Why I Jybe: Chandler Cummings

Why do I Jybe? Upon first being asked, I didn’t really know what to say, or how to say it. I don’t plan on ever having children, so the whole “making sure my child has a safe planet on which to live” argument doesn’t really work for me. Then I realized that, for me, it’s not about the future. It’s about right now.

signs on/ near chair - less new = less co2, sustainable fashion matterz, we never stop voting

Like many of you, I learned about “the three R’s” growing up – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I’ve noticed lately that most of us skip the first two – Reduce and Reuse. From my perspective, that’s where the most significant progress can be made, but our society has never been one for the more difficult things in life. While reducing and reusing are, in reality, quite simple and easy, our capitalist society points us in another direction. So while reducing and reusing are actually easier, capitalism has ingrained in us otherwise.

I know what you’re thinking, “Great, another anti-capitalist millennial here to stand on their soapbox.” I don’t blame you, but I also want to be clear: there is no soapbox under my feet (not right now, at least). I take part in our capitalist and materialist society as much as anyone, but I’m trying hard every day to make little changes with big positive impacts for our environment. All this to say, in recognizing my own emphasis on recycling, but not so much on reducing and reusing, I’ve begun recognizing our society’s grave mistake in doing the same.

What’s wrong with recycling, though? Well, there’s nothing wrong with the concept of recycling itself. The issues begin with municipal waste systems and recycling centers, along with relying on individuals to know what they can and can’t actually recycle. There’s a laundry list of problems with many recycling systems, especially ours here in L.A. My small hometown in northern Michigan has a world-class recycling facility, how is it that Los Angeles, California, doesn’t? While we might be interested in the answer to that, it’s not important right now. We don’t have the time or resources to overhaul our country’s entire waste management system to be like Germany’s, as much as we’d all love that. So we have to do what is within our power to do good for the earth, and its inhabitants.

I’m hoping that a big wave of reducing and reusing is on its way. I feel it starting in small circles and in many communities, it never stopped. Refusing single-use plastics is just one way we as citizens of the Earth can redirect companies to provide more earth-friendly options. Ask your favorite local restaurants if they’ll accept reusables – we’re asking, too! There’s that second R – reuse. And you’ll be reducing waste by using reusables – now we’re having fun. Just me? Alright. Jokes aside, there are so many small ways we can reduce and reuse in our everyday lives and I hope more folks start making progress toward a more sustainable lifestyle. And I don’t mean fancy, expensive sustainability stuff (though that’s fun too if you can afford it!). I mean truly grassroots sustainability – focusing on eating locally, reducing purchases of single-use non-biodegradable items, reducing energy use, planting vegetable gardens, using what you already have. In fact, living sustainably should be and is less expensive than the alternative. Don’t believe me? Here’s some proof. And another for good measure.

bloody hands reaching toward/ on globe of earth, masked man

Environmental burdens affect not only our mother Earth but also those inhabiting her. We often think only of nature, the oceans, animals, or future generations when talking about the devastating effects of climate change. But environmental damage has been affecting us for ages – especially those in minority communities affected by environmental racism. Time has been up on this point for a very long while now. Many of us have been living in our privileged bubbles, myself included, blissfully unaware of the daily realities other communities are facing.

When I started learning about environmental racism and the horrifying truths behind it, I thought to myself, “well, it’s better late than never” and joined the fight for justice. That’s the thing that gets me about a lot of climate activism today – the emphasis on the future, while it’s affecting us, ALL of us, here and now. It’s displacing people and animals, it’s wreaking havoc on agriculture, it’s killing people. This has all been happening, and it’s still happening now. For me, environmental activism isn’t just about ensuring future generations have a habitable planet, it’s about ensuring we all do, today.

There are so many reasons I Jybe, and it’s hard to put them all into words. I Jybe for nature’s great beauty, for future generations, for the plants and animals whose habitats we’ve corrupted or outright demolished. Most of all, I Jybe in hopes of living in a healthier, more equitable society, for all of us.

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