Why Personal Change Matters

I talked a lot about our fossil fuel dependency last month, and how that issue (and others) can be so discouraging that we don’t want to do anything at all. But we can make a difference.

Plastic bag wasteland

Here’s why personal change matters, according to Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life*:

1. Stop doing harm

I think of this so often. We are all connected – humans, animals and plants. Everything we do touches another life. Are we doing our best to maintain responsible, compassionate relationships with the other life forms on earth? Are we making sound choices for the future of this planet and everyone/everything on it?

2. Protect health

Whatever we do that negatively impacts the environment ultimately comes back to us. We can’t escape our actions and the impact they will have on our health and the health of our loved ones.

3. Support ethical businesses

It just makes sense to use your dollars to support businesses making an effort to be environmentally sustainable and economically and socially ethical. These are the businesses who are more concerned with their customers’ welfare than they are with making a profit. These are the businesses that build cooperative communities. These are the businesses that create symbiotic relationships and are interested in “WE” rather than “ME.”

4. Develop our own ingenuity and self-reliance

This is all about making a choice not to participate in a throw-away, single-use society. When nothing is made to last and planned obsolescence is the name of the game, how refreshing to be able to repair our possessions and continue to use them. We are not at the mercy of the consumer-driven machine!

5. Examine our values

Making personal changes is a wonderful outlet for our creativity. What do you want to explore? As you try new things, you start to further uncover your true values and can make choices accordingly.

6. Ask for what we want

This is something so simple, and yet so many of us don’t even think to try it! Ask, ask, ask. We can’t expect to get what we want if we don’t ask. Write to you representatives, write to your favorite coffee shops, write to your grocery stores and local government. What do you want? Ask. You may not get it right away, but you’ll be led in the right direction!

7. Motivation to work for systemic change

All the efforts you put into personal change cause you to feel invested in the issues and therefore, motivated to keep going, to see it through to the end! There’s so much to be done – so we need this motivation!

8. Set an example for others

Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking that your actions go unnoticed. Every time I go to a coffee shop and remember to bring my own cup and decline a straw, people take notice. Each day, everyone I work with asks me whether or not I rode my bike that day. My 5th graders asked if I was poor and didn’t own a car – I told them, no, I do own a car, but I choose to ride my bike because it’s more environmentally friendly. And to my delight, another teacher told her 1st grade class that she admired me for riding my bike and saving fossil fuels. It’s so encouraging to see young children absorb this kind of information and witness adults in their lives taking action for what they believe in. This is the greatest gift we can give to the next generation.

*Please note that the list here was taken directly from Beth Terry’s video (above). The notes about each list item were my own personal thoughts about the subject.