This letter originally went out to our GEA Philippines Trainer Network on January 3rd, 2019.
As we move into the new year, I want to share one of the struggles that I have had to deal with personally over the last few years as an ecobrick leader.
Ani and I get tons of requests to collaborate from folks all over. We hear of all sorts of ideas and initiatives. Many look like they might be in resonance with ecobricks.
However, just because a company, a person, or a group says that they are concerned about the environment, that they want to recycle, or ban plastic, doesn’t not mean that they are working on the same principles as the ecobrick movement.
Alas many are actually non-resonant, poorly thought out ideas wrapped in good intentions and a lot of words like ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ and ‘recycle’ and ‘eco’. In fact, those exact words are big flags for me these days.
How to respond? Do we critique? Do we court? Do we work with them? I have struggled with this a lot.
It is an issue that you guys are going to be faced with more and more as Filipino society becomes more and more conscious of the ecological calamities around us. As ecobricks become more and more mainstream, people, companies and organizations are all going to jump on the ‘eco’ band wagon.
When we see crazy BS being done in the name of ‘saving the planet’ we are often very tempted to respond critically. When a big event contacts us and asks us to be part, likewise we are tempted.
However, I have come to see that neither is worth our energy. Let me put that differently: our energy can be much more effectively put to use just keeping on keeping– being “the change that we want to see”.
Perhaps most import though is the risk to the ecobrick movement. We mustn’t forget that plastic, waste management and recycling are massive industries controlled by dark forces. The longer our movement can stay off their radar and not incur their wrath and oppression, the better for us and the planet. My observation is that this risk to yourselves and the movement, even if very very small, is never going to be worth the minor gains that come from critique or courtship.
The Plastic Age is something we are all in together, like it or not. The reason the ecobrick movement spreads so far and fast is because of this fundamental non-judgement of lifestyle and of plastic. In the end, the balloon drop, insane as it is, isn’t any less insane the shop down the road from you still using plastic bags, your friend who puts all her plastic and organics in the same bin, and let’s not forget, that straw you had to use last week at the restaurant.
As the year begins, you guys are going to be contacted by more media, schools, government, and companies than ever before. Likewise you will hear of more crazy ideas and projects than ever before. It hasn’t been easy, and I haven’t succeeded very well myself, but my personal approach is to…
…tend my garden.
Literally: My garden, my home, my personal example. It’s easy for you to get distracted in all the stuff that is happening, all that you can do, but of utmost importance and consequence is your own personal example. Your own plastic. Your own ecobricking. Your own example. Your own garden.
I don’t know about you, but personally my garden still has a long way to go. The passion fruit vine is going crazy right now and my camote needs some help to vanquish the weeds and my tomatoes… well they seem to have disappeared entirely!
Let’s remember the vision here. The Global Ecobrick Alliance isn’t about ecobricks. It’s about raising ecological consciousness and personally embodying the principles of the movement. Our goal is in effect that one day there is no more need for us as trainers or as a movement. That one day everyone knows how to ecobrick and even better, that there is no more trash, waste or pollution for us to worry about it.
Onwards 2019! 🙂