Going Green With Baby Steps

An open letter to the environmental community:

Earth in HandsI fully believe that one person can make a difference and I fully believe that small steps are often necessary to effect change. I am not sure if it is human nature to always be competitive, to always try to outperform their neighbors, but in this modern society I see a competitiveness that is disturbing.

There is a prevalence of judgment and superiority revolving around both parenting and green living. No longer is it considered enough to try our best, to try something new, or to do anything on a smaller scale at first.

Businesses take steps to be more eco-friendly and are not lauded for their effort, but decried for not going far enough. Some of that may be deserved. There are numerous cases of greenwashing that should be called out.

Shouldn’t any real meaningful steps made by an entity, that in its nature has much more impact on the people and environment than any single individual, be encouraged?

Positive encouragement leads to more positive change.

How many people do you know that have indicated it is too difficult to go green in their personal lives? It is too expensive, too overwhelming, or too much of an imposition on their lifestyle. These are also the same people who want to leave this world a better place for our children and grandchildren, they are just not sure how best to do that-or are fearful of the judgment they might receive for trying something new, and perhaps failing.

These are the people who could make a significant difference on their impact just by making a few small changes, really even one small change. Shouldn’t this be encouraged on a large-scale?

Understanding the consequences to our decisions we make every day – on what to use, what to buy – reduces some of the impact we have on the lives of those around us, from neighbors to those half a world away, and is what drives many of us to make the changes we have made so far and strive to do even more.

The majority of people want the world to be better than it is. I have to believe that. The key is to start small and gently encourage others to do the same. Most people want gradual change, not drastic, and that can be incredibly significant. Understanding the consequences of not encouraging the baby steps is what is going to change the world.

I am not saying that we should reduce our expectations of what we are all capable of, but we have to start somewhere. If we need to start small, then it is a step in the right direction. What baby steps have you taken recently? What baby steps would you encourage others to try?

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Going Green With Baby Steps — 14 Comments

  1. I've been growing most of my own vegetables and using solar energy to reduce fossil fuel usage. I shop locally and use bags I made from old upholstery pieces from the cloth store. But, my main focus is in trying to bring solar cooking to the mainstream cook. Come visit when you can — and bring your friends! Big things will be happening in the next few months!

  2. Fantastic job!

    I think another thing important to keep in mind is where your local community is on all of this.

    Western PA, where I live, is a slow approacher to anything green. People here are more likely to make an environmentally friendly change when it gives them a financial (or other tangible) benefit.

    When I started writing about environmental change last year on my blog, I called it "Small, Simple Steps"—and they were such common things, like switching your lightbulbs, etc.

    We're a little unusual in this area (we built a straw bale home), so I'm always careful to point out to people that we don't expect a rash of green building in our area, but that there are a lot of other teeny weeny things people can do everyday that will add up to a difference.

    It really resonated with me that you discourage people from being critical of anyone's step in the right direction. Any step at all is a positive step. :)

    Thank you for writing on this today.

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  4. I totally agree with you. Every small act should be celebrated. Who knows, the person who buys some things local may look for more local items once somebody has congratulated them on it. The meatless Monday may change to meatless Monday and Wednesday once they get used to the change and realize the cost savings and other benefits. We need optimism, we need enthusiasm, but most of all.. we need hope. Without hope these is no impetus for change.

    I love your blog, I will be reading more!

  5. I think the problem you’re seeing is related to a very human tendency to want to one-up, and it happens in every movement. (Case in point: as a vegetarian, my harshest critics are vegans.) I don’t think it’s bad to educate people so that they are capable of making better-informed decisions, but that education should always be paired with support and encouragement. Although I admit to getting frustrated by the people who still seem to believe that switching a lightbulb will save the planet, my overall position is that anyone who is actively taking steps to lighten her impact and continues to look for new ways is worth cheering on.

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  7. Thank you for the great post. I completely agree with baby steps and encourage it. I know it’s not easy, can be very overwhelming to change so many things in ones life when we’re so used to doing things a certain way. I’ve been through this twice in my life now, once I failed & now I’m succeeding, yay! And I’m sharing my successes with the world on my blog, on facebook, by talking to friends. They know it’s been a long road and I think that makes it seem doable to them by also taking small steps. Every little step should be celebrated! I can’t believe how far I’ve come and as someone who finds it hard not to be all or nothing I still feel I’m not doing enough and have to be reminded of how far I’ve come, always will, but it drives me:-). Thank you to everyone with those small steps, they’re making a big difference!

    • I have been thinking about how to encourage the baby steps even in my own home. I definitely think sharing your intentions makes you more accountable and sharing your successes allows others to share in the joy. Lots of luck from someone who also tends to lean towards an all or nothing approach! Joy in the small steps.

  8. I have been thinking of going green as I have seen all the media currently endorsing it and how I am deeply moved by all the actions everybody has done. But yes, it’s very hard to turn green overnight, and I often discouraged because I can’t compare to those experts in green living.
    You’re right every little step counts and should be celebrated!

  9. Growing my own garden and recycling is a what we do…and giving back is a wonderful thing to do to help.

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