environment life zerowaste

The case for individual action

There’s a lot a lot going on politically right now that is super stressful and I totally understand if the environment is the last thing on your mind (even though… environmental issues are totally race and gender issues too..).

Anyway I’m going to write about this as a coping mechanism and I hope you’ll read it and here we go.


One of the main arguments I’ve seen against taking steps to become an environmentally friendly individual is, “Corporations are to blame and you’re telling me using a straw or not being vegan is killing the earth?” Or something like that.

This is fair, to a certain extent. No, you using one straw isn’t going to take the earth down, I would hope. And I know already that it takes privilege to make sustainable choices. But here’s the thing.

I’ve only seen privileged people making that argument. And I think it’s unfair.

Why do you think corporations and governments still run on anti-eco policies and practices? Because of demand. The demand is there.

Brands don’t use sweat shops because they like making people poor and sick. Brands use sweat shops because you demand they make cheap gear and they know they can profit off of this demand.

Food is packaged because you demand convenience. The same can be said for paper coffee cups (those are recyclable, btw) and all to-go containers and straws.

Just a few examples, but you get my point. And just for the record, a certain percentage of the toll we have taken on the earth does come from individual action.

If you’ve used this argument in the past, I want to challenge you to rethink it.

I’m choosing sustainability through individual action because, if enough of us do this, demands are going to change and we will get what we want.

I’m choosing ethically made clothing because, if enough of us do this, I won’t have to risk other people’s lives and well being so that I can buy a pair of jeans.

I’m choosing sustainability because it is hypocritical to write to my political representatives about their actions when I’m not taking the steps to change myself.

I’m choosing to say no to straws, plastic, trash (when I can) because, even though I feel small and even though I fail a lot, I know that there are thousands of other people out there doing the same thing. And if 1,000 of us reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our trash usage, that’s something.

Imagine, all of the people that have fast food on their lunch hours. That’s 5 drinks per day, maybe 50 weeks per year. That’s 250 cups and straws going in the trash. What if that one person switched to a reusable cup and said no to a lid and straw? That’s 250 fewer cups and straws going in the trash.

What if 100 people did this?

That’s 25,000.

You may feel small and inconsequential. I feel that way a lot. And then I remember I’m not the only one trying and I realize my efforts are incredibly important and needed.

I want you to get on board with that too.



P.S.  NYC Meatless Monday! Every kid in NYC public schools will skip meat during lunch one day a week. This is good news for physical health and will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the meat industry. Individual action leads to policy change, people!

P.P.S. I know I mainly referenced physical trash/plastic above, but it is NOT the only thing you can change. There are many ways to be sustainable and eco-friendly and human-friendly and ethical and I hope you’ll do some research and figure out what works for you.


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