I started more formal education in environmental studies some 11 years ago. Along the many lessons I've learned during this path was the argument for why mandating environmental change is a bad thing. I was told this is why people don't like environmentalists because, "they demand too much change that greater society can't deal with so abruptly".
This argument never did sit right with me, especially when one studies how voluntary change has come about and implemented in modern day. Sure, it sounds god, but take something like how the ski industry promotes sustainability. The Sustainable Slopes Initiative is what guides ski resorts in engaging with sustainability initiatives. The ski resorts get to use the logo and claim "they are sustainable" by signing up for the non-mandative pledge that in reality says if a ski resort never recycled plastic, and now they do, they're on the road to sustainability.
Really? I mean come on, you're either sustainable or you're not, period. These voluntary policies allow for great green-washing and can also be seen in climate change discussions going on in the US government. Curb our emissions by how much percentage by when? What will that do anyway? My take was yes, I understand if we eliminated the oppressive capitalistic economic system that governs the US there would be a greater chance for instilling equality amongst the classes, but yes that would be an Earth shattering dramatic change that if it happened tomorrow, all hell would break loose as anarchists would rejoice. However, just imagine taking a step like Mexico City has and making it illegal to for any store to hand out non-biodegradable bags. Take that voluntary change people...in this light, mandating change says so what, you'll have to alter your ways no matter what or you're breaking the law. And guess what? People will adapt.
That brings about change; mandating strong measures that are good for the health of the Earth and all its species. If they said try not to hand out plastic bags what would happen? Nothing, but perhaps a few would come along.
So the shared thought for today, beyond the lesson that in any case bringing your own reusable bag anywhere is much better than biodegradable ones that still take a lot of energy to produce and don't break down quite as well as one might hope, is keep dreaming for those measures that will bring about positive social change and don't get bogged down by "it's too hard and too dramatic a change for all people to live in respect filled coexistence where sustainability promotes social justice and peace for all sentient beings". There is a way, and with that one foot in the system and one foot out, great things can and will happen.
Thanks for the lessons Mexico, and while I'm at it, I might as well mention San Francisco's lead on the plastic bag banning, which also makes me think of the health care initiative that has been blossoming there where all San Franciscoites are afforded health care. Sounds nice doesn't it; All people with health care...maybe we should continue this mandative talk with this fine system of brutality we live by and just make sure all people are afforded the care and concern they deserve while we promote social good that's good for all life on this planet.