Does every little help?

If everyone does a little, we’ll achieve only a little. We must do a lot. 

David MacKay in Sustainable Energy — Without the Hot Air

recycling at airportWhile walking through Gatwick airport the other day – to stay at a hotel close to my trial in Brighton, not to fly, I must add – I noticed that airports now have recycling bins.  I found this both amusing and depressing and it set me thinking.  Do the headquarters of coal mining companies have low energy light bulbs?  Do the manufacturers of cluster bombs pride themselves in their health and safety? I guess the question is: does every little help?

From a moral or religious standpoint, doing the right thing is the right thing to do.  So recycling a newspaper while boarding a plane is still a good thing.  Or using washable nappies instead of Pampers on our third child.  Doing small things that lessen our carbon footprint are virtuous activities, but they must not blinker us to reality.  Getting on a plane or having a third child are both wildly unsustainable activities.  We cannot make up for them by doing a bit of recycling, something I am sure the UK Airports Authority would like us to believe.

All the little things we do, like turning off taps and standbys and using our own shopping bags make virtually no difference to the world.  So why do we do them?  For me, it’s partly a religious decision, to choose ways of living that do less harm to God’s creation, however small the effect is, and also in some way to stand in solidarity with the earth and the people who will be affected by climate change.  In doing even minor things, we are demonstrating to the world, and to ourselves, that we care.

But we also want to make a difference, don’t we?  And what we mustn’t do is to allow feeling good about the small things we do to deflect us from doing things that matter.  And for me there is a religious motivation here too, to work to ‘serve and preserve’ what I believe to be God’s world.  So let’s encourage ourselves in our green journey!  If we are the sort of people who recycle and refuse shopping bags then we can also be the sort of people who consider our children’s future world when we choose our holiday destination, our energy supplier and the amount of meat and dairy in our diet.

And the biggest thing we can do is to work to transform our society from one that is demands destructive high carbon living to one that values the earth and our children.  Hope for the Future (, the campaign to bring climate change policy onto the agenda for the 2015 General Election, is a good place to start.



Author: | Date: 6 May, 2014 | Category: Church Magazine Transport | Comments: 2

Comments on "Does every little help?"

Ruth Jarman:

May 7, 2014

Yum! From a worm's point of view.

Lynda Ellis:

May 6, 2014

I'm always in AWE of my compost heap! Vegetable peelings, grass cuttings, leaves, weeds, vacuum cleaner dust, cardboard. And in under a year, sweet smelling compost to spread on my garden to grow organic vegetables! Miracle!!!

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