“Forget Shorter Showers” and “Waste Not, Want Not”

The discussions about the environment and people’s direct impact on nature differ considerably. Many writers and researchers admit that every person has an ability to stop making environmental harm but does not know how to use it properly. The current paper aims at discussing two powerful works, Jensen’s “Forget Shorter Showers” and McKibben’s “Waste Not, Want Not”, that explain and introduce their visions of the connection between individuals and environment.

Considering Jensen’s position that a personal change can never be equal to a social change and McKibben’s contradiction that people have to but do not want to care about what they actually have, I want to discuss the role of every person in regards to the environment and explain a human inability to improve the natural conditions not because of people’s unwillingness but because of the fact that the environmental protection is a social problem that will be existing till the humanity exists.

Almost every essay about the environment and people’s connection to it is a new attempt to explain human weaknesses and inabilities to control their actions or to prove that people have to do something all the time to save the planet, produce less harm, or explain why people need to take care of everything around.

The main point offered by McKibben is the existence of a waste issue in the forms of water bottles, engine emissions, cutting trees, or even inappropriate money spending. People know that they pollute the earth and continue doing so neglecting the level of harm they do. Jensen introduces another point of view that breaks the truths given by the previous author.

He believes that in fact, people can do nothing to save the planet from their activities due to the existing double bind, the situation when even a number of options do not help people to overcome the loss or even make them optionless (Jensen 566).

In comparison to McKibben, who underlines people’s direct influence of the natural conditions and waste spread day by day even when students make a decision to study in Harvard and connect their lives with finance or business (559), Jensen informs that people, as individuals, do not actually create the crisis, therefore, they cannot solve it (567).

In my opinion, there is a portion of sense in both essays. McKibben is correct admitting that people cannot pay attention to the level of waste they do day by day. However, he seems to be too strict and pessimistic with his intentions to blame people in everything happening around. Jensen’s position that personal actions and intentions can never equal the general social impact on the environment is clear but too loose and liberal that makes people neglecting their direct duties.

This is why I want to take a kind of medium position and use several McKibben’s and Jensen’s ideas at the same time. People do make some harm to the environment and have to understand their responsibility in regards to nature; still, it is wrong to blame people as individuals for everything bad that happens to nature only. People are free to choose the style of life whether it is environmentally friendly or technologically supportive, and they have to understand that they are those, who create the living comfort around.

To understand how the developed concept works, it is possible to use several examples from the both texts and see that it is not that difficult to live a normal life and support the environment. Of course, it seems to be wrong to believe that Harvard students waste money and time choosing business and finance as their main spheres of work as it is stated by McKibben.

Harvard students are able to get the necessary portion of knowledge and try to make the world work because the financial basis is also important nowadays. If the sphere of work chosen by such students does not influence the environment directly, they can prove their care by means of environmentally friendly activities, keeping order, and waste recycling in time. According to Jensen, people may stop using short showers because this cannot help to preserve nature.

Still, people should not forget that every their decision in regards to the environment and the conditions around influence their future. If today, a person does not clean a room, tomorrow, he can suffer from the amount of dust around. The actions made by people are closely connected to each other, and smart people have to understand and respect this connection.

In general, the works by Jensen and McKibben help to realize that environmental problems do exist. People know about them but cannot change them. It is wrong to neglect people’s connection with nature and dependence on the natural conditions around. Maybe, it is impossible for a person to save nature and create an environmentally friendly world, but it is always possible and even necessary for an individual to demonstrate his/her respect for nature and the ability to make less harm around.

Works Cited

Jensen, Derrick. “Forget Shorter Showers.” The Bedford Reader. Eds. X.J. Kennedy, Dorothy, M. Kennedy, Jane E. Aaron, and Ellen K. Repetto. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 564-569. Print.

Kennedy, X.J., Kennedy, Dorothy, M., Aaron, Jane E.. and Ellen K. Repetto. “Rosie Anaya on Writing.” The Bedford Reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 88-90. Print.

McKibben, Bill. “Waste Not, Want Not.” The Bedford Reader. Eds. X.J. Kennedy, Dorothy, M. Kennedy, Jane E. Aaron, and Ellen K. Repetto. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 557-563. Print.

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