I was born six years before the first Earth day. Those were the years of Rachel Carson and John Coltrane. Our world was changing.
Sixteen years later I read Frances Moore Lappe’s Book Diet for a Small Planet and became a vegetarian. Not many of my friends were vegetarian and it became a running joke around my house and earned me the nickname “Rabbit.” I was gung-ho about environmentalism and would go into a long liturgy about it at a flick of a dime.
My uncle convinced me to cut up the soda pop plastic holders and never let go of balloons into the air. He emphasized that they ended up in the ocean where birds and fish found them, ate them and died.
One day when we were out on my uncle’s boat, I saw a deflated balloon floating on the surface of the water and was appalled at the idea of all the fish and birds dying because of people’s extravagances.
Since then I have worked for many environmental companies and now run Earthwise Design Consulting dedicated to creating healthy, green and beautiful spaces.
Would I have chosen this path, if it were not for the culture that I grew up in?
When my daughter was in kindergarten she would call me around lunch time and say she wanted to come home because she was sick. After a little investigation I found out that her school was renovating and the chemicals were making her sick. After that I always spent extra money to buy healthy products. I was a single mother raising three children but my daughter’s health was not something that I could compromise on.
Money is important, especially when it is scare. But is it more important than the health of the people and the planet?
I always recycle, but people tell me that there are many reasons why recycling is not convenient. There is now something called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch where all the garbage that we have been throwing into the ocean is converging.
What will we tell future generations about how we took care of the planet?
So environmentalism has gone main stream. Most people know about recycling, solar, healthy foods and green building. The average American says that they want to go green, but still struggles with how to make these choices. Capital, culture and convenience continue to be the issues that are slowing down progress. The old paradigms are changing and we are moving toward sustainability. I am excited about this movement. Progress may be a little slow for me, but it is progress nonetheless.
-Erin Alexander, Earthwise Design Consulting