It might be hard to take a stand today, or just to make choices that may seem slightly original. At least, I know it’s hard for me. I do ask myself a lot of questions and sometimes feel I am being extreme, but it’s probably also because people do make me feel this way, and sometimes, I believe, out of the guilt they feel.
See, the people who surround me are super smart and educated. They are committed to their values and think critically. Yet, when we talk about why I don’t eat meat anymore, or why I don’t think buying Apple products, H&M clothes or simply using Nespresso capsules makes sense environmentally or socially, they often try to end the discussion by saying “I don’t think we can change anything individually, I think nothing will change until our governments actually start doing something”.
You know what? I don’t think we’ll get to any major environmental change without our government actually changing laws, and challenging companies and institutions. But I don’t think this is a reason not to act individually. I actually think that the “I’ll wait until our goverments make the first step” argument is super counter-productive and lazy, because:
- it feels pretty good to think you are doing something that aligns with your beliefs, values and commitments.
- Companies are powerful engines for change and lobbyists, and they need to listen to consumers – therefore, as a consumer, I have the power to make them change, even slightly, even superficially.
- Politicians try to be popular, so they can get reelected. It’s rare to see a politician who actually has a long-term plan, and therefore, who actually tries to address climate change or other pressing, but long-term, environmental issues. So, a growing bunch of citizens who are concerned with environmental policies, sustainability and climate change might have their ear, especially if they are active and vocal about it.
- When governments actually decide to implement environmental policies, they need citizens to participate in them and to make them successful. If citizens are ready for these changes because they are aware of the local and global environmental issues and what’s at stake, and have maybe even begun changing their lifestyles, then these policies are more likely to be successful.
So yeah. I really don’t think there is ever a reason to not do something. And I have done nothing (I still continue to not do enough) for a very long time, so I know how it feels, this kind of guilt that is easy to justify and forget by just saying that we are not responsible, others are. But it does feel better to take this stand.