When faced with astronomically huge issues like climate change, plastic pollution, and natural disasters, the magnitude of the problems we face can be enough to stop us from taking action. When the issues we face are so huge, why bother when our tiny efforts won’t make a difference?
It’s true that one person can’t save the whole planet. Even if we had unlimited time and resources, another country may disagree with the solutions to the problems we view as so critical to the health of the planet.
What we can do is make a difference at the local level. If everyone simply looked after their own home, neighborhood, or city, the world would be a better place.
How to help in your own community
The first step in making a difference is to nail down what change you most want to see. Sometimes this is easy. If you want to support wildlife for example, passing out seeds for a butterfly garden to your neighbors can transform a relatively lifeless neighborhood into a habit for pollinators in just a season.
What’s more, including information on why pollinators like the flowers included (butterflies prefer the color purple, and to have a relatively flat flower to sit on) can help as neighbors can take that knowledge with them if they ever leave.
Explaining what pesticides can kill butterflies can also help make the neighborhood gardens safer, as many people aren’t aware that spraying for one bug might harm another.
Narrowing Your Focus
Sometimes it’s easy to see how to make changes on a local level. If you worry about litter, picking it up around your city, neighborhood or home clearly removes litter from the world. Forming a litter removal task force can help grow it into a movement.
What happens when your focus isn’t easy to help with on a micro level? Perhaps you are passionate about whales and want to help them, but you live in a landlocked state.
Once you know what your focus is, figuring out how to help them on a local level is only a matter of creativity. You could help whales for example, by volunteering to improve river health. Most rivers drain into the ocean at some point, so a plastic water bottle thrown in a river could potentially end up in a whale’s stomach one day.
Educating kids about whales, and fundraising for foundations that help whales, are also all ways you can help on a local level.
You can’t do it all, so do what you can
If you’re passionate about one specific thing, it’s okay to keep focused on that goal. There’s no reason you can’t educate people about snow leopards or raise money for their conservation, even if you can’t directly help one yourself.
If your cause is big though, such as helping all animals or stopping runaway global warming, narrowing your focus to a small level can really help.
We can’t stop many large scale environmental issues on our own, but micro communities can have a big impact. One neighborhood creating bee habitat could mean several acres of new habitat for endangered species. One neighborhood of people chatting with their family about their bee gardens can cause your small initiative to spread.
Every time we make a change, no matter how small, it helps–and makes a ripple. Be that change.