“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
– Vince Lombardi
I often come across statements that claim individual actions don’t matter. That “recycling” or “reducing my wasteful habits alone” will not make a significant difference.
I would challenge this belief, as it can be a damaging frame of mind. Why? Because if everyone shares the same sentiment that their individual actions do not have a positive impact (or vice versa), it can make it harder to spur change. If humanity thinks their efforts do not hold enough power to create change, we’ve lost sight of the fact that small steps do make a difference.
This is especially true when millions, if not billions, of people worldwide share similar belief systems. Imagine if everyone had a similar frame of mind about reducing waste or investing in renewables. Perhaps our world would be in a better place.
I believe it’s critical to frame my mindset around how the small actions I take genuinely make a difference—especially if like-minded individuals throughout the globe are taking similar steps.
The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change opened my eyes to the fact that if all humanity moves in the same direction, a noticeable and positively impactful change is possible. According to the report, as shared by The Guardian, “Avoiding the worst ravages of climate breakdown is still possible, and there are ‘multiple, feasible and effective options’ for doing so…”
I see this as an opportunity for us to acknowledge that our actions matter and every bit of effort is necessary.
According to the report from the IPCC:
- Coal must be phased out effectively, and new fossil fuel infrastructure expansion is not where efforts need to be focused.
- Methane emissions must be reduced by a third (something Brightmark is trying to tackle rapidly through our renewable natural gas projects).
- Protecting the natural world, like forests, and preserving soil is critical. More trees need to be planted in tandem with weaning off fossil fuels.
- All humanity, which includes individuals, businesses, and everything in between, needs to invest significantly now in a low-carbon world six times more than today’s rate.
- All sectors of the global economy, such as energy, transport, infrastructure, and food (like food waste and animal agriculture), must change quickly and dramatically.
- Technology is the answer to solving many environmental problems, such as hydrogen fuel and carbon capture and storage.
While much of the report references actions that large entities must undertake, it’s important to remember that various groups of individuals make up those entities. Furthermore, each positive individual action (reducing food waste, living low impact, saving energy, investing in sustainable solutions, and shopping sustainably) reduces these negative impacts.
I care about the future of current and future generations—my kids, colleagues, friends, and the creatures that walk this Earth. I want to leave the world better than I found it—to accomplish that, everyone needs to acknowledge that their actions, big or small, make a difference.
Creating a brighter future takes us all.
With hope and optimism,