There’s varying schools of thought on the effectiveness of “small acts.” I’m speaking specifically about small acts of conservation, and on World Ocean’s Day, I’d say that conversation is pretty relevant, wouldn’t you?
I was listening to CBC radio the other day (for my US readers, this is the equivalent of NPR and it makes me so happy that it exists!) and on the show (begin at the 25:00 mark!) was a man by the name of Dan Kraus, who is with The Nature Conservancy of Canada. The topic of conversation was small acts of conservation (say that 5x fast…) but what really got me thinking was when someone phoned in with a comment, arguing for a different perspective on small acts. His thought process went something like this: if the small-scale changes are not part of a larger, master plan, then are they really worth doing, or are we just wasting our time?
At first, I bristled. Why are people so hell-bent on writing off the little stuff?!
But then I thought some more…and came to realize that maybe this caller was kind of right. We need to frame our small actions within the context of something bigger, a larger purpose, a goal. Even if that goal is just to eliminate single-use plastics from our own house. Without a goal, it’s hard to rally people (in the case of this plastics goal, our families), hard to motivate ourselves (why bother?) and nearly impossible to effect change (back to the good ‘ole Ziploc!).
Here’s the deal: large acts take time. In our own houses, they take time. On the scale of city-wide change, national change, and global change…even longer. We need to work together to make big changes happen and we need big changes to keep the world from totally collapsing.
But what about the in-between time? Like physically, in between writing legislation, and lobbying for change, and meeting with corporate executives and politicians, and holding town-hall meetings with concerned citizens, and running our houses. We still need to eat, to fuel our bodies for all these activism and outreach activities. We still need to get to-and-from all of these meetings. On weekends when we want to take a break from all the advocating, we kick back at a bar with friends, where we may sip on a cold beverage or two (or three, depending on how the advocating went…).
All of these moments require some kind of decision. A decision about what to eat, what to wear, what mode of transportation to take…and how to do all of those things.. so yes, those small acts really DO matter because it’s not like we can just say our piece in a meeting about climate change, then walk out the door and jump into an Escalade while chomping down on a CAFO-raised steak. Well, yes, I suppose we could…but then what the heck was the point of meeting to talk about climate change in the first place?
By doing our small acts of conservation daily, we are walking out walk; speaking our truth; rebelling against the man in our own ways…and these make the bigger acts that much more robust. We need the small to get to the big.
So today, on World Ocean’s Day, I will be sipping my juice through my glass straw because #plasticsux but I will also be thinking up ways to get the “straw-free” movement to Kelowna (any Canadians want to join me?). Ultimately, if I’m the only one refusing a straw here, nothing will change. But if the whole city goes straw free (hey, a girl can dream!), now that would be quite a big change, don’t you think?
Wherever you are, regardless of if there is an ocean near you, go out and celebrate in whatever way you can. Celebrate water, celebrate abundance, celebrate your freedom to CHOOSE the best thing for you and this wonderful, blue planet we get to call home.