08/31/2021 I translated this blog post from french myself. I hope it’s readable enough. Good luck with that too !
With that kind of title, if you come to read this, you should really get back to work! Or you have given up all hope of life on earth. Then, you’ve come to the right place (after reading this, you should get back to work though!)
Let’s go. Straight to the point: I have a little project that is close to my heart: I’d like to save the world!
Well, yes, I know. I’ve always had great ambitions. I always start projects that I never finish because they’re so much bigger than me. And ecology is my new thing.
Yes. We already hear that everywhere. What is the use of rehashing this perpetual subject. Already treated, debated millions of times, it only adds a small layer of guilt to our already complicated daily life. What am I able to add to the Ecology with a capital E ? (In my natural language, it’s capital É with an accent impossible to type on any existing keyboard. French is so much fun !). Well actually, probably not much.
Ha? I don’t understand where he is going with this
Come on, I’ll give you a little background first (in short, I’ll tell you a bit about my life ): I’m 34 years old, I work in IT and my charming wife has helped me a lot in the making of two beautiful children.
(automatic) I’ve aged since this article. Today I’m 38 years old.
I’ve been interested in ecology for more than ten years now, but, for a long time, in a hypocritical or silly way. My view of things was as follows:
If it costs me less and / or it doesn’t take me too long, I don’t mind making an effort for the planet.
This state of mind had its limits. For the less. It often happened to me to make trips by bike because I didn’t want to pay for gasoline, to turn off the heating to avoid consume (pay) too much electricity, to reduce my water consumption to gain 2 € per month, or to take out my trash as little as possible. All of this while convincing myself that I was doing it for the planet too. But it was often awkward, even counterproductive. To avoid having to pay for a trash removal, I compressed all my packaging into each other. But you really shouldn’t do that. Much of my trash was probably not recycled because of me.
My ecological awareness ended there. I didn’t feel guilty. I was just doing like everyone else and had no problem with it. I didn’t feel there was any problem. And that’s why I think I was hypocritical. In fact, I didn’t care much. I was reliefed to see my sacrifices being the object of a double interest: economic and ecological. But my first interest was economic. My first interest was my own person and my comfort.
9 years ago I had a son. His birth did not change my outlook on this. On the other hand, being a father has become something very important to me. I attach a lot of importance to what he thinks, what he wants, what he will want, what scares him, what makes him happy, what he will become, and everything he is in general.
It’s long, isn’t it? What was this article about ?
With his mother, we chose for him the best godfathers and godmothers we found so that they bring him good values through his life. His godfather, a very close friend of our little family, has always been very sincerely concerned about the environment. For example, he chose his places so that he could do everything by bike. He was careful with his purchases, his food, and the efforts that I had always found funny and unnecessary. Commendable, but unnecessary. A dedication for nothing in return. A thousand miles from what I was able to understand at the time. When asked about the choices he made, he patiently explained them without ever trying to convince. He was simply explaining that he was careful. Again, I found it commendable, but unnecessary.
Anyway, my little boy received from his godfather some ideas to think about the world around him. Through conversations, books, advice, time spent with him. As always, to my eyes: commendable, but unnecessary.
One day, I found my 6 year old boy in the bathroom talking to himself on the tiled floor. Collapsed and in tears. I took him in my arms without being able to console him. He was appalled to see the harm that Man was doing to the planet. He said he could feel the pain of the trees, the pain of the ocean. He was suffering for it. He had the feeling of being part of the problem while being helpless.
It was around this time that my outlook started to change.
Were there not only 10 tips to read?
That day, I took a slap in the fatherhood. I was completely oblivious of the look my boy was starting to cast on the world. For the first time, I wanted to make an effort. For him. To console him. So that he should never be sad. There’s absolutly no way my little boy should be unhappy. And I’m not talking about a little effort. I wanted to save his world. And even though I’m only a billionth of the source of the problem, I had to correct my billionth of responsibility.
Until then, I heard. after that, I listened.
In fact, I had already read and re-read his books with him. I had already watched and re-watched documentaries on TV. Like everyone. We’re all bombarded with this kind of ecological alert. I believe that through my life I had ended up developing a filter. Since I was a teenager, we’ve heard it everywhere, but paradoxically, we don’t see anyone moving. So, quite naturally, we repeat to ourselves that there’s nothing to do, that’s not important and we can put the problem aside. If we do exactly like everyone else, we’re doing the right thing, right? When I saw “Let’s reduce our waste, this is urgent” ads on TV, I never felt concerned. It was just an ad like any other. When I saw manifestations against GMOs or against the pollution of rivers and oceans, it was for me manifestations that concerned me as little as those of the railway or education (yes I live in France) It was just background noise that I had learned to ignore. A tinnitus that can only be heard in silence. That day, in the bathroom, the silence had just been brutally made by his tears rolling on my shoulder.
Rho ‘show off’, metaphors and everything …
From there, I had to face an inner conflict between my self who doesn’t care and my other self who wants to protect his son at all costs. It was war.
Many could attest, I’m a real mule. And there I had become a hydra with two mule heads. It was pretty disgusting. I had to find arguments to convince my pre-parental-shock-self, every time he tried to knock my motivation down with that kind of sentences:
that kind of sentences #1
“I can’t see any payback”
… he said to me, that naughty guy! He only cares about him, this self! … about me, his self? about self, his me? … Whatever. I replied that it was no longer about me, but Us with a capital U (without an accent this time, it’s easier).
Yes, the smallest sacrifice that we make will have repercussions on humanity as a whole. Today’s, but also tomorrow’s.
I’ve a bad feeling that it will be longer than it seems.
I think it’s selfish to make an effort only if it has repercussions on one’s own and direct environment. Plus, in reality, each effort is almost always profitable for oneself, via collateral or indirect benefits which are often imperceptible at first glance but very concrete in the long term.
A first example: We are trying as much as possible to no longer use single-use plastic and packaging at all. A decision which is very simple to state but which involves a lot of changes, sacrifices and efforts. For our food, in particular, no more yoghurts, ham packs, bacon packs, sweets, meat packs, pre-washed salads, meals ready to eat, frozen packs, fast food, etc.
It looks terrible listed like that. It was obviously complicated to set up. It happened very gradually, and we are always trying to do better. But despite everything, it brought us much more as individuals, than what it cost us: We meet and befriend with local producers for all our food needs (milk, cheese, vegetables, fruits, etc.). They often are wonderful people, passionate and very commercial, ready to give you discounts at the first opportunity as soon as they see your fidelity, offer you apples to make compotes, jars of cottage cheese to taste. We now exchange much more with our neighbors with whom we share some of our trips to producers, with whom we exchange the products from our gardens. It brings a very localized synergy which is priceless in my opinion. We eat much healthier than ever. Almost exclusively organic. It seems like every producer who sell directly to the consumer is organic. So it helps. Fruits and vegetables, whereas before that, we never bought fruits. Home-made, children love pancakes for breakfast, etc.
A second example: As long as a trip does not take more than 20 additional minutes by bike, then I take the bike. So, every day, I take my youngest to his nanny by bike a few kilometers from home. The road is steep, the bike+kid is heavy. The first few times, I almost passed out under the weight of my total lack of endurance. Today, I go up the road effortlessly. The baby is delighted with his little daily trip. It force us to breathe some fresh air. It forces me to decompress a bit, to relax. It’s also less dangerous for others. (Yes, I’m a public danger on the road). It’s obviously less expensive in gasoline and in maintenance.
I can list you many more advantages than constraints. You just have to be patient, not be discouraged and take the time to detect the positive influence of each renunciation.
that kind of sentences #2
“Nobody does anything, why should I”
Arg, this one was hard to counter. Even today, it gives me a hard time. What could be more disheartening than seeing plastic cups, cigarette packs, cans, condoms, toys, food wrappers in the grass when you walk in the morning. To see, in the next line at the supermarket, 200 yogurts, packets of candy, plastic bottles. We feel surrounded by people who just don’t care. And that’s where we often want to give up. “What’s the use of doing all this. In a minute, Mr. Dontgivashit pollutes more than we’ve saved in a month.”
It must remember everyday that a minority of people are truly fuck-it extremists. The 90–10 rule applies very well here: 10% of the population causes 90% of what is seen the most. This percentage will eventually be reduced, along with the consequences that go with it. We must be actively patient.
You don’t need to be angry to each other. They are us. The others are future or past versions of us. Some have already realized what I don’t see yet and are probably angry when they see me doing the wrong thing. On the contrary, we must educate each other. To elevate each other out rather than blaming those who are a little behind.
that kind of sentences #3
“We’re not the ones who should take actions, but [Insert here a third party: politicians; industrialists; traders; peasants, administrations; cows; landfills; others; etc.]”
… According to the lazy side of my brain. Why would it be up to me to take an active step to recycle my glass bottles? Why the gouvernment isn’t setting up a deposit system? Why manufacturers don’t sell all their products in bulk or reusable packs, returnable boxes? Why supermarkets aren’t eradicating plastic packaging for good?
I guess the answer is simple. It’s because of us. As long as there’s a market for food-in-plastic, manufacturers will continue to sell it. As long as customers don’t come with their own boxes when they shop, supermarkets will continue to offer single-use boxes for customers.
Their goal is above all to satisfy their customers, to keep them coming and to continue to sell. If consumers find themselves embarrassed in their purchasing process, they will simply prefer a more practical supermarket.
The competition is fierce. It’s hard for these companies to consider taking a risk to carry out an ecological action that is more effective than marketing.
If the gouvernment imposed global regulations on supermarkets, it should solve the competition problem, but it’s then the gouvernment that would take the blame for alienating its most modest citizens (or those in a hurry). Those who think they can’t make any effort because they already feel on the brink.
There’s no good solution. In any case, no global solution. The best we can do is to do our best each at our level and in the positions that suit us the most. Both traders and customers. The gouvernment as well as the citizens. The best we can do is trying to do.
that kind of sentences #4
“It’s too usefull, I can’t do without it”
Fighting a habit is complicated. Strangely, it’s always the bad ones that are the hardest to eradicate.
I was talking above about my rule for the bike. It took me a while to apply it respectfully, and even today, I easily make small exceptions because I’m in a hurry, because I have a little thing to carry, because it barely hot or barely cold. The car is usefull. It goes fast. It’s always ready to go without having to prepare anything. It can be used under any weather. It can be used in any outfit. We don’t need to take a shower afterwards. It’s not easy to sell my lazy brain a bike ride in the rain when such competition is waiting in the parking lot.
In reality, we can do without virtually everything. Today we manage very well to do without objects which will be invented in 100 years and which will nevertheless seem essential to our great-grandchildren.
A century ago, the car was not so essential. We managed to live without smartphones, plastic packaging, ready-to-wear, etc.
The real problem does not lie in these practical objects which now seem so inevitable that one is ready to use them at the detriment of the planet. The problem is, we’ve evolved with these objects for so long, that we don’t think we can do without them.
For our generation (1960-2000), it’s undoubtedly too late. The effort will be very or too important. We’ll have an inescapable feeling of frustration when we do without a usefull part of our life.
On the other hand, it’s up to us to get our children used to do without them. It will just be natural for them to do without. They will have grown up without. No frustration, no lack.
Hey! Where is my unicorn glitter? Have I been clickedbated ?
that kind of sentences #5
“This is going back to the Stone Age”
This echoes with the previous point. (I’m the king of the transition).
I’ve aways been a nerd. I’ve always been fascinated, admiring and hopeful about what the future, the big tech companies and developer communities can offer. I made a job out of it with passion.
Unfortunately, I know that these technologies are part of what causes our downfall.
I’m the first to want to change my phone every year, new computers, connected watches, connected cars, consoles, and other objects sometimes useful, sometimes fun but always accessory or replaceable.
This is a point on which I still have a lot of work to do. But I’m in the process of detoxification. I’m reducing my internet and mobile usage. I buy used products. And above all I try as much as possible to content myselft with what I have. I’ve kept my phone for 3 years, for example, and I’m still happy with it.
The urge is not always easy to fight, but ultimately, it has a liberating side to let the race for novelty happen without me.
On the other hand, I’m currently replacing my Internet and IT environment with less polluting solutions (Raspberry Pi), privacy-friendly (Google-free) and made with love by the OpenSource community (which I particularly like) . It’s a very long job that is done in very small steps and that I impose to the whole family. It may be the subject of a future article if no one throws stones at me after this one.
03/07/2021 The article arrived: Open Source apps that I use and why
that kind of sentences #6
“I don’t have time to it all. I got a life dude.”
I have been self-employed for a few years. My family, friends and even my clients will attest to this: I work all the time! I work too much. In fact, I’m always several months behind for everything I have to do. Both professionally and personally. I try to grab a few hours of entertainment a week. But it’s complicated.
Under these conditions, I could hardly imagine myself taking an hour to prepare a meal each week. Take an hour to travel by bike instead of 20 minutes by car. Take an hour to prepare meals for the whole family. Take an hour to take care of a garden. Take an hour to do something where no one is waiting on me. Take an hour for me.
Hard to add an additional stone in an already full pot.
Well actually, it’s okay.
I often made the mistake of summing the “wasted” time of every aspect of my life. In reality, it cannot be summed. It’s quite possible to bring together several elements at the same time while having the impression of enjoying your day. To don’t feel overwhelmed.
I felt like I didn’t have enough time for my children, time for myself, time to play sports. So that I can have a good time with the children taking care of the garden. I can make applesauce while listening to an audiobook. I can play sports by cycling to the nanny’s. And all of this without ever having the impression of chasing my life. On the contrary, the impression of taking advantage of it. A very simple life where everything fits together perfectly.
What could be more relaxing than peeling apples while hearing your children play.
And even shopping has become a pleasure. It got a lot longer than a simple drive, but it’s a nice time. A walk in small shops where people recognize you and chat with you. It’s calm and restful. Nothing to compare with a big supermarket on saturday morning.
I still work way too much. But at least everything else of my day is better and a lot more in line with my new values.
that kind of sentences #7
“Did you see how much organic costs?”
I have lived for a long time with very, very little money. When you count every cent, you can’t imagine spending more to get nothing in return. Nothing for oneself in any case.
Now that I have a normal salary, I have kept the habit of watching every cent that comes out of the family’s pocket. So when I saw that “organic” products were sometimes twice as expensive as those in supermarkets, it scared me a little.
I now have enough hindsight to give you some figures.
To be completely transparent. here’s the average monthly amount of our “grocery budget”. I include everything we eat, including restaurants, pastries, etc. But also everything we consume on a daily basis, such as household products, hygiene, diapers, animal food, etc.
In 2015: 145 € / week.
in 2019: 170 € / week.
The real difference between these two dates is that we have one more habitant in the house. And I think he’s a lot more responsible for the increase than is our switch to organic. (If you could see him eat, you wouldn’t even try to argue)
170 € / person / month (excluding animals) while we eat exclusively organic and fresh products and we use organic and responsible products. It’s ultimately not much. We remain in the France average.
A basket of vegetables bought from the market gardener costs a few dozen euros and you have plenty of food to feed several people for a whole week.
that kind of sentences #8
“We’re not going to eat like rabbits, are we ?”
I’m not personally vegan. Not even a vegetarian. I like meat in general. And I prefer to ignore the animal killing part as much as possible when I eat.
It doesn’t cost much to reduce your meat consumption, to keep it for good occasions, to make sure it comes from an animal-friendly network (as much as a system that kills animals for eat them).
One or two slices of ham a week, and a steak every now and then, will be more than enough to satisfy the whole family.
On the other hand, I have no problem with the fact of feeding myself on what the animals produce (egg, milk, etc.) I simply take the time to select producers who respect their animals. I sometimes try to swap cow’s milk for plant-based milk in a recipe, but I’m not always happy with the result.
I’m optimistic that the complete substitution of meat and animal products will take place gradually and effortlessly. You just have to take the time to try new foods, new recipes and think about what you put on your plate.
I try to keep that in the back of my mind and be aware of what I’m eating. The change will operate on its own, naturally.
06/10/2023 … And I was right. It happend by itself. I have been officially vegan for 2 years. Now I just try to moderate myself.
that kind of sentences #9
“Anyway, it’s too late…”
We’re so screwed! I do think it’s too late for us. We’ll undoubtedly see very little of the impact of the efforts we are making. So what’s the point? We are surrounded by people who don’t care or who think that it’s useless. Everyone would have to get into it 100% so that we can see a result. And let’s be honest, that won’t happen. What can a handful of people do for billions? Why bother to restrict yourself when everyone around does not hesitate to make their life easier.
Often, anger, frustration and jealousy are the order of the day.
But again, my kids come to the rescue. There’s no way I can go to bed without at least trying to make things a little better. There’s no way that I’m more part of the problem than of the solution. It’s too late for us, but it’s only the beginning for them.
that kind of sentences #10
“The easiest way is stop having children!”
I once read that having children pollutes more than taking air travel all your life.
Isn’t it better then to enjoy your life, not to have children, to take plenty of plane trips. No child, no problem. Besides, there’s no real reason to save the planet if there’s no one to use it after us. (L.O.L) A question of dosage. It’s undoubtedly undesirable that a man, a swimming pools salesman, pro-Trump and racing cars collector, should have children. Chances are it’s just perpetuating his lifestyle and costing a bundle of air travel in the long run. On the other hand, isn’t there a chance that only one of our children can make airplanes completely non-polluting and thus cancel their own “air travel” budget. Or even cancel that of other children?
The problem is not the children. The only thing that really gives me hope is to imagine my children having other children who will grow up with the values that I will have tried to instill them through their lives. The result will be multiplied and perfected with each generation. We, adults, just have to push them in the right direction.
So, what’s the point of this blog post?
Lot of questions came to me as I wrote those lines: Who am I to give my opinion on this? Do I have a PhD in ecology? Am I doing better than the others? Do I think I’m better than others at some point I could give you advice? Are you gonna change your mind about me? Am I the most boring person ?
I’m convinced I’m doing the right thing, but I’m not sure I’m doing it right. Like a Jehovah’s Witness, I must pass a message for your own benefit!
I knew it ! He’s about to ask us for money …
This blog post exists because I have heard that the simplest way to protect the environment, the most accessible ecological act, and yet the most important, is to make people want to protect the environment. To plant seeds in heads. To multiply the members of our small organization. Our little army.
Several relatives told us that they found us inspiring, that we had made them want to try to consume better, to pollute less. It’s the best reward for our efforts and it’s also the most visible impact we’ve had so far. We ourselves were inspired to do better by seeing some others do.
And that’s the very essence of these lines. I share with you my motivation, hoping that it’s contagious. I share for those who, like my past-self, hear but don’t listen.
To resume my original question: What am I going to be able to bring to ecology with a capital E? Not much. But a little not-much multiplied by millions is a big something.
If you’ve got now even a small will to stop the carnage, talk about it, exchange your ideas, your tips, your dreams. Make those around you want to do something. Make them want to share their desire! Share by all means. Talk to your neighbors about planting trees. Argue with your family about the location of the garden. Post easy green phrases on Facebook and assign them to Gandhi. Post DIY photos on Insta. Tweet this article (Hell yeah). Become one more vlogger on YouTube.
It won’t cost you anything, and yet it will be a real first step!
For once, I understand that the project is much bigger than me. And that changes everything. The best way to do it, in my opinion, is to all get down to it together. (Credits. Fade to white. This is the moment, when we take each other’s hands in slow motion, heading towards the sunset on Michael Jackson’s “Heal the world”).
Thanks for taking the time to read me!
It was long for not much, wasn’t it ? Bah, I’ll share it anyway because I like unicorns
12/31/2020 I published this article in 2019 on my social networks. I had put it aside for the day when I will find a support that suits me. So here he is now on this blog since today.