Please Don't Do Too Much for the Environment

Whether it's talk of the Green New Deal or commentary on rising sea levels, we hear quite often and quite loudly the dire situation of climate change. In the wake of the worldwide Climate Strike, organized by the young people who must inhabit Earth the longest of us who are here now, the message is clear:

Major changes are needed, immediately.

Here are some major changes you could implement, as an individual, to help our environment: 

  • Sell your car, exclusively use public transit

  • Build a self-sustaining home, off the grid

  • Transition to an exclusively locally-sourced, plant-based, whole foods diet

  • Never purchase anything made with or packaged in plastic

Risking the progressive “street cred,” I’ve been told I may have, I’d like to make the case against individuals trying to do anything too big for the sake of the environment. Unless the changes align closely with your personal lifestyle desires (or bank account), attempting the suggestions above may ultimately prove harmful for the environment.

I encourage people not to strive for sweeping changes, individually. Big changes, the kind of changes described above, are daunting to take on. They prevent many people from doing anything at all. Big changes are difficult for people to stick with, and unsuccessful attempts can lead to worse behavior, due to the discouragement of futility.

Before I go too far without saying so, and hopefully I haven’t already, I’d like to clarify something: we must act to protect our planet. Quickly. Boldly. Bigly. 

If it’s within your power to do something big, by all means, do it. But, if you’re reluctant or concerned that you can’t make enough of an impact, ignore the calls for sweeping changes, and start small.

Here are some things you can do that are fairly easy to implement, can quickly scale up if you’d like, and don’t carry the same risk of failure or discouragement:

  • Shop locally for produce, especially when it’s in season

  • Bring your own bags to the grocery store

  • Turn the water off while brushing your teeth

  • When out of the house, hold on to recyclable waste until you find a recycling bin

  • When you have a large amount of food waste, such as after entertaining guests, consider putting it in a bucket and dropping it off at the Barrington Farm School’s compost bin, or a compost bin near you (or, compost yourself, for bonus points)

  • Decrease your consumption of animal products by making a few plant-based meals each week

  • Carpool from time-to-time, take a bus, walk, or ride a bike occasionally

  • Reuse things that can be reused

  • Give away things that can be used by others

  • Borrow or barter for things from others that you don’t need to purchase new

Another benefit of many of these things is that they also will save you money. 

Use your “big change” energy to advocate for corporations and governments to change the systems in place that harm the environment.

We should all do small things that collectively will bring big changes.