It may not be immediately apparent, but our personal choices now carry more weight than ever. Since we obviously can’t rely on legislation alone to solve climate issues, it’s high time for each and every one of us to begin fully exercising our right to choose.
In a world driven by unsustainable practices and volatile political structures, it’s easy to feel small and insignificant. It’s easy to look at the environmental issues threatening our planet’s future and think to ourselves, “What can I do? I’m just one person, and these problems are so big, they're beyond my reach.”
The recent news of the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, while quite disheartening, actually presents a unique opportunity for us to make our own agreement with the Earth. It may not be immediately apparent, but our personal choices now carry more weight than ever. Since we obviously can’t rely on legislation alone to solve climate issues, it’s high time for each and every one of us to begin fully exercising our right to choose.
Changing The Way We Buy
It’s an undisputable fact that one thing drives the modern world: Money. When we buy things, we’re actually voting—Corporations create, remove, and modify their products and services according to the tastes and demands of the general consumer market, i.e., you and I. By simply buying more consciously on a local level, we can have a huge effect on the course of the future on a global scale.
For example, do you know that the largest organic food distributor in the U.S. is Costco? Until two years ago, Walmart was actually the largest. Just five or six years ago, organic foods were the last thing you would have expected to see at these retail giants. Walmart becoming the largest purveyor of organic foods represented a radical shift: Not only did Walmart have to find new vendors, organize different distribution systems and change the layout of their stores, but they made these changes very quickly—in a span of about two years. In only a couple of years, they became the top seller of organic foods. What do you think the driving force of these changes were? Were the CEOs of these companies inexplicably fascinated by organic food?
They were motivated by profit, of course, and this example very clearly shows that the driving force behind large-scale industrial change is consumer demand. No company or organization is so powerful that it can ignore consumer demand and choice.
Thinking Locally vs. Thinking Globally
When we go to the store and buy a steak, we rarely think of the process that brought the meat from farm to table. We tend not to consider the amount of grains grown to feed livestock, the emissions used to transport cargo, etc. That seemingly tiny package actually has a large environmental footprint. For example, every four oz. of lamb consumed is equivalent to driving seven miles in your car. That’s an average of about 20 kilograms of CO2 released into the atmosphere for every pound of lamb. Every 2 pounds of lamb produced requires 2,314 gallons of water. You can see why this is a problem.
Make Your Voice Heard
The best way to start making change is by doing our best to co-create a culture of mindful living. Start doing your own research before you buy—not only in terms of food, but also in terms of household products, clothing, and machinery—anything that is manufactured or produced has a varying ecological footprint attached to it.
Here just a few of the many “soft” changes that have a far-reaching impact:
Flying less: According to New York Times writer John Tierney, “To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger round trip flight between New York and London, you’d have to recycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles."
Eliminating plastic: In the age of plastic, everything is more convenient, quicker, and easily portable. These upsides come with the massive downside of being non-biodegradable, and recycling can’t keep up with the sheer amount of plastic being produced and discarded every day.
Avoiding the top 5 food offenders: Lamb, beef, corn, soybeans, and palm oil are the most environmentally destructive foods in terms of fossil fuel, grain, and water use, not to mention the amount of deforestation involved in their production and distribution.
It’s important to use this power of informed buying to send a far-reaching message to the world: Our values are changing, and our utmost concern should be for the well-being of the planet and all who inhabit it. We want to live sustainably. We want a healthy, prosperous, and long-lasting world for ourselves and our future generations.
Earth Citizens Organization (ECO) is a non-profit that promotes natural health and mindful living for a sustainable world. An Earth Citizen is a person who understands that we are all citizens of the Earth and takes responsibility for its well-being.