Change Your Lightbulb…And Then Some
In addition to making our voices heard, we can each make climate-friendly choices in our personal lives, whether by buying energy efficient appliances, switching to electricity generated by renewable energy, or taking public transportation.
Reading this on the We Can Solve It website (I know, second mention of this site) reignited my insistence to drive home a particular point: there is no “simple” solution to a complex problem. You must start by looking at the roots of the problem for the solution. In this case, I see the main root of the problem to be our global economic system. If consumerism is one of the causes of our predicament, then insisting that consumers switch from one product to another, without changing their lifestyles at all, will not solve the problem.
This blog is about solutions, so here I go. There are many levels on which we can make a difference. Some people go to protests, some write to their politicians, others educate their friends, still others write, run for office, become a teacher or therapist, or become a shareholder in a corporation. I see a lot of waste; ours is a culture of waste. So if by “change your lightbulb,” you actually mean, “practice a more sustainable lifestyle with lest waste,” then I completely agree. But that’s not how a lot of people see it.
We can make changes in our everyday lives, and for some of us, they have to be incremental. Some of us will not budge any other way. So you start by recycling. Then you start buying products with less packaging, such as buying in bulk. Then you try to figure out what items you actually need, and you consume less and less. You get into a habit of less consumption, and it becomes easier to find joy in subsistence living. Perhaps you get tired of buying grocery veges and decide to plant your own garden, if you have the resources. Of course, this could take years, or even decades to do. But it’s worth it.
Then it’s time to acknowledge the fact that we don’t live in a vacuum. Action on a communal level makes a bigger difference. Living by example helps raise awareness to a certain extent, but there is more you can do. The actions I mentioned above (such as writing to politicians) are good examples. If you live in a democracy, or if your country claims to be democratic, take advantage of that! The whole purpose of democracy is that citizens can change the course of their country.
Finally, there are specific societal and policy changes, and lifestyle choices, that we can make. Specifics are important, because they help us find a goal to move towards. In later posts, I will talk about Transition Towns, permaculture, cohousing, L.E.T.S. schemes, and other practical, local initiatives that can have a powerful impact. There are examples of all of these things all over the world. Local communities, once broken by the nuclear family age, are coming together out of necessity. It’s happening in both the “developed” and “developing” nations. We are beginning to embrace our nature as social creatures once again, and I have to say, it’s about time.