VERSION: - ||-   SPANISH WITH KEY WORDS: -|- << prec| succ>>|15 Ottobre 2007

Blog action day 2007: the environment

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

An article about the environment may seem somewhat off-topic in relation to a blog discussing Spanish life, but it is not.

Currently, I am in Spain after quitting a stable and permanent job. I spontaneously boarded the first available aircraft heading to the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. I did it for personal reasons - to turn a long-distance virtual relationship into a real one - but that's not all.

Let's take a step back. A year ago, I used to commute 100 kilometers daily to reach my office. We were working remotely on applications for clients in Northern Italy. Although we were writing computer code and had no physical contact with clients, I still had to travel that far every day. Yes, they could have allowed us to work from home, saving time, energy, railroad maintenance costs, office space, and a considerable amount of daily carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. However, perhaps the bosses have yet to find it acceptable to make their own photocopies.

Consumeristic craze. We work for an income to be spent, to buy goods we believe we cannot live without. We desperately need them to compensate for our existence as modern slaves. It's a crazy merry-go-round, an endless loop that is not easy to recognize until you're caught up in it. I remember my visits to commercial centers. They are enormous traps, meticulously designed to manipulate people into buying everything, whether they need it or not. Promotions, special offers, discounts, aggressive and relentless marketing solely aimed at convincing you that your worth is tied to your ability to spend and buy. The merry-go-round cannot stop, not even for a fraction of a second.

We feel the need to consume to feel alive, to be part of this craze, this consumeristic orgy that is turning the planet into an immense landfill.

The awakening. Then, one day, I asked myself, "When?" I woke up and realized I was fed up with my train journeys, my company, my lifestyle, and even my visits to commercial centers.

I had savings, but I was also out of a job. I wanted my reserves to last as long as possible, so I had to adjust my lifestyle. In Spain, everything is cheaper than in Italy, from gas to electricity, bills, and overheads, except for water. The climate is very hot, the landscape is dry, almost deserted. Water is scarce and expensive.

The first exercise I tried when approaching the Spanish language was to listen to live radio programs and understand as much as I could. They were encouraging listeners to do more to save water, suggesting a series of clever tricks to reduce water usage while showering. I became resourceful and managed to limit my personal consumption to 3 liters. How? I showered using two bottles and boiled a portion of their contents with a special kettle for tea. Since then, I have been saving money and being a responsible citizen at the same time.

A new approach. I also got rid of my car and started walking as much as possible. It's incredible how much you can appreciate a town and learn about its details just by walking through it. It's also great to start buying local food from markets. Not only do you save money, but you also make friends and truly experience the place.

I have just realized how deeply brainwashed we are. We often perceive an "either-or" dilemma - either a comfortable lifestyle filled with consumption and material possessions, or an environment-friendly, almost monastic approach to life, seemingly detached from reality. However, that is far from true. What is friendly to the environment is also friendly to us - to our bodies, souls, relationships, and overall well-being. After all, aren't we ourselves part of the environment? When we destroy it, it's as if we are destroying ourselves as well?