Why not bother?

The Earth Day weekend has brought a torrent of articles in local and national newspapers as well as stories on TV and the Internet about the threats of global warming and a worldwide food crisis. As Michael Pollan writes in a thoughtful article in the New York Times Magazine, many people are asking themselves, “Why should I bother changing a light bulb or separating my garbage into categories when nothing I do can really stop this?” It certainly will take legislation and technology to solve all of the global issues raised by our use of fossil fuels and our high-energy lifestyles, but just making a choice to move in the right direction may help nudge legislators and corporations into action. People throughout the country laugh at San Franciscans for being so so imbued with ecological fervor that they even pass ordinances banning plastic bags in grocery stores, but as you look around the city, you’ll see our ecological halo is slipping. Although every supermarket now makes available inexpensive reusable shopping bags, nine out of ten shoppers still use a large paper bag for even the smallest purchase. Perhaps we should follow Pollan’s lead and do the little things we can manage. He suggests starting a garden, which is difficult for many city renters, but almost anyone can slip a reusable bag into their car or handbag, cut down on the amount of meat they eat, and skip some imported delicacies. It can’t hurt the planet and to nudge the world ahead even a millimeter is better than doing nothing.

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