Your small actions won’t save the planet

I’m sure you know the drill as well as anyone. We’re told that if we do our part for the environment, if we recycle, eat more plants, maybe bring our own shopping bags to the store, buy a hybrid car and drive a little less, or even some more extreme actions, we can save the earth.

But what’s the point of a few people making small changes, when at the same time we’re hearing about the drought in California. How there’s one year of water left when the state grows a good amount of the produce consumed in the country but bottled water still reigns supreme and Nestle continues to bottle water in the state. What’s the point, when clothing manufacturers can continue to go to the poorest countries on Earth to make cheap clothes and dump chemicals in the water supply? (And cause the local spirits to rise up and speak through the women?) What’s the point when corporate entities have the power to influence legislation so they can continue to exploit people and land which isn’t in the CEO’s back yard?

When did consumerism come to trump citizenship? Instead of actually putting laws in place to halt and try to reverse the damage, now it’s buy more products which are Green (or “green”) so you can sleep easier at night. Easier to spend money (and possibly sneer at people who don’t) than fighting for bigger change.

Art by Shauna Aura Knight, used with permission

It’s easy to become depressed and apathetic when seeing this kind of information. It’s also tempting to don some kind of hair shirt or take up flagellation. And not everyone is able to take time off for rallies or actively work to lobby politicians. So what is there to do?

Go outside. Take the radical step of connecting with your local ecosystem. No matter what type of pagan (polytheist, etc.) you are, you do need the land around you. Even if you’re in a concrete jungle, there are still animals and plants and minerals around. Even if you’re a technopagan, your electronics would be useless without the metals inside, which come out of the earth. (and I’ll avoid discussion of the issues around rare earth mining today.) “Saving the earth” can seem remote if you have no idea of the land around you. Pick up some trash, identify the plants around you (and even find some you can use in your practice if you’re lucky), connect with the other primates living nearby even if they have forgotten or would deny any sort of connection with the ecosystem. Help them out if you can. Even a wave of acknowledgment can turn around their day.

Instead of trying to spend your way to a better planet, save a little money and work on making it a little better nearby. In this culture, it has become revolutionary.

With thanks to Alley Valkyrie for planting the seed and providing resources.

Additional resources
Sustainability is destroying the earth (though I have problems with some of Deep Green Resistance, like their gender essentialism and anti-trans* stance.)
The myths of sustainable consumption
Myths that support sustainability
The climate is changing

5 thoughts on “Your small actions won’t save the planet

  1. Mist42nz

    Well said. Each person doing things helps. Also look at other cultures to see how they do things and to the past or future to separate need from want or convenience. Much of our problem rises from overpopulation, yet zpg won’t reverse the population size in other countries.
    The best first step that needs to realized is we’re treated as livestock for corporations-help yourself and others who are aware to break the debt trap. Once you aren’t stuck in consumer debt you and your skill pool has resources and therefore choices – corporate destruction exist because consumers demand it. If debt ridden people need to buy the cheapest water to survive, corporation and government then have mandate to make it happen. If you aren’t debt ridden you and others can choose, and be able, to afford a higher moral ground.

  2. Jason L Morrow

    I feel this despair frequently. I have to remind myself that human animals behave just like our other animal fellows – use up all of our resources since we don’t have any predators any longer. That helps me have more compassion when it seems like things are going so wrong so fast. I’m doing just as you suggest by food gardening this year. It’ll only be my second season gardening.

  3. Debra

    I totally agree with the idea that spending less can help us to save more. Recycling is a positive step on so many levels. But the biggest lesson I continue to learn about spending less is that what I often think of as a “need” is truly a temporary “want”. I want a lot of things but I need a healthy planet. Thank you for your article, Soli.

  4. Ted Lowe

    Capitalism is our predator. We are literally consuming our way to death. This will take a while and get ugly… unless the oil runs out first, in which case the gardeners of the world will be more popular than rock stars.

  5. saffronrose

    I do try to “green my life” in a myriad of ways–and I spread information about it. There are quite a few corporations whose products I refuse to buy, I like to grow non-hybrid seeds for odd/heirloom veggies, and as a Californian, I’m not buying bottled water–when I’ve run out of mine in my insulated water bottle and am nowhere near enough to home–where the source is in California. I’m amazed that there has been no bans on bottling water from California, or the purchase of same. I’m a gardening botany geek, so I do know a lot about what grows around here–and what not to plant right now.

    I’m trying to get a stubborn landlord to take out the new (2012, and $2000, and unwilling to “let it die”, as he puts it) lawn and replace it with something attractively xeriscapic and definitely less expensive to install, and really inexpensive to maintain, like hardly any. Deaf ear there, but I’m willing to bet that upcoming state and water district regs are going to change that. I’ve already informed them that I will not pay 3rd tier costs, and any fines I might get for a too-green lawn are their responsibility. $250 for mostly lawn is not acceptable, considering how little lawn there is, and the high percentage increase in rent.

    We seem to have a family of lizards in the front of the house, which delights us no end. I’ve just been advised that, in our drought, we could put out a dish of water for birds and baby squirrels, of which we see quite a lot around here. Lots of corvids, so I should get some unsalted peanuts in shell for them, now and then (Rhyd Wildermuth’s fault!).

    I am very active on the topics/reasons of bees & other pollinators being hurt by synthetic chemical/petrochemical poisons, when so many other choices are available. I also work for easy access to affordable clean water in the world, which involves fighting companies who pollute or restrict access to clean water.

    I am also quite politically active, locally and globally, as much as I can. I am also an informed voter. This may not be enough, but it’s what I can do.

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