I've been seeing that one article more often lately. It's that article that says it really doesn't matter what a single individual does at home to save the world. You can't make any impact whatsoever by riding a bike or using a rain barrel or bothering to recycle. The article always says that we have to change laws, governments, economic systems, and the role of business in shaping our environmental survival - that we have to get political in order to make a difference. And snagit, I know it's (mostly) true.
It's pretty easy to walk away from those articles beaten down.
You don't remember a bike in that scene?
But there's another side to it.
While an individual's singular actions really don't make a trackable difference in the environment, an individual's singular actions can make a very trackable difference in social circles. And we are absolutely social.
A Negative Example
[It's about to get ugly here.] If you don't believe it, look at climate change denial. The proof is in. Everywhere that people live (and in several places where people don't live) the proof of man-made climate change is visible to everyday people who just pay attention. We don't even need scientists to tell us that we are doing major damage. (But we definitely need scientists to help us understand it better and to learn how to deal with, adapt to, and confront it.) Yet, a large and powerful social voice in our country has made it socially unacceptable to believe in climate change. It's a case of Social vs. Science, and we are social creatures.
On a More Positive Note
We need to be recycling, composting, riding bikes, driving electric, avoiding plastic, eating local, and everything else that does make a super super tiny impact because we are social creatures, because each of us is a role model. (In the same vein, we should all be kind to others.) By doing positive things, we make it socially acceptable for those around us to do positive things.
I've been at this a little while now, and once in a while I sit back and am a little shocked at the number of people who have watched and listened to my actions and words. While not all of Lubbock has sold their cars and bought electric cargo bikes, two have now bought plug-in cars and several others plan for their next car to have a plug in. Recycling amongst my co-workers is up about 3000% and growing. My gearhead buddies all want a Tesla. My little brother goes around shaming people for driving gas-powered vehicles. (We are really working on that tact thing with him.) And snagit all to Midland - Grizz rides a Sondors now. And the roots just keep spreading.
Is my little social circle saving the world?
Absolutely not. But this little group is paying more attention. And they are starting to notice news articles about the EPA and the climate. And they ask me more and more questions. And they are seeking news from different sources rather than trusting social media for their news. And I've seen a few of them getting politically active.
So, here's my answer to those articles:
It matters. The more we do, the more people notice. So, get out there and recycle proudly. Tell people why you have reusable bags and what is so damn cool about driving a plug-in hybrid. Do the right thing AND talk about it. Be an eco-dork proudly (but not obnoxiously).
I guess it's time for me to quit writing, go home, and start making ECO-DORK t-shirts!
May you live very well and encourage others to do the same.
PS. The CCL lives in Lubbock again! Watch this space for details!