Archive for the ‘Microactivism’ Category

Confessions of a Microactivist

June 14, 2009

That guy pulling out of the Exxon station? He doesn’t get in front of me. Would I like a Corona?  No thanks.

I have become a Microactivist. Every day I make dozens of small, silent protests. Most people don’t even notice. That’s fine, I know what I’m up to. At my job, I have the opportunity to work with large corporations and NGO’s whose sustainability initiatives are having–or promise to have–a significant impact on the environment and society. But on my own time, I go micro.

The Code of the Microactivist (as determined by me) is simple; Do what you can to help The Cause. The Cause is human survival. You hear a lot these days about saving the Earth. Well, the Earth is not at risk, we, its occupants, are. If we continue to dump toxins into the waters, and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the Earth will still be here–it’ll just be spinning around without us.

Microactivism is personal. You pick your spots. One of mine is Exxon/Mobil. And the people who buy their gas there. If you’re clueless enough to still be buying your $4 per gallon gas from a company that made over $40 billion in profit (yes, billion; yes, profit) last year–much of it on the backs of taxpayers–yet still has to be taken to the Supreme Court to be forced to clean up a mess it made 20 years ago, you’re not worthy of the common courtesy of being let into traffic. If you’re driving an SUV, I’ll give you a dirty look, too. If you’re in a Hummer–the proud badge of Neanderthal self-absorption–expect an obscene gesture.

I realize that when most people think about global warming, they don’t think about beer. But I do. Not only am I a Microactivist, I’m a beer geek. Beer is important to me. I think about it a lot (probably more than I should). The number one imported beer in the US these days is Corona. There’s simply no justification for this. If you’re really that desperate for a bland, boring, minimally flavored beer, you don’t have to look to Mexico, we have plenty right here! That’s just carbon that doesn’t need to be burned.

I’m not saying we should stop importing all beers (nor am I disrespecting all American beer). There are plenty of wonderful beers made overseas. English ales, German weissdopplebocks, funky Belgians–I would never want to stop these and other gems from crossing our borders. But given the amount of world-class breweries in this country (and there are many), and I no longer see the need to support middle-of-the-road beers that have to be shipped thousands of miles. (I’m looking at you, Heineken, Becks and Stella.)

Sometimes Microactivists have to speak up. Not only do I refuse plastic bags when I shop (usually for beer), I make it a point to tell the check out person about the 80 billion plastic bags Americans send into landfills every year (yes, billion; yes, every year). My standard line is, “save the plastic trees.” Last summer I nearly fell out of my plastic tree, when I heard a guy at the souvenir shop in Yankee Stadium say the exact same thing. Imagine, a fellow Microactivist and Yankee fan. (Wonder if he likes beer.)

As Microactivists, we must decry abominations when we see them. There’s a company (you won’t get its name from me!) that has recently introduced a bottled water for dogs.  As a Microactivist, I drink tap water whenever I can. He hasn’t said so in as many words, but I’m sure my dog supports that position. Were I to come home one day with a bottle of water for him, I believe he would look at me with sad eyes that say, “I can’t hold that bottle, would you mind dumping it into the toilet for me?”

We Microactivists know that every little step we take to help preserve the environment is important. We also know it’s not enough. Lately, many members of the scientific community have been saying that the effects of global warming have been underreported. That things are actually worse than we think. Naturally, they’re cautious about broadcasting this too loudly, lest the faint-hearted lose hope, and stop taking even the little steps.

Little steps are a great place to begin, but a lousy place to end. We must continue to reduce our personal imprint. Use less energy and water. Create less waste. Be more aware of the food choices we make. Cut off Hummers. But that’s not enough.

As Microactivists, we must move beyond our personal space, and influence corporations and governments. We can do this by being informed and selective about the companies we chose to do business with. We can do this by paying attention to pending legislation, and letting our elected officials know where we stand on the issue. And we must vote. This is perhaps the most critical Microactivist act of all, where Microactivism can yield macro results.

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