It's easy to point the finger at others: At the Brazilians for destroying pristine rainforest, at the Indonesians for replacing unique nature with palm oil monocultures or recently at the Australians, for their plans to destroy the Great Barrier Reef for a coal shipping channel. But you know what, it's not only them. It's us, too. It's our behavior and the little everyday choices we make. We have more power than you might think and with the willingness to resign from a few things everyone of us can have a positive impact.
Anita and I are not perfect. We are not some little innocent lambs hovering above all, but we do realized a few things for ourselves. You can either point the finger at others or you can put your own house in order. Things don't happen for no reason and most of the time there is a long chain of interactions down the line. Knowing the game and its players give you the power to manipulate their actions. Following is a little story about a desire, a reasonable thought, a little sacrifice and a happy ending.
This article could be an endless list of what's good for society and environment and what's not, but I assume most of you heard all this before. I think in reality it's more about how to deal with this knowledge and that's the tricky part. Here's a little personal story about my own experience. We recently visited the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. It's a beautiful part of this country with stunning coastline, lots of wildlife and great attractions.
I did a lot of snorkeling and collected a few Razor Fishes, a local eatable shellfish we than had for dinner. One day someone told me about guided snorkeling trips to an island off the coast. The island is home to a large seal colony and more than likely you will get to swim with them. Swimming with seals was always one of my dreams. I love the ocean and know that seals are extreme curious and playful.
To cut a long story short, I really wanted to go and it took Anita a fair bit of time to talk me out of it. Don't get me wrong, I am sure there are great companies out there offering tours with respect to nature and wildlife. But in the end, humans are always intruders provoking unnatural behavior. For this reason we already skipped Monkey Mia, a town on the west coast that became a tourist attraction by feeding wild dolphins. For me it was not easy to let go of my dream, but in the end I knew Anita was right.
Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing. It often takes a little sacrifice, but in the end it's worth the effort. We travel on a really tight budget, but we still bring up the extra money to buy free range eggs. We try to avoid palm oil products, use public transport when possible or drive slow to save fuel. We do this because we know that our choices have a direct impact on the world. If no one is interested in buying palm oil products it will get unprofitable for the big companies and will finally lead to less destruction of rain forest. Not taking the guided seal tour might not change a thing at first sight, but on a long term it's the demand that keeps things running. If more people decide like I did, one day the seals might get a little more privacy and freedom.
And here's the happy end and my motivation to actually write these lines. A few month later we caught up with a family we had met several times earlier on our trip. They took us to a place called Seal Rock. The water was calm and we saw a lot of seals. For safety reasons they had a snorkeling set on board and I finally got my chance to swim with the seals. This was not planned and just happened out of nowhere. I did not try to touch or approach the seals and Anita heard about an advice to not trap the seals in-between you and the rock.
After I went into the water it took a few minutes but then the seals approached me. They were really curious and started to play with me. I had one eye on the seals and one on the vertical drop below me fearing a shark attack any second. After about 5 minutes I thought I challenged my luck enough and left the water with a major smile on my face. Some people might think I could as well have taken the tour, but I prefer the way it happened now. There was no feeding, no touching and no promising that had to be kept. It was me and the seals for a very small time. I know it's selfish to go in the water but this very special moment once more made me appreciate how wonderful nature can be and reinforced my desire to fight for its protection.
I know that our modern society makes things far more complicated. Avoiding certain products will not only affect big companies, but will have an unwanted impact on local economies as well. Poor farmers might loose the little they have while the big players just jump to the next business venture with still no respect to nature. But on a long run, buying local, paying attention to fair trade and an ecological production process will help to make the difference.
The footage above is part of what we filmed that day. The experience not only made me think about our choices and behavior, leading to this article, but was an inspiration to come up with a video to treat wildlife with respect. Feel free to share, we also uploaded a YouTube version of this video. Like with all our other Youtube videos, watching the advertisement will help to support us.
The bottom line is that each and every one of us is a part of this world and will have an impact on how and where we will go from here. It's easy to blame others but hard to stand up to your own believes. I have to admit that many times I am tempted to do things the easy, fast or cheap way and find an excuse to salve my conscience. Sometimes it takes Anita to get me back on track, to make me push that little extra. But in the end, it's always worth the effort.