Blog Action Day: The Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle
Today is the third annual Blog Action Day, a great event where thousands of bloggers (just under 7000 at the time of typing this) all write about one particular topic of concern. This year it’s about climate change, a particularly apt subject given how world leaders will gather in two months time to hopefully finalize a global deal on the issue. I like to get involved in this event and have done so for the previous two years (be sure to read my posts for 2008 and 2007). This year is no exception. However this time it took me a while to figure out what exactly to write about. After all, climate change is a huge, complicated topic. Now that the politicians, companies and the media have jumped all over it, there is so much information, facts, tips and advice out there that it’s hard to know where to start. But starting is what we all have to do, and that’s what this post is about.
So where do you begin exactly? People tell you to ditch your cars and get a bike, grow your own vegetables, recycle your waste, etc. but that’s easier said than done. The fact of the matter is driving to work, buying veggies from the supermarket and just chunking stuff in the bin is vastly more convenient and it’s led to a populace with an environmentally unfriendly lifestyle.
What’s more, being told that you need to sell your car, stop traveling by plane and purchase a bunch of eco friendly appliances only discourages people further and is often too expensive for the average person to do. You’re not going to change the world overnight by asking millions of people to make radical changes to the way they all function and live their lives.
The urgency of the situation often makes us think we need to take big action NOW! But that can cloud us from taking a more well thought out, long-term strategy. Big actions, though well intentioned, often fall at the first hurdle. That’s why we as individuals need to start small. Turning the lights off when you leave the room is a simple, minor gesture and it certainly won’t change the planet. But it’s all about the cumulative effect. One person does it and the only difference will be to their electricity bill (which in itself is a positive thing). But what about a thousand people? A million? What about if all those businesses turned off the lights when they closed at night? What about if the entire population of your country got involved? Now turning your lights off becomes a big deal.
And then you start throwing in other little gestures like taking your bottles to the recycle bin once a week when you go to the supermarket (most supermarkets have recycling areas nowadays), wearing an extra jumper instead of turning the heat up or only boiling enough water in the kettle for your needs. Suddenly that all important carbon footprint of yours starts to drop from all these little efforts combined. Now times that by the millions of people doing likewise…
Doing something drastic like swapping your car for a bike is well intentioned but most people don’t or can’t do it because it’s like jumping in at the deep end. While there is a need for change, when you’re used to living in a particular way trying to change those habits of a lifetime is no easy feat (try asking a smoker who tries to quit by going cold turkey). Rather like how we have to create energy sources that are sustainable, we also have to create habits that are sustainable too. That’s why taking small steps regularly over a prolonged period of time is the key to developing an environmentally friendly lifestyle.