“I can’t save the world alone!” – The myth threatening our environmental progress.

Sceptics are arguably a bigger threat to our environment than climate change itself.

Over the years, there have been multiple articles suggesting we all stop caring – from ‘the earth is homeostatic’ to ‘it simply won’t get too bad within our lifetimes’, and the reasons have always been entirely disprovable. One recent article has particularly angered us here at RubyMoon – an Alden Wicker article entitled ‘conscious consumerism is a lie’.

The article highlights the three main points targeted by sceptics in their arguments against acting in favour of the environment – and the three ways of thinking that we need to change.


1.) The misrepresentation of research findings.

A lot of statistics that you see being used to defend non-environmentally friendly behaviour have been taken completely out of context, or just based on poorly executed research. For example, the Wicker article’s main argument is grounded on research by Csutora in 2012. The author split participants up into those acting ‘green’ and those acting ‘brown’, based on a largely irrelevant scale – one which looked at recent changes to behaviour. This put those who hadn’t recently altered their environmental behaviour in the wrong category, meaning the conclusions drawn aren’t completely valid. If reading an article that doesn’t sound quite right, make sure to look into their supporting research to assess whether something has been misinterpreted.

2.) Seeing throwaway fashion as too strong a force to argue with.

Wicker’s article adopts the attitude that it simply doesn’t matter whether we recycle our clothing or not – sooner or later, some future owner of the garment won’t end up recycling it, and it will end up in the same place as it would if we just threw it away now. Frankly, if we all held this opinion, of course all clothes would get thrown away! We simply need to encourage everybody to donate their clothes to new homes rather than throwing them away, and hopefully the quantity of waste being produced will fall. It is also mentioned that you need to be “privileged” to afford ethically made clothes – again, not true! The vast majority of sustainably made fashion is of extremely high quality in comparison to high street clothing, which is designed to wear out in order to encourage future purchases. Ethical fashion items last longer, so you don’t need to buy as many – which works out at the same, if not a lower price.

3.) Thinking that you are not powerful enough.

The Wicker article suggests that the only way that us mere citizens can make an impact is to give all our money to powerful organisations with a voice. Contrarily, there have been many instances of communities coming together to make a difference – such as in the Noord district in Amsterdam where households have come together to collect their plastic recycling and take it to a local drop-off point. This is rewarded with ‘green coins’, which are accepted in exchange for discounts at 30 local businesses for things such as half-price beers, free chocolate or discounted yoga classes. Talking to your neighbours about the environment could result in something really effective coming into place.
More locally, the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership aims to help residents waste less food, Brighton and Hove Wood Recycling Project takes waste wood from local builders and recreates it into a reusable product, and Hanover Action promotes sustainable living and attitude change through various community events like zero carbon energy BBQs and film showings of environmental documentaries. All of these programmes are community-run and have resulted in massive waste reduction.
Even individually, we can make a massive difference to the environment. Things such as eating less red meat, properly considering our clothing purchases and walking or cycling rather than driving or using public transport are all proven to really help the environment in terms of reducing emissions.

Here’s a list of 50 more ways to help the environment that can be implemented at home.


To quote Anita Roddick, “If you think you’re too small to make an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room”.

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