Image Alden Jewell

How Convenience is Ruining the Planet: An Underlying Truth of the Modern World

If you would have asked me a year ago where I thought I’d be, or what I thought I’d be doing right now, the picture I would have painted for you would have looked something like this:

Me. Out of the country. Some place with better waves than home. Perhaps in the tropics. Fun night life close by with lots of foreign people (girls).

It would have been colorful, exotic, exuding adventure, with cultural experience seeping through it’s canvas. And it would have been all about me, looking out for number one, making sure I get the most out of life before it’s too late, because everyone always said, “Do it now, while you still can.”

Yet here I am, sitting in a chair in my bedroom in LA, with no plans for world travel, my feet firmly planted on my navy carpet, but my head in the sky, and my sights set toward a different future. A future filled with learning about myself and others, and hopeful of having an impactful influence on the world, that inspires people to just be better.

That picture that I was referring to very much resembles the way I spent the last two years of my life. It was an incredible way to spend my time, but I often wonder, what was I really doing?

Was I searching for something? Waves, yes. But something else? Happiness? Love? Purpose? The keys to the universe? In a way, sure. I like the idea of all those things, but I know now that I was searching and trying to attain them in the wrong place, and going about it the wrong way.

You see, rather than in exotic locations like the South of France, or remote islands in the Indian Ocean, lately I’ve been searching inside myself for all of these things (for more on that cornyness, click here).

And you know what the best part is? I’ve been finding them. Ironically, continuing to search for myself from within has resulted in me becoming more selfless.

To me, part of this selflessness is not only claiming that I care about our planet, but actually doing something about it. Hence, Bike to Surf, but it hasn’t been easy.

Lowering my carbon footprint has become one of the great challenges of my life, and it is just the beginning. But what has been so challenging about it?

Well, riding my bike around has not been all that hard. Driving a LOT less, has not been all that hard. Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s been really nice. You want to know what’s really challenging about the beginning of this journey?

It’s the mental part.

It’s the learning process and the awareness that comes along with understanding the past and present phenomenon that have taken and are taking place around the world. It’s the frustration of beginning to look around and see how lazy we as a whole have become.

This post was originally meant to be a list of things that I have been doing lately to live in a more eco-friendly way, if only on a small scale. I was going to tell you about how I stopped using straws and single use plastic water bottles, and how I always take my thermos to the coffee shop now, but that list has already been done. That one, and plenty of others just like it.

It wasn’t until I actually started writing that I realized this was going to be about something else. You see, information on how to lower our carbon footprints is out there, at the tip of our fingers, ready to be utilized, waiting to guide us all down a better path.

So then, the question I ask myself is, why aren’t the majority of us using it to change our behavior? The best thing I can come up with so far, the underlying truth of it all, is convenience.

For example, we constantly walk out of the store with plastic bags because they’re carrying our things, conveniently. Is it often possible to carry our things out of a store without a plastic bag? Sure, but it’s less convenient.

We insist on driving places, even when they are only a short distance away because it’s easier to hop in our cars, it’s faster and requires less energy. And it’s more convenient.

We constantly use single use anything and everything because when we’re done with it, we can just throw it away. Less dishes, more convenient.

Seeing any themes here?

When I made the decision to Bike to Surf, it sparked a fuse. I realized that, if I have time and energy to make room for this small change in my life, then what’s stopping me from making other, similar changes?

The answer is nothing.

I will slowly, but surely, be making my way toward a more environmentally responsible lifestyle, that I plan on living for the rest of my days. Because although I too like convenience, I don’t need it, and I refuse to continue living a life that revolves around it.

Are there conveniences in your life that you know you could live without?

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Writing posts about stuff he thinks he should know more about. Taking a casual approach to not-always-that-casual topics. Obsessively organizing his 50+ desktop sticky notes, while sitting Indian style on his bedroom floor. Riding his bike around a lot, trying to lower his carbon emissions. Being one of those weird people who "care."

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  • Chantae

    I had this realization too! I’ve started making eco-friendly stuff just as convenient as being wasteful (reusable bags left everywhere, a backpack with a thermos/bottle backed always, bulk buying, biking to work and I even moved somewhere that was closer to everything I needed even though it was smaller for convenience!) So to me, once a few things are set in place – there’s no more excuses as to why the average person can’t be as lazy as myself (and still produce little waste)!

    I think the frustration I have is the care aspect. You can buy someone a reusable water bottle and they will still opt for the Costco packages of plastic ones. Drives me crazy but I guess I always hope that the way I live will inspire someone else.

    This might also lead down a rabbit hole but have you read anything by Mr. Money Mustache? A financial blog but the writer has also showed how choosing the less convenient route saves health (biking), money (reusing), and of course the environment. This is my favorite post:

    I also dabble a bit on sustainability and my war against plastic on my blog ( – would love to interview you about your bike to surf campaign if you wanna shoot me over an email :) Cheers.

    • Cameron Brown

      Chantae :) First off I want to say thanks for taking the time to respond to this at length. Only someone as passionate as I am about this stuff would take the time and energy to make real changes in their life. It get’s me so psyched to know there are people out there I can really relate to. And ya once your mind operates the way ours do (being conscious of things like this) it can be crazy frustrating living in this world where most people don’t think like us. And we just have to watch it everyday, and it becomes impossible to not notice. But all we can do is our own part right? We’re leading by example (as corny as that sounds). Thanks so much for the mrmoneymustache tip I will have a look!

      Looking around your site now. Going to take a wild guess that you stumbled upon my website via Chris Farro? USC, snowboarding, sounds about right. Chris, Caleb and I met in Australia studying abroad back in 2011. Funny that you are now there! Love that country, and especially the west coast. What a treat for you to have the opportunity to live over there. I’m happy to do an interview about Bike to Surf for your site. I’ll send ya an email. Hope you charged a wave or two during that last Indian ocean MONSTER swell ;)

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