Here’s why individual action matters—because it’s ALL individual action. It’s individual action, and only individual action, that will solve our problems. Here’s what I mean by that—National Geographic’s current issue focuses on climate change, and in their article “How to Fix It”, they have sections for actions that individuals can take, and then more sections about actions that businesses, cities, nations, and the world can take, as if there’s “us”, and then other entities beyond “us”. But it’s all “us”, when you really look at it.
Their first section on individual action is clear enough; we can all make changes. And, those changes can be dramatic—our family has made changes to our house and transportation systems that are saving about 3,000 gallons of fossil fuel a year, compared to the lifestyle that we were living ten years ago. We can all reduce consumption, and invest in efficiency, and vote with our dollars with regard to what we choose to purchase, and vote with our ballots for political leaders who are committed to moving us along in a better direction, and educate ourselves, and refocus our lives in meaningful directions. We can all become involved, and participate in all manner of ways. We can compost and recycle and quit using pesticides and mow less lawn and plant fruit trees and buy organic and save wildlife and thousands upon thousands of other actions, that, while sometimes small, all add up. Indeed, the “you” part of the article is clear.
But what about businesses? It’s still individual action, by someone. A small-business owner, a CEO, a member of a board of directors that convinces the board to embark on a certain path. It’s an engineer somewhere with an idea about efficiency, or a public relations person who sees the value in corporate responsibility. Or it’s an individual like Elon Musk, with the skills and resources to push audacious business plans for the betterment of humanity.
The same general idea is true for the changes that cities might make. Individuals drive change—a mayor with the leadership to create and achieve a vision, individual voters that collectively approve projects and policies, and support the taxes that fund them, aldermen or selectmen or town council members who speak out in favor of earth-friendly initiatives.
The pattern continues, for nations, for the world. Individuals drive change. Some of it is big change, put into place by the Jimmy Carter’s and Bill Gates’ of the world. Some of it is small change, person to person, neighbor to neighbor. Some of it is tiny; the choice to rinse out a plastic container and put it into the recycling bin at work, or turn out the lights when you walk out of an empty room. But it all matters—every single bit of it.
So in the end, everything comes down to you, and to me. So there’s no excuse for not acting—you, dear reader, are an individual too. What’s the role you’ve been cast into in this huge play, and what are the things that YOU can do?