Allison Andrews: Be the change
November 21, 2012
For a community that prides itself on sustainability, there is a significant number of local businesses that blatantly are not on board. In my research, I've found a number of restaurants that do not even recycle, which to me seems ridiculous in this day and age — and especially in a place where recycling seems to be so accessible.
However, in speaking with small-business owners, I have discovered that oftentimes, it is not that these individuals simply do not care about sustainability or see recycling as important but rather that there is a lack of incentive for small businesses to participate in the community's recycling program. As residents of this community, patrons of its local economy and enormously influential creatures, we have the power to create incentive, and this power lies directly in the decisions that we make every day about where we choose to spend our money. It is important not only that we hold local businesses accountable for their choices but also that we hold one another and ourselves accountable for our role in the bigger picture and in shaping the future.
Sustainability is a mindset, and for those of us who hold this paradigm, our main goal must be to spread it through thoughtful action and conversation. Sustainability is all-encompassing. It is holistic and unifying. We are part of a movement, a revolution that is applicable to all aspects of life — from what we eat to where we shop to what we "throw away."
We must take a collective approach to solving the problems of our time, and we can start locally by holding one another responsible for the impacts of our choices and setting a precedent of mindful action. Most of us blindly consume, sometimes using the justification that individual actions do not and cannot make a difference in the bigger picture. Yet it is each incremental action and phenomena that creates the bigger picture.
Choose to be a conscious consumer. Ask the uncomfortable questions, like "Do you recycle? Do you actively inventory and try to reduce your waste? Do you buy locally?" And choose to support the places that do business in ways that are in alignment with your values and beliefs, ways that are reflective of the world that you want to see.
The truth is, our thoughts and actions do matter; they affect the way we feel about ourselves and the way we influence others. It is crucial that we actively think about and judge what we do and who we are, and take responsibility for the effects of our actions, not just on ourselves or those with whom we immediately are connected, but on the planet and future generations. We have been blessed with consciousness and a mind that allows us to look into the future and to learn from the past, to analyze and to innovate. As the most influential species on this planet, it is our duty to use those minds.