Don’t take the easy way out

When I was in sixth grade, my mom threw out our microwave. “The radiation is bad for us,” she said. Then, she slowly stopped buying beef because they produce methane. This year, she bought a set of metal straws and told my family that we were going to stay away from plastic ones.

At first, whenever my mom implemented a new “environmentally-friendly” rule, I never really appreciated, or even enjoyed them. If I wanted a drink while we were out shopping, I had to either bring it home, or remember to carry a metal straw. It was inconvenient. Yet despite the extra effort it takes, sometimes it’s important to do what’s right, what’s beneficial in the long run, at the expense of convenience.

One of the best examples for this is the use of plastic. Its demand is completely based off its ease of use and accessibility. Are there alternatives to the environmentally damaging plastic? Yes, but oftentimes, they’re difficult to use, difficult to find, or difficult to maintain. Take beeswax wrapping for example. It does the same thing as cling wrap, but where you throw away cling wrap after one use, wax wrappings require cleaning. This is the issue with almost everything plastic. They’re one use. And it’s much, much easier to throw something away, than clean it, store it, and remember to reuse it. Once something goes into the trash can, it’s not our problem anymore, whereas reusable items continuously require attention and maintenance. By choosing to take the easiest route instead of the most responsible one, we are ignoring our moral responsibility to the planet.

The degeneration of accountability doesn’t just happen with the environment either. It’s prevalent in our lives. In our economy, finding the most affordable product is frequently a goal. However, this creates a culture of not knowing, or even not caring whether a product is responsibly sourced. Take fast fashion: it’s trendy, it’s cute, and it’s possible to frequently switch up your style with minimal damage to your bank account. When faced with all these benefits, it’s easy to forget the underpaid and overworked laborers that work in sweatshops to create these article of clothing.

The dearth and subsequent death of our moral responsibility is facilitated by capitalist consumerism. Another example is the practice of using animals for testing. Frequently used in the beauty industry, animal testing is cheap but cruel. The cost of trying possibly toxic chemicals on animals is much less than lab growing human skin and using that. There is a type of test called lethal dose 50 percent in which animals are force fed toxic chemicals until 50 percent of the sample size dies. This is only one among many tests that are performed on animals for the sake of driving down prices in our competitive market. By using the cheapest method to test products possible, which animal testing, companies reduce their cost of production.  These are factors that we, as consumers overlook for the sake of affordability or maybe of which we are completely unaware.

It’s easy to ignore the consequences of our actions because they either don’t directly affect us or aren’t immediately forthcoming. Sure, maybe we’ll sad react a video of a starving polar bear in the Arctic, but that empathy is short-lived and quickly forgotten. In addition to our cost on the environment, our choice to take the easy route hurts us in the end. Ultimately, convenience detracts from moral responsibility.

By Nicole Chiang, Opinion editor
Editorial cartoon by Joy Wang