Recycling the idea of environmentalism
We need to recycle how we think about environmentalism before big changes can be made. Image: Flickr/TinyTall/CC-BY-SA

Just about everyone has heard at least part of the environmentalism message. With so many options, though, it can feel easier to just not make a choice and do nothing. The secret to truly recycling the idea of environmentalism into something that can work, though, is to just chose one thing at a time.

Where environmentalism went wrong

Environmentalism as a modern movement has been around since about the 1970s and 1980s. That is when the call to “save the planet” started getting very loud. Activists chained themselves to trees, recycling became the buzzword, and Earth Day was founded. Somewhere in the last four decades, though, the message has gone from “reduce, reuse, recycle” to a laundry list nobody can keep track of.

Why changing everything won’t work

The biggest problem with trying to “be environmentally friendly” is how overwhelming the change can be. With so many things to do – sort garbage, use reusable bags, drive less, use cloth diapers, cut smog and a million other things — it just feels like too much. Much like creating and sticking to a budget, there are so many moving parts it is easier to just not do anything. This decision paralysis is what stands in the way of the changes that need to be made.

Getting started is the important part

With so many things to do and so much to change, it feels easier to just not do anything. The thing is, though, even the smallest changes, on a large scale, can have a huge impact. Rather than trying to change everything to make an impact, change one thing at a time. It takes only two weeks to develop a habit, but only give yourself a new, small task once every two months. Think about what is most important and easiest for you, and start there. For example, try using a reusable coffee mug when you get a latte. Take public transportation to work one day a week. Choose organic fruits and vegetables rather than regular. Plant some basil in your kitchen window. Big changes are tough, overwhelming and sometimes expensive. The small changes, though, are what environmentalism is about — living in harmony with your environment. Make a few small changes each year, and you will soon find yourself being the change, rather than watching the change.

Post By bryanh (1,420 Posts)

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