What is the impact of modern lifestyle on the environment?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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If this question was asked a decade or two decades ago, I think that the answer would be vastly different.  In my mind, modern lifestyle is more concerned with the environment's protection now than it has been for some time.  This is not to say that the problems of the environment have been solved.  In actuality, the steps being taken now are small dents in a larger problem.  There is much more of an emphasis in the modern lifestyle on being conscious of the environment.  Appliances that are "energy friendly," cars that operate on hybridized forms of fuel, or even energy lightbulbs that are "green" all represent how modern lifestyle is concerned with environmental awareness.  The modern lifestyle's trash contains "Recycle" containers and distinctions for paper and plastic goods.  The emergence of organic food options in the "modern lifestyle" is not seen as "odd" but rather as progressive and something that others emulate.

Having said all of this, I would pivot and suggest that this notion of "the modern lifestyle" has to be qualified a bit more. In many parts of the world, the conception of "the modern lifestyle" has nothing to do with environmental awareness.  In the ever competitive setting of globalization, nations seek to gain economic vitality and do so without much in way of environmental awareness.  Companies, eager to post profits, have little problem dumping toxic waste in water as opposed to disposing of it properly and with an environmental focus in mind.  Communities representing modern urban sprawl and heavy consumption also have no problem engaging in activities that are not environmentally protective.  For example, the Yamuna River, one of the most significant rivers in India is the victim to "a modern lifestyle."  The national capital of New Delhi dumps 58% of its waste in its basins.  The concept of "modern lifestyle" carries with it different reads, and with it, different visions of environmental awareness.

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