Do Individual Actions Matter?

When we read an onslaught of gloom and doom news articles about how just 100 private companies are responsible for 71% of all greenhouse emissions over the past 30 years, it can be an easy reaction to feel deflated, defeated and like our individual actions are a drop in the ocean in solving the climate crisis. If this same rate of fossil fuel extraction and consumption continues over the next 30 years, we could be facing a 4C increase, spelling devastation for our ecosystems.

So why should we care about our individual actions if those companies at the top are prioritising short term profits over the longevity of our planet and future generations? It can feel futile ensuring we recycle our coffee cups, when just BP alone produces 53 million times more carbon emissions than the average person per year.

Over recent years, the climate crisis has become more and more political. Pressure from new generations for governments and corporations to enact radical changes and investments in green technology, is pushing the conversation to the forefront.

Modern economies rely on a supply and demand model. Even while individual actions seem futile in solving this crisis, voting with your wallet is real, and does promote change from the ground up. As demand for sustainable, future-proof products grows, companies will be left with no choice but to shift with public demand.
We are starting to gradually see this. While often shrouded in ‘green-washed’ claims, large companies are becoming more aware and making more pledges to reduce emissions and plastic production.

We all know this is not enough, though. Large individual actions aren’t possible for everyone - for example, not all councils have easy recycling available, and eating less meat, or more local food isn’t an option in all socio-economic areas. With that in mind, it is important that people who are further along in their sustainability journey do not shame those that are not doing as much. Someone who may be unable to eat a sustainable diet may be making up for it with their use of public transport. Each individual action, no matter how small, is a vote towards a greener future. After all, how can we expect governments to care, if we do not show them that WE care?