Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on May 1, 2008
When it comes to saving the planet, are personal choices enough? Not according to Tom Crompton of BBC News’ Green Room. Small changes in personal behavior, according to his recent article, only serve to make us feel better about ourselves: “Unfortunately, as a response to problems of the scale that confront us, it seems that they are shot full of holes.”
What’s really needed, he says, are fundamental changes to modern society’s thirst for more stuff.
Crompton says even making choices to re-use old products rather than buy new ones — driving a car until it falls apart, for example — simply allow us to focus our spending power somewhere else. “If I save money by repairing my old car rather than buying a new one, I could spend the savings on cheap flights abroad. The net environmental impact will probably be negative.”
Viewed in these terms, global warming looms even larger.
While Crompton raises interesting questions, I reject the idea that we can’t change the world one person / one choice at a time. Margaret Mead, America’s leading female anthropologist said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
How true. Grass roots movements form the basis for large-scale, wholesale changes in the way we go about our lives. There is certainly pressure from the top down, especially in the way marketing and advertising tells us that we need more, more, more. But an organized push-back from the bottom up (and some good marketing of our own) can counterbalance and eventually change the effect. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
The lesson here: keep making those personal choices to use friendlier products AND start looking at the way you experience the world in terms of what you want vs. what you really need.
Because if the people lead, the leaders will surely follow.