make.  By joining your local community you’re joing the global one too.  The next time you feel thirsty, ask yourself this question, – What’s more important, the Economy or the Environment?

I realize this post is a bit negative, but it’s the harsh reality, and I don’t mean to sound preachy, I HATE preachers,  but, if working with my sponsors has taught me anything, it’s to ask questions, express my concerns, and work together to make things better.  Change is the only constant, and we need to roll with these changes to improve the quality of our life and the lives beyond,  as our needs begin to change, our products need to reflect that.  Here is my favorite quote this month.  Read it carefully.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” —  Margaret Mead

With that being said, the email that inspired this post and the video that followed.

Well. Happy Thusday.

This should depress even the staunchest heart.  Once again, I weep for what we do to this planet.  I thought I was morose before this, but now, I’m just sad and angry.

Knut

  • joe

    Sonnie,

    Ever thought to consider that some might think of you as a climbing evangelist?

    …so if your post sounds preachy…it probably is. Preach it, preacher man.

    Peace,
    Joe

  • Tracy

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/05/ftf-ellis-1/

    would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this opinion piece also on the current state of the planet

  • Interesting post about conditions in India, and thanks Sonnie for taking the time to bring our attention to it…

    The Margaret Mead quote is really powerful 😀

    Tracy’s linked wired article was also an interesting flipside to it for me, demonstrating how humanity is in full control, and fully responsible for what our environment is like, which kind of ties into what George Carlin (rest in peace) says in his stand-up.

    I’ve always loved Carlin’s routine on saving the planet, even if it is a little overboard and easy to take out of context 😉 His key point is to focus on people, and people’s principles. He suggests that we are only wiping OURSELVES out, and that the planet itself is part of a fully sustainable system. “The planet is fine, the PEOPLE, are f*cked…”

    Mad love 😀

    Carlin’s Bit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eScDfYzMEEw

  • Charlie

    Recycling is not the answer – never has, never will be. Have you ever followed your recycling from your ‘blue bin’ to the processes that supposedly recycle it into ‘new’ items? Well, not all of it does actually get ‘recycled’. Not everything has another use after we are done with it. A lot of materials are exported to companies in the developing world for recyclng – they end up taking what is of value and landfilling the rest, assuming they have landfills, which would not meet N. American standards. Computers are the worse expample of this.

    Even sending your scraps down the garburator do not solve anything. The solids just end up being taken out of the sewer and sent to the landfill. You would be much better off having a composter in your backyard or even in your apartment and use the compost for flowers and plants.

    We really need to change the way we live our lives on a day-to-day basis. If we don’t, the planet is going to do it for us and we won’t have any say in the matter, because George Carlin was right, the planet will survive in one form or another.

    If every single person in N. America changed the way they live and impact the planet, we would be so much better off. Be the change you want to see in the world, as you cannot change the world only yourself.

  • Check out this link:

    http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php?id=7

    Looking at our consumption from this perspective is depressing.

  • Philly Cheese

    Word Charlie. Like William McDonough states in his book “Cradle to Cradle: Rethinking the way we make things” we need to have waste = food. For those who want to know more you can check out his TED talk here:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/william_mcdonough_on_cradle_to_cradle_design.html

    Way to go with the Gandhi quote too. Despite all its pestilence and human tragedy, I love India and I would go back in a flash.

  • Great post Sonnie.
    I actually went through a very similar situation while in Hampi myself last October. I know I have come to the conclusion that I won’t be going back there anytime soon as I don’t feel like I’m making any benefit from my presence.
    I will say I’ve seen hope. Amazingly in of all places, I’m down the road from Aspen in Carbondale, Colorado right now. O.k. I’m shocked by the sheer waste (does everyone need a pick-up to drive to the mall?!?!) but there’s a core bunch of people here making small in-roads in their own lifestyle habits. Smaller cars, buying local food, concerns over how to reduce their waste (both power and rubbish). Like your quote says, if small groups start like this, it’s a step in the right direction.
    Keep up the great posts.

  • Mike Sampson

    Sonnie,

    I wouldn’t worry about being “preachy”; it’s all about the style of your expression. Regular people going about their lives–at a progressive level–should probably show by example, rather than give advice, to prevent stepping on another’s boundaries.

    An individual who has worked to achieve a high level of exposure (pro athlete), is in a position to use that power to communicate to a large number of people; a much bigger audience than the regular guy/girl, and should maximize that ability, in my opinion. It’s for the benefit of the Earth after all.

    Stay vigilant up and down.

  • Hey Sonnie. I super appreciate this post. I think it is vital that ‘me, you, him, her’ are constantly reminded of life and situations outside of our relatively comfy existence. Everytime I am abroad in a 3rd world country, the reverse culture shock is the worst part returning: trying to figure out a way to infuse villages in Mexico or India for you in my day to day actions is incredibly difficult. Something I think I will work on for the rest of my life – and heck – I think it is better for it to be a struggle than not. If I am too comfortable, then I am being complacent, lazy and indifferent about the world which is just about THE WORST option. Oh man, I HATE indifference!

    Here are 2 ways I have found to reuse and buy locally even living in a huge city like Chicago.
    1. CSAs – Community Assisted Agriculture. This is SO cool – you actually buy a share in the produce of a local farm and weekly or biweekly, you can choose, you go and pick up your bag. Some require some volunteer, like helping with unloading the truck once or something like that. It is also cool b.c you get to hang around the other people supporting the same farm and discuss some recipes of how to use the different vegetables or fruit. SO rad. http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
    2. Terracyle – this company is awesome! They reuse everything and make it into something new, and sell to Home Depot, OfficeMax, Target, you name it. So for the dude against recycling a couple comments up, this company’s for you. Also Tom, the CEO prices everything at a reasonable price so that regular consumers can afford it. I get so mad when I see a recycled material bag for $200. Really? That’s ridiculous. Check it out. He also just got a new show on national geographic called Garbage Moguls that chronicles how they go from trash to cash with worm poop, old oreo wrappers, etc. http://www.terracycle.net/