Robin on the Road in Trerice Cornwall, UK

Robin on the Road in Trerice Cornwall, UK
Robin on the Road in Trerice Cornwall, UK

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Eco-Justice and my MSR Pocket Rocket?

Eco-Justice and my Pocket Rocket?

Eco-Justice holds together commitments for ecological sustainability and human justice. It sees environmental issues and justice issues not as competing agendas, but as intertwined elements of how humans are called to relate to God's creation. It asserts that it is not possible to care for the earth without also caring for humanity, and that seeking human justice must involve care for the environment.
taken from the Eco-Justice Ministries web site

I had a thought recently while on a back-country solo. It was simple. I was making tea or probably coffee on my Pocket Rocket with an iso-prop pressurized canister. It was empty so I punctured it as I usually do to carry it out for recycling. I noticed it smelled pretty bad and in fact when I put it in my pack the things in my pack started to smell. It reminded me of when I was growing up and I would travel with the family on long car rides. To get off Long Island we often had to travel through New Jersey. New Jersey has some very lovely farm country and coast line. It also has some heavy industrial zones.
I often remember riding in the car on a major highway through an area with refineries I think with tall smoke stacks and flames coming out the top. I thought it was cool but it also smelled kind of foul. We kept the car windows rolled up.

My empty, punctured gas canister smelled similar. I noticed the words Made in Vietnam on the side of the can and I started to think. I had traveled to Viet Nam alone in 2000 on my first foray into Asia. As a kid I'd seen it on TV every night for about 8 years during the war. I learned that Viet Nam is not a black and white place. It's quite colorful. It's also quite poor. I was often beside myself at the conditions I saw people living in and was asked for handouts everywhere I went.  This is a deeply rooted systemic problem, there was not much I could do. Sounds harsh I know. 

Toward the end of my stay in Viet Nam I was in Hanoi and a young man approached me asking if I wanted to buy one of many black market books printed in English. I politely declined but he kept on. He spoke some English and finally he began to get escalated and started yelling at me, "Why don't you help me? why don't I have some thing to eat"? Sadly I replied, "Perhaps you should ask your local government official".  He was a little stunned and walked away. That sucked...

Well, I just began to wonder about the manufacture and production of my little gas canister. I hate to imagine that they re being produced in a country where oversight into safety of the workers and the environment is at all a consideration. I'm thinking probably not. 

So, while enjoying the peace and quiet of a relatively clean (except for the un-buried pile of human excrement I found near my camp), high-country landscape; and as it happens pondering the efficacious-ness of my own LNT ethic, I realized a significant incongruity in my thinking and my actions. I might need to find an alternative stove. Perhaps one that burns alcohol? But where is the alcohol produced? What are the conditions, Who lives there? Are there byproducts? 
Ever mindful of my impact on the world....

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