I am thrilled. I went to my local convenience store this morning in the outskirts of a small city in Mexico and overheard the vendor say: Sorry! We no longer give out plastic bags.
I never thought words like that could fill me with such joy!
Our city has been slow to catch on. Other cities in Mexico, like Querétaro, have been plastic bagless for over a year. Then there are other cities throughout the country winning awards.
For the most part, the topic of climate change and the environment is truly overwhelming and leaves one feeling so powerless. Countless images of garbage-infested oceans, trash-filled stomachs of sea animals, cyclones and draughts and melting icebergs send us the message loud and clear that we must make changes, but where do we start?
Sure, we can keep on with our everyday lives and just hope and pray that someone out there does something about it (like all those people who got together in our city to promote the ban of plastic bags in supermarkets) and that we are not personally affected. Then again, we can decide to become active participants in our own way, joining the efforts of a gradually increasing number of human beings around the world who are envisioning a different, healthy, greener future for the generations to come.
Like Greta. If you’ve heard anything about climate change recently, you’ve heard of Greta, the very young Swedish girl who decided to skip class on Fridays and sit outside the Swedish Parliament to protest and raise awareness about climate change. Her frustration motivated her to do something within her possibilities and her apparently small actions have inspired a global movement.
We cannot all be Greta’s nor may be want to be, but we can ALL take small steps to make a dramatic difference in our environment, while we inspire our family, children, friends and community.
We can no longer ignore and stand by. We see scientists banding together worldwide to promote awareness, different global organizations like the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization constantly sending the world messages that we must act NOW. The amazing thing is that we DO have the power, each one of us, to change the direction.
1. START WITH ONE SMALL STEP. BEGIN WITH YOURSELF.
It’s incredible, when we begin to notice, just how many of our daily habits have a negative effect on our environment. When we wake up to this awareness it may feel disheartening. When we start to want to make changes we may become frustrated by the lack of awareness of those around us.
Here is were we must apply the wisdom that we cannot control what others do, but we can control what we do, and we can lead by example.
Ask yourself: What is the first thing I can do today to make a difference? Is it turning off the light? Recycling? Wasting less water? Using cold water for washing clothes (which makes them last longer!), walking instead of driving? And, if you are already doing some or all of these, what next step can you take?
You see, it’s a process. When we want to make a dramatic change from one day to the next, we may be setting ourselves up for a sense of failure. Observe your actions and take the next step. If you’d like some inspiration, read this list and share it. But start by refusing to use or accept one-use plastics like bags and containers. Be sure to carry your own.
Now, there are nay-sayers who argue that even if there are billions of us in the world take these small steps, we cannot make a difference. I would like to propose that it is not ONLY in our daily actions that the change will come, but in the level of awareness that these actions will result in, thus leading to change at collective, organizational and then political and international levels.
2. INFLUENCE THOSE AROUND YOU
You can become an advocate by leading with your example. You don’t have to be perfect. (You don’t have to preach). Given time, people start to notice.
Have you noticed the community around you? Who is recycling? Who is shopping locally at farmers markets? Who is sharing rides to work? They are all advocates of a movement toward greater awareness about our environment.
As social beings our actions can really have a snowball effect on the people around us. Just check out this video on the power of one person.
You can become a point of reference for others who will start to question what they are doing. This may be conscious or unconscious, but changes in the world come from the actions of first one individual and then those who follow good ideas. Healing and protecting our environment, changing or adapting our lifestyles to ensure a healthy future for our children is a good idea. It takes one person in a community to plant the seeds of change. You can be that person.
3. INFLUENCE GOVERNMENTS AND CORPORATIONS
The number one thing that you can do to re-direct climate change is vote.
We know that the interests of businesses and governments are often not in our best interests. We know the quest for profit can blind corporate leaders and governments and that corporations are largely responsible for climate change as this report shares with us, including the 100 energy companies responsible for 71% of the globes greenhouse gas emissions.
But as voters we can make our leaders accountable. We can support companies that are making changes toward greater sustainability. We can chose leaders that are informed about climate change and who make it a priority to invest in sustainability efforts. We must ensure that government regulate corporate actions.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
If you are feeling scared, powerless, or frustrated, know that you do have the power to make a difference for the environment and climate. Don’t feel you have to take it ALL on yourself. When you are feeling overwhelmed, BREATHE, relax (stress does not promote a healthy environment) and review, to see what you are doing and what you can do within your own possibilities. We cannot all be Greta’s, but we can all wield our own power to gradually, step-by-step, plastic bag by plastic bag, make a difference.