It’s not easy to feel like you can make a difference in this world. It’s even harder when it feels like it’s everyone but you doing the damage.
I’m not saying that I’m a vegan eco-warrior who’s removed all single-use plastic from her life. Far from it. What I mean is that when you’re one voice out of 7.7 billion people, yours isn’t the one that’s heard.
Watching David Attenborough’s Our Planet is just the fuel I need for thinking about how to make a difference, and how large or small a change we can actually make. Watching the wonders of nature unfold, whilst at the same time watching how easy it can crumble, it can be all too easy to pin blame. Yet, as I said before, it’s a collective voice. It’s collective damage.
It was not one individual that caused the Yangtze River dolphin to go extinct, it wasn’t one river plunging single-use plastics into the Pacific Ocean that caused the great gyres of waste and over 1.8 trillion reasons to never drink from a straw again. But it is the work of one species; and we’re lucky enough that we’re conscious enough (most of us, at least) to do something about it.
But, realistically, what can one person do? The power is of course in the hands of those with their hands on policies and politics. The politicians, the big businesses, hell, even the celebrities wield more power over these matters than we do. How? Aren’t these often the people who are the biggest contributors, with their excess of Starbucks and their private jets? (I’m not picking on the rich, I know it’s often the developing countries that have the biggest impacts on carbon emissions, pollution, plastic waste etc, but there’s an important reason I’m picking on celebrities here.)
If the Kim Kardashians of this world can sell anything from mint tea to couture lollipops and socks to use (for the price of only $250,000 dollars a Post), then surely, we should be leveraging these people and their followers to make some good in the world? Instead of duck-lipping your way to the top of the Instagram ladder, why not use your following to educate others about the damages of single-use plastic, our overfishing or the unbelievable cruelty of palm oil (that stuff’s in everything).
Just as cheetahs rely on open grasslands for a successful hunt, and just as the walrus needs enough floating sea ice to haul up, rest and raise its babies, these celebrities, businesses and influencers need us. If we buy their endorsed shampoos: we’re buying the plastic, too. If we’re buying the soft drinks, we’re buying the water that could have been used by farmers in Kerala to irrigate their lands and feed their children.
If we stop indulging in all these products that we know are harmful, then the power of those that sell them will decrease. I’m not saying it will make a massive difference, but if Attenborough can influence a generation of young people and encourage them to cut their plastic use by half and to hand-pick litter from the oceans, all without being asked, forced or paid to do so, then surely we could influence a few celebrities to change their ways too, simply by cutting off funding to their vanity. Stop encouraging the influencers and start influencing them. photo by Grey Feather Photography