Change Starts from You: Arguments Against "But I'm just One Person"September 21, 2020 · Aaron Burr
Climate change, the fate of the world, making a difference. These things are big.
Possibly the biggest conundrum we face when trying to make a change for the planet is: can I really make a difference?
If we changed the climate collectively before, shouldn’t we be able to do it again?
How could we humans have such a massive impact on the planet? To the point where species are dying and resources are being depleted? It’s sad to think about, but it can also be liberating. Because if we made this much of a difference in a bad way, couldn’t we also make such a difference in a good way as well?
Maybe, our doubt if we can make a difference stems from believing whether or not we can alter the planet as we have. If we truly believe that collectively we have changed the earth’s climate, shouldn’t we also believe that we can collectively return it back to normal?
Isn’t the pursuit of the goal just as important as the goal itself?
Being more kind to the planet, or trying to reduce our footprint, usually leads to a healthier life both mentally and physically.
We eat more fruits and veggies, we walk and bike more instead of sitting and driving, we are living in line with our values, we are contributing to a bigger mission, we are using products that are better on our mind and body, and so on. That sounds pretty dang great!
Is having a massive difference all that important when we and the earth will benefit anyways from pursuing a collective difference?
Are goals only good if they are achieved? Or does the pursuit of said goal make us better people anyways? Does it make the planet better anyways? Alright, maybe that’s getting a bit too life coach-y.
At what point have we “made a difference”?
At what amount of change do we finally say that we’ve “made a difference”?
Is it when we get 1,000 people to act? 1 million?
Or is it when we’ve reduced the world’s carbon footprint by 10%? 50%? Or have we made a difference once we’ve reduced it by .05%?📊
Many of us probably all have different numbers. But the point is, the amounts that we choose are pretty arbitrary. We assign meaning to certain amounts because they are good benchmarks, or goals to achieve.
📉But the truth is, even .0002 percent reduction in the earth’s carbon is a difference. It is literally, different than it was before.
Us choosing to stop buying single use cotton swabs, or tissues, or choosing to eat a plant based meal here and there, makes a difference.
If we don’t have a number that defines “a difference”, then doesn’t everything we do make a difference? Doesn’t everything we do have an impact?
The only way to prevent or propel 8 billion people to take action is the belief or disbelief that our individual actions matter. That we can, or can’t, make a difference.
The point is, we are all “just one person” until we’re not. Our actions are only ours until we are also acting with another person, or two more people, or ten million people.
Reducing three hundred or so single use cotton swabs per year won’t save the planet, nor will reducing a bajillion. But even reducing one single cotton swab makes a difference, and it is our collective action that must turn away from these wasteful habits, if we want to also be able to tackle other major issues on this earth.
We ought to not expect perfection in ourselves. Instead we should strive for simply being better than yesterday. Or even a year ago. If sustainability has a direction that we are headed, but no end, then we should just worry about taking one step at a time, rather than focusing on some end point.