Monday, September 27, 2010

Power ...

In past posts, I've written about the power we have as consumers. With every dollar we spend, we send a message ... we want certain items and would rather pass on others. In recent years, the public's spending habits have sent a strong message that environmentally friendly products and services are preferred. We've been willing to spend money on, for example, non-toxic cleansers and not so willing to buy cleansers that hurt our health and that of the environment. So manufacturers and retailers have listened ... and today, there are more healthy, "green" options, for us as consumers, than ever before.

Our spending habits are not, however, the only powerful tool we have at our disposal. We have our words ... spoken, written and shared.

Last year, after attending our local state fair, I wrote to the organizers, encouraging them to make this family friendly event a more earth-friendly event. I suggested that they provide recycle bins and ask food and drink vendors not to use Styrofoam containers. I also suggested that they provide more vegetarian food options since meatless meals are an excellent way to walk a little gentler on the earth. I posted about my opinions, I tweeted about them and I asked others to let their thoughts and opinions be heard. They did! This year, there were considerable improvements to the fair. I didn't see any Styrofoam, there were more vegetarian options available and receptacles for cans and bottles were provided. Yay!

Another example of the power of our words happened to me recently ... and while it may initially seem like a non-environmental issue, bear with me and I'll explain. I have a DSL Internet connection. It was working fine and then, all of a sudden, it began going down each day in the afternoon. I called my provider's help line and, after going through a standardized list of tests, was told that I had a bad modem. So, we purchased a new one ... and still had problems. I called the help line again ... and, after going through the same list of tests, was told my router was bad. So, we purchased a new one ... and still had problems. I called again and .... yes ... after the same list of tests was told that there was nothing they could do for me. What?? This is a large, well-known company ... and they were washing their hands of me. So, in total frustration, I got on Twitter and talked about it. Within two hours, I was being contacted by people who could actually help me. Within one day, the problem (a disconnected wire at the main box) was fixed. So, how does this relate to the environment? Well, we purchased devices that were probably unnecessary and buying more stuff means more stuff is manufactured which means more natural resources are used. To buy these devices we had to drive to a store (unnecessary fuel consumption). In the end, it was my words that generated a resolution.

The moral of this post is that our words have power. When we use them to draw attention to the environmental problems we face, good things happen. We can write posts, tweet or use facebook to draw attention to our concerns and encourage others to make a positive difference. We can also let our voice be heard through petitions on such sites as Care2 (for an excellent article on why online petitions work, click HERE).

The first step in making a change is awareness and education. We, as a society and particularly on this blog, have spent a lot of time becoming aware and learning about environmental issues. Now it's time to take action ... to flex our environmental muscle.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!