Simple things really won’t save the Earth

If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behavior.
~Willisam Glasser

It’s true. Simple things aren’t going to “save” the planet (even if it needs saving). A disposable cup, one way or the other, is not going to make or break it.

But I don’t think the focus on “Ten Simple Things” lists is ultimately detrimental. I don’t think it’s distracting people from the real issues…if it weren’t for those lists, people would find something else to focus on. People will focus or not focus on issues as they see fit. If not provided with a distraction, they will find one. Saying that “Save the Whales” bumper stickers are keeping peoples’ heads in the sand is ignoring the fact that most people really don’t want to get involved. They’d much rather throw money at at problem, anyway.

But the simple things may just be engendering a way of looking at ourselves and our choices. A decision to reduce one’s waste may seem simple at first. A few disposable cups not used, a few glass bottles recycled. But that person could later push for, say, a move to encourage reusable glassware or a revamp of a local recycling center. Theoretically, of course. For every person who goes activist there are likely a hundred others who don’t (including myself).

But even in a strictly personal sense, things have to start somewhere. I did not suddenly decide to live the way I do. It starts slow and builds on itself. Well, it tends to. You could go the No Impact Man way and just do it all of the sudden, but I don’t really recommend that.

Yes, a lot of environmental degradation and habitat loss is completely out of our hands. But if we cannot control what it out of our hands, we can control what is in our hands. If you cannot influence anyone, you can at least influence yourself.


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