It’s too easy to ride the bench…

When you look at sustainability as a whole, it’s overwhelming. The scale of such an immense problem as global warming makes us, as individuals, feel powerless. I’m 1 out of 7 Billion people on this planet. There really isn’t anything I can do except wag my finger at those corrupt politicians and fat cat businessmen making money off the destruction of our planet.

That’s why, year after year, despite our desire to be involved, we hang on the sidelines.

Yes, I’m guilty too. The truth is, I don’t have the time, energy, or know how to fight every battle. If you work and have a social life and want to have some free time to do the things you enjoy, you’re not left with a ton of time to be an effective activist for more than a few causes.

But that’s okay. You don’t have to play every position and be the MVP. You can be a role player and still enjoy success.

Sustainability is a team effort that won’t be solved by one global treaty or a new sustainable clothing brand. We need everyone tackling the issues they can. Let the politicians be politicians and the revolutionaries be revolutionaries. Let’s stop wagging our fingers and start using our talents to drive change.

Yes, some things are out of our control. But we can control the things we buy, the causes we support, and the habits we form. We can make an effort to do good in the work we do. We can donate some of our free time to a good cause. We can be informed citizens that make good decisions.

We should be confident that our actions make a difference and even if you don’t truly believe that, maybe you can take comfort in the fact that you’re making an effort to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

If you’re ready to get off the sidelines and into the game, do two things.

  1. Be generally informed. Read a few books, watch a few documentaries. You’ll learn something new and be glad you did. Understanding makes doing way easier.
  2. Do what you do best. It’s not enough to just be informed, you have to take action. A common finger wag is that people think they don’t have anything to contribute. They are wrong. No matter what your job or talent is, there is a way to utilize it to have a positive impact on the world.

Here are a few examples.

  • Activists – Many are weekend warriors, standing up for what they believe in by attending events and rallies in their spare time. Together, they raise awareness and promote change on a grass roots level. You don’t have to quit your job and join the Sea Shepherd crew to have an impact. Find a cause you believe in and join a group on meetup.
  • Social Media Managers – SM is very influential. If you can’t get clients who are doing something good for the world, volunteer some of your time to a cause that you believe in. They need your help.
  • Teachers – Today everyone has the chance to be a teacher. People around the world are sharing their knowledge over the web to collaborate and help others solve problems. You can start a blog or YouTube channel and become a teacher today. Are you making your own soap? Upcycling pool toys? Eating local? You can influence others.
  • Artists – Inspire and raise awareness through your art.
  • Waiters – The food industry is huge and it’s moving toward healthier, more sustainable options. An informed waiter can help educate customers about local or sustainable options on the menu and an inspired waiter may even be able to influence what gets added to the menu or where the restaurant sources its ingredients.
  • Admin Assistants – Assistants make a large proportion of decisions in an office and they can take the initiative to “green” it. Initiate recycling, buy fair trade coffee,
  • Researchers – Add your name to the ledger of human progress. Every piece of information we gather about our world contributes to our overall knowledge that we can leverage to make better decisions. Follow the rules of science and make your results public so others can continue to build upon it.
  • Businessmen – Profit isn’t the only bottom line. Make sustainability a priority in your business or lend your knowledge to a worthy cause as an adviser/volunteer.
  • Sales Reps – Work for a responsible company like Patagonia or start convincing people not to buy your product. If you get fired, go get a job at a responsible company.
  • Engineers – Build sustainability into your projects. Tech engineers can join startups or attend hackathons in their spare time to help solve some of our pressing problems through tech.

Let’s get in the game. Let’s be generally aware of how our actions impact the world and let’s act on the causes we are passionate about. Just because we don’t have time to start a community group doesn’t mean we shouldn’t join one. There’s room to make an impact in every aspect of our lives, and it adds up quick.

Chances are, your actions will inspire others around you too which will further increase your impact, so you can stop wagging your finger in disappointment and start raising your fist in triumph.

Get in the game!

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