You Make a Difference

You’ve heard the argument—”Until Big Business stops polluting, nothing will change.” Or perhaps, “Until Big Business stops polluting, nothing will change so neither will I.” Or “We need systemic change and government regulation.” How about this one? “Business should not hold individuals responsible for their mess.” And “Without industry on board, personal changes don’t make a difference.”

Of course we need systemic change. Of course industry should stop polluting. Of course we should not bear the responsibility to pick up after Coca-Cola when it behaves like a petulant teenager leaving smelly socks, half-eaten sandwiches and rolling papers strewn about our house. But unless we do something how will anything change?

Because I don’t foresee Nestlé and Unilever suddenly realizing they should stop turning the Earth into a toilet as long as doing so enables them to turn a profit. Only until they feel pressure from us will they change.

Trader Joe’s to reduce plastic in stores

At the end of 2018, Trader Joe’s announced that it would make “several improvements geared towards making packaging more sustainable in an effort to eliminate more than 1 million pounds of plastic from stores.” You can read about that here. (We’ll have to wait and see how much greenwashing this will involve.)

Why did Trader Joe’s do this? Because over 100,000 people signed a Greenpeace petition telling them to. Because people all over the world are freaking out about plastic pollution. Because millions of us refuse to buy our food wrapped in excessive, obscene and unnecessary, chemical-leaching, ocean-destroying plastic packaging.

Trader Joe’s announced changes because grassroots activism works.

You are not alone

When you sit in your little corner of the world, going about your daily business—perhaps shopping with cloth produce bags or preventing food waste or nurturing a sourdough starter—you may feel isolated and wonder if your personal actions matter. Know that you belong to a grassroots movement that will not be stopped. Companies are listening. Governments will eventually.

Recently, I asked my followers on Instagram to tell me about some of their waste-reducing successes. I had dozens of responses and found them all so inspiring. I’ve randomly included just some of them in this post.

We all need some good news. Just look at some of the actions people around the world have taken. This is what change looks like.

The faded response (column 1, row 2) means I shared it on Instagram Stories

12 Replies to “You Make a Difference”

  1. Thank you for this. I recently watched a documentary about the fast fashion industry, how all our resources are being used for excessive cotton production, and how companies continue to make hundreds of millions of garments each year. It was a dread-filled hour. Looking at the micro changes helps, because the macro problems can be so paralyzing.

    I’ve definitely decreased my meat consumption over the years, and scaled back my dairy consumption. I’ve started using jars and reusable bags at the bulk food store. I’ve even started collecting food scraps for the green bin. Small steps.

  2. thatfoodguy62 says: Reply

    A wonderful set of testimonials. It’s amazing how little suggestions can multiply into tangible actions. I’ve received several comments like these and they are totally rewarding. Thanks.

  3. Michelle Snarr says: Reply

    Great post. Inspirational. I really liked the grid with all those ideas from all those people.

  4. I have been wanting to write you a note to thank you so I will here… you’ve inspired us to buy glass bottle milk (small plastic cap we can’t avoid) and use it to make our own yogurt. We’re cooking more dried beans, and bringing reuseable containers to buy coffee beans and other bulk good when we can. We’re making our own sauerkraut with cabbage from the farmers market and buying lots of zero-packaging veggies there. We still make a lot more trash than I’d like but hopefully it’ll be less and less.

  5. I actually emailed TJ’s last April stating I would not be shopping there anymore due to my lifestyle change. I asked them WHY they wrap things in plastic that didn’t need to be? Tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, etc. And I stated I will not be stepping foot into another TJ’s until the plastic stopped.

    I am not zero waste YET, but I am in the reducing journey. Before we were taking out a full garbage bag everyday, but now we are every two-three days. I have a long way to go, but I am so thrilled with the progress!!

    1. Same here. I just started ZW this year (well, plastics are the first to go in 2019 for me) and I refuse to buy any veggies and fruits in plastic. Still need to go into TJ’s for a few other things, but happy to see how the packaging might change.

  6. No Makeup Mama says: Reply

    Thank you for this. I need to save this and reread it every once in a while to remind myself that small changes can make a difference and all that I am doing is not in vain. 👍🏻

  7. This is wonderful! Everyone who does any of these things is an encouragement to others who are just thinking about it, wondering how to make it work, or just feel silly. This is how you change the world, by changing culture. Right now we are the freaks, enjoy it while you can!

  8. Thank you for this! I’m trying to take steps to reduce waste and this article has given me some great ideas!

  9. Wow – It is so nice to read other people’s successes! Thank you for sharing. It is encouraging and motivating. I’ve been striving to live more intentionally. I’ve been able to make more eco friendly changes to my habits that I’m really proud of. I’ve been way more vocal about it in person and on social media. LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog! I am learning so much!

  10. When I got married 9 years ago, I bought my beautiful wedding dress (that had beads and a train!) at the thrift store for $50! When I came out of the dressing room in it, my best woman burst into tears! About a month after our wedding, I took the dress back to the same thrift store with a note saying what a wonderful wedding I’d had in it and I wanted the dress and that joy to go to another person.

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Bravo! That is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it. And for sharing your dress 🙂
      ~ Anne-Marie

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