One of the reasons I hear sometimes for not worrying about how a particular person can be more environmentally friendly in their day to day life is that the difference isn’t big enough. Some people feel that we need the big corporations to take steps first, and that should be the focus.
No doubt, that would be a wonderful thing. But it’s not exactly easy to convince big corporations to do such things without a pretty impressive social movement behind it. They’re businesses, after all. It’s easier for them to do things that make money than for currently abstract ideas of what will happen if they don’t make changes.
Yes, your individual changes and sacrifices only make the smallest of differences when big ones are needed. But they’re a part of what it takes to make those bigger changes.
Admittedly, not all the changes are exactly ideal. There’s more pressure for companies to carry organic goods, for example, and so the standards for organic have changed and been made easier to reach.
“Green” goods get marketed more so that people can play at being green while enjoying their usual shopping habits without really looking at whether or not the product is needed or produced in a way that is minimally damaging to the environment.
There’s a reason why green consumerism is a bit of a problem.
On the plus side, individual interest is probably a big part of why reusable shopping bags are so easy to find now. Many of the stores I go to even have more interesting ones now than the plain ones with a simple store logo on them.
Not to mention government rules protecting the environment. The rules may get weakened and strengthened depending on the party in office, but at least they’re there!
In so many ways you can say that if we individuals don’t care, there will never be a reason for corporations or governments to care. And if they don’t care, they won’t change. And if they won’t change, what will?
It can be frustrating dealing with people who don’t see how their small contributions can add to your small contributions can add to other people’s small contributions. But the difference is more than just the carbon you produce, the plastic you avoid and so forth. It’s the momentum built.