Not too long ago, I read an article – essay, more precisely – which made the point that indivdual efforts such as driving less, being conscientious about recycling, and so forth, may help a peson feel like they’re doing something to help the environment, but in reality these small efforts have a negligible effect on a massive problem.

It’s a valid point, but I think it misses a more important one.

Take re-useable shopping bags, for example. I used to bring home a half-dozen plastic bags from the supermarket every week. Now, I use two canvas totes, and bring home maybe one plastic bag per week.

There was an environmental cost in making the totes to be sure, so it’s not a perfect system. But for me alone, that’s roughly 250 plastic bags not winding up in a landfill.

Is my change in shopping habit going to change the world? No.

More importantly, as people gradually change their habits, becoming aware of the changes they can make, we’ll start to see a new awareness, so that when it comes time to make the bigger decisions – the ons that will have a very real impact – it will be more likely to consider them from an envronmental perspective.

Rather than pooh-pooh these small steps, I’d rather think of them as being the first steps toward environmental literacy.

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