Can one person really make a difference to the environment?
The short answer: yes! Since its evolution 4.5 billion years ago, the population of the earth has multiplied and currently stands at 759.43 crores. Out of this mind-boggling number of people walking on the same planet, what difference can you — one person out of billions and billions — make to the environment? The answer to this lies in a shift of perspective.
Think of the planet as one big home that you share with a few billion other roommates. Taking care of your home is your responsibility. Even if you can’t look after the entirety of it, taking care of your share can make an untold difference for others as well as the generations to come. From an early age, we’ve been learning about small acts of sustainability prescribed in textbooks, but what difference can it make in the real world? Here’s proof that you can make a difference, all by yourself or along with a dedicated community of Earth lovers:
Making the decision is important
It is reported that, on average, human beings make around 35,000 decisions every single day. While some of these may be inconsequential, others have a long-reaching impact on the environment. For instance, making the switch to a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush can save the environment from the 500 years that it would take a plastic toothbrush to decompose in a landfill. Every single day, minute decisions like these can have more than a century-long impact on the environment, and the power is in your hands to decide.
The ripple effect is real
It is a known fact that humans are highly social species. The rise of the billion-dollar influencer industry proves that we often take our behavioural cues from those around us. Have you ever tried a new restaurant because a friend recommended it? Or purchased a particular lip colour after seeing it on your co-worker at a party? The same principle applies to eco-friendly living. All it takes is one individual to make the choice to live more sustainably and slowly but surely, the web of influence spreads to more and more people around you.
Increase in carbon footprint
While living sustainably may have served as an option at one point of time, it is now a necessity given the steep rise in our carbon footprint. Every individual on the planet is responsible for a certain amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the environment over the course of everyday activities. This number has been rising significantly in recent times; experts have opined that a single individual releases 19 tons of greenhouse gases each year on an average — enough to fill up three Statues of Liberty. Even if we can’t influence the macro, it is time to take stock of our individual carbon footprint. Experts believe that going carless for a year could avoid the emission of 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide. By taking public transport or a bicycle more often, you could make a major contribution towards ongoing environmental efforts.
Getting the conversation started
One of the biggest deterrents in making the switch to a more eco-friendly lifestyle is that it sounds like too much work. Given the hectic, fast-paced lives that we lead, is there really any time to take on more? Surprisingly, the road to sustainable living doesn’t require a grand, momentous gesture — you can start with something as simple as a conversation. You can start by uniting your community to recycle more responsibly in your neighbourhood. At your workplace, it can start with a thoughtful dialogue with the decision-makers in your organisation to find ways to make meaningful change, for instance, by making the switch to biodegradable or compostable garbage bags. On an individual level, it can start with simple research to understand the impact that everyday choices have on the environment.
The micro influences the macro
The climate crisis is often discussed in conjunction with lofty numbers: 12 billion tons of plastic waste will be generated by 2050 (that’s the equivalent of 35,000 Empire State Buildings, for reference). In the face of such unfathomable numbers, what can one individual do? Plenty, as it turns out. Since the evolution of time, the behaviour of a micro group of people has influenced the functioning of the macro.
If enough people are on the same page about eco-friendly living, companies, multinational organisations and governments have no choice but to comply. It all starts with that one decision to craft a lifestyle that is kinder to the environment.
Are you in?