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.