Thursday, March 25, 2010

Which is More Important: Personal or Political Action?

Recently, I was reading an interview on Grist with Annie Leonard of Story of Stuff fame, and there were two things she said that I found very interesting:
Q. What would you encourage people to do on an individual level?

A. People ask me that a lot, and I like to see where they are so I ask them, "What can you think of to do?" They say, "I can recycle. I can ride my bike more. I can buy organic. I can buy this instead of this." Really individual actions as opposed to, "I can work with my neighbors to shut down this toxic factory." We have a consumer part of ourselves and a citizen part of ourselves. And throughout this country's history, the citizen parts of ourselves have accomplished enormously wonderful things to make this country a better place. But in recent decades, I feel like the consumer part of ourselves is spoken to and validated and nurtured so much that we've over-identified with it and the citizen part of ourself has atrophied. We just need to start reinvigorating that citizen muscle. So the number one thing to do is to hook up with others who share your values and start making some real change.

Q. Has there been any stuff that's been difficult for you to give up or part with or not consume?

A. Not really, partly because I just don't really focus on the individual piece so much. I really don't fall into that camp where it's your fault because you left the water running when you brushed your teeth. So I just don't spend a lot of time around the guilt and the individual action stuff.
I often see this divide in the environmental world between advocates of personal versus political change, our consumer side versus our citizen side, and individual versus large-scale actions. Many encourage people to focus on small changes like changing their lightbulbs, while others say that those small changes don't matter and we should be focusing on broadscale changes of the entire system.

So for this month's APLS Carnival, I'm asking the questions:
  • Are personal changes too small to matter?
  • Should people who have full time jobs and kids and church responsibilities, etc. be expected to find time to organize their neighbors to shut down toxic factories?
  • Are people who do only the personal changes being lazy?
  • Are people who expect political changes to solve all of our problem pushing the blame on others instead of taking responsibility?
  • Is consumer action less important than citizen action, and vice versa?
  • Where's the balance?
These are just some questions to get your ideas rolling. Email your posts to consciousshopperblog [at] gmail [dot] com by April 15. The carnival will be hosted at the Green Phone Booth on April 20th.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March Carnival: Prioritizing

This month's carnival on how you set your green priorities is up at the Good Life. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


The March APLS post is hosted by wilkeorama...

It's a big green world out there and despite wanting to do it all, there are limits to our abilities. (Even Superheroes from the Green Phone Booth are talking about their shortcomings!)

Sometimes we tell ourselves that we can let one thing go because we are going above and beyond in another area. For example, one might go all out and grow a great garden but not compost.

Other times we struggle to do a number of things, but don't seem to be able to divide our attention and energy successfully.

This month's topic is about the decisions we make, big or small, that affect our actions as self-proclaimed APLS. How do you decide what gets to be top priority in your green life? What types of activities are a MUST for you, and what gets left on the chopping block? Please email your submissions to wilkeorama at gmail by March 15.

I look forward to reading about everyone's priorities! Thank you!