For the past week, I have had a one line phrase repeating in my head whenever I get into my routine duties like washing dishes, laundry, and cleaning the cat box:

“Can one person make a difference?”

It all started with a conversation I had with my dad. My dad, my husband, and I were out in front of our house having our spring yard sale. The Orkin man visited our neighbor’s house and he told us to give him a call if we ever need his services. We said thanks and I turned to my dad and husband and asked, “I wonder if they have a non-toxic chemical option”. My dad asked why and I talked about the pesticides going into the ground and then into the ground water. We are on city water, but it still just doesn’t seem right since the water eventually makes it to the streams and bay. And then my dad said something like “but you are just one person”. I can’t remember now if I said something or I just didn’t know what to say. I know that he meant nothing mean to me by it, it is just how so many people feel when we live in a system where is seems as if one person has no impact on anything.

As this phrase has been repeated over and over in my head, I have thought about it a whole lot. I first started to think about the positive ways someone can make a difference, but my mind soon turned to how one person can make a difference in a negative way – a horrible co-worker who can turn the whole office into a “toxic soup” with their negativity and pessimism, a driver who decides to drive drunk and hits someone who was innocently driving their vehicle and not harming anyone, an assassin who kills a leader of a country. These negative people show that one person can really make a difference. Negative impacts are always easier to find since they tend to be dramatic and immediate. But this is not the direction of a difference that I ever want to consider. I want to know how one person can make a difference positively.

I learned in high school to Think Globally, Act Locally. This means that what you want to happen on a global level, you need to do in your own life – locally – in your home, community, and and other places that you have impact. When more people catch on and start to participate, the group will get larger, and an impact will be seen. It really does start with one person – one person joining another person which forms a group.

I finally started thinking about how much in the last 3 years my husband and I have acted locally in a way we would like to see a global change and it has already changed our lives for the better…

  • Choosing healthier personal care and cleaning products so our bodies aren’t absorbing stuff that can make us sick now or years later… I don’t get sick anymore after I clean.
  • Choosing to replace a gas lawnmower with a rotary mower (soon to get an electric lawnmower) to reduce our carbon footprint and our pollution level… My husband no longer coughs all day and sometimes longer after he cuts the grass.
  • Choosing organic food and textiles when possible so that we are not ingesting or absorbing pesticides that can make us sick… I used to be stuffed up all of the time and I feel this is one of the changes that has made the most difference in my better breathing.
  • Choosing to shop at stores that treat their employees ethically and give back to their community… I feel better knowing that the employees I interact with are happier at the places I shop.

In addition to making our lives better, we are making others’ lives better too. By purchasing organic food and textiles, we are putting our money toward businesses where their employees aren’t exposed to pesticides that can make them sick.

Choices done by individuals everyday, for example through purchases, show companies what you want – that we want healthier choices – so each individual “one person” really is making a difference.

The environmentally friendly and organic movements didn’t happen overnight, they have been years in the making. Each aspect started with one person with a want for something different and the ideas grew.