I got this question from a friend the other day who knows I run this blog. It’s a good question. Even if one person tries to be as sustainable as possible, will it make a difference when other people are trashing the planet? Why put yourself through the difficulty and work of becoming more sustainable if others can always out consume what you reduce?
These are all questions that I have struggled with over the last year during my own sustainability journey. The process of becoming more sustainable can be difficult. I have had to experiment with different things, fail, and change what I am doing to make progress towards my goal.
I had to realize it was the difficulty of that process that was also the source of my frustration at my family and friends who would act in unsustainable ways. I didn’t want to give up on personal sustainability, but I wanted to start thinking about it in a way that didn’t cause me to burn out.
As I did more research, I learned that the real changes come when companies and organizations implement more sustainable practices. The scale that large companies create when manufacturing and distributing products has the biggest effect on how much waste we create as a society. That is when I started to think about personal sustainability from the mind of a consumer.
As an individual, I don’t have much of an effect. However, if I consistently buy products that are more sustainable and influence others to do the same, then eventually we can change what types of products are produced and the way they are manufactured.
You can already see the power of consumers in the food market. Now when you go to the supermarket there are a number of products that are plant based alternatives to meat. You can even find options like the Impossible Burger at major fast food chains. Conscious consumption is a powerful thing. Small decisions by you and I can change large industries.
Around this time, I also started attending business school. I learned about supply chains and manufacturing. I also learned about how different types of business models can affect a company’s sustainability. I started to think, what if I could combine the business knowledge I am gaining with my experiences of becoming more sustainable to make it easier for others who want to make the same change?
This is how EasyFootprint was born. I want to find better products and make that product information more transparent to customers. In helping you find and purchase more sustainable products we are signaling to companies that sustainability is something important to us. They will make these products more available and that will help society as a whole become more sustainable.
So yes! One person’s sustainability does matter. Consume wisely.
5 thoughts on “Does one person’s sustainability even matter?”
Consuming is only one way, each of us are capable of making a much larger individual contribution to sustainability. Strive for zero waste, two ways I do: pick up trash on the side of the road one day a month, or 3 pieces every day. Raise Earthworms for consuming garden, and kitchen waste, cardboard, paper, and all other organic waste. Use their castings in the garden as a natural fertilizer. It eliminates filling trash cans with valuable organic waste that is easily recycled. If a person doesn’t wish to raise worms start composting, eliminate the waste stream.
Agreed! I have questioned my sustainability choices in the past, as I try my best (but am also rather lazy, but I am working on it) however I think it’s very important to do what we can do when we can. Because that is how markets work,.. and if there’s more demand for sustainable products, more of these will be produced 🙂
Part of the reason I am trying to make product info easier to access is so that people can be lazier with sustainability and know they are still making a good choice. I don’t think it should have to be so hard and it’s not just the individual’s responsibility but companies too!
This! When I was eeading No Impact Man, Colin brought up the point I’ve not been able to put into words. ‘We have to at least TRY.’ If enough of us try, maybe it’ll inspire more to try and contribute more and more to widespread change.