Celebrate Earth Day

How One Person Can Make a Difference in the Environment

Kids Picking Up Trash in Field
Fuse/Getty Images

Earth Day is a time when millions of people worldwide celebrate and renew their personal commitment to environmental stewardship.

And it has never been more important, or more urgent, for you and people everywhere to take personal action, to adopt a greener lifestyle, and to share your concerns about the environment.

How One Person Can Make a Difference

Today, the environmental problems facing the world are enormous. Earth’s finite resources are being stretched to the limit by rapid population growth, air, water and soil pollution, and much more.

Global warming, spurred by our use of fossil fuels for energy and transportation as well as mass-scale agriculture and other human activities, threatens to push our planet beyond its ability to support human life unless we can meet the growing need for food, energy and economic opportunity within a sustainable environment.

In the face of such huge global problems, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless, and to find ourselves asking, “What difference can one person make?” The answer is that one person can make all the difference in the world:

  • Rachel Carson was just one person who wrote Silent Spring, a book credited with launching the environmental movement in the United States.
  • John Muir was one person who saved the Yosemite Valley, founded the Sierra Club, and inspired generations of conservationists who continue to do life-giving work.
  • Wangari Maathai is one person who started planting trees and empowering women in her native Kenya, and eventually was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.
  • Al Gore is just one person who traveled for years to any conference room or auditorium where people would gather to hear his call to action and see his slide show, which became the Academy Award-winning film and best-selling book, An Inconvenient Truth

The Power of Personal Commitment

Each of us has the power through our daily decisions and lifestyle choices to make our homes and communities more environmentally friendly, but our power doesn’t end there.

There is no question that solving many of the problems currently threatening our global environment will require the resources and enlightened action of government and industry. Yet, because government and industry exist to serve the needs of their citizens and customers, how you live your life, the demands you and your neighbors make for products and services that help to preserve rather than erode the environment, will influence those actions and, ultimately, help to determine the future of planet Earth and the fate of mankind.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

So make some changes in the way you live your life. Use less energy and fewer resources, create less waste, and join with others who share your beliefs to urge government representatives and business executives to follow your lead toward a more sustainable world. Here are a few ways you can get started:

Happy Earth Day.