We live in a world with many issues and problems. This isn’t news to most of us. If you look at things from a high level you’ll see international conflict/war, poverty/hunger, environmental issues, political corruption and numerous other important issues to consider. Environmental problems are vast and include oil spills, invasive species, oceans filling with garbage, nuclear plant failures, carbon emissions, endangered species etc. The list goes on and on, and for most of us it can quickly become overwhelming thinking about these issues and what we might be able to do to help remedy the situation. We know these problems exist and we want to help correct them but often feel helpless to really make a difference.
Many of us try to make daily decisions to limit our contributions to the problem somewhat. We recycle what we can to divert garbage from landfill, we don’t litter, and we don’t spray hazardous chemicals on our lawns and gardens. Maybe some of us even grow our own organic vegetables, drive an electric car or have installed solar panels to reduce reliance on outside energy sources. Individually this helps in a small way and we feel better for knowing we’re making an effort to improve the situation. But many of us also have a nagging feeling that what we’re doing isn’t really enough. That as a society we need to do better, but the problems seem so overwhelming that we don’t know where to begin or how to make real difference.
And often this is where our thinking/action on the subject ends. The problems seem so big that it often seems we’re helpless to affect any real change. We leave things in the hands of our government and the big corporations who create the products we buy, the power we consume, and the food we eat. Unfortunately our capitalist society and governmental systems reward short term profitability over long term sustainability. Corporations have an obligation to create shareholder value, in many cases at the expense of the environment. Government officials act in a way that is most likely to get them voted back in when the next election rolls around. That means doing what the most powerful lobbyists push for – those with money – and guess what; that’s those big corporations fighting for shareholder profits.
So as consumers in a capitalist society what can we do? One of the most powerful methods is to vote with your wallet. Buy the organic vegetables that were grown without the use of pesticides/poison. Avoid purchasing products that have excess packaging or packaging that isn’t recyclable. Stop buying products/services from organizations that you know have poor track records when it comes to the environment or other societal implications. Avoid purchasing products containing hazardous chemicals (cleaners, pesticides etc.). Buy products from those who have the overall health of our world embedded into the mission of everything they do and who support full disclosure product labeling so we know exactly what is in the products/foods we buy and how it affects us and our world.
If enough people were to take these steps it would eventually start to affect the profitability of the offending organizations enough to force them to change their ways. Perhaps this seems like a simplification of the problem/solution, and yes there are many complicating factors, but at a basic level we do have the ability to influence things if a critical mass of people were to embrace these types of choices.
I warned you this would be a serious post and I don’t profess to be any better than anyone else out there when it comes to our household’s dealing with these issues. But it seems to me we need to do better for the sake of our world.