How You Can Save the Planet

By Rex Weyler, Intent

After four decades in the environmental movement, I rejoice at signs of progress, but I also believe the pace of change remains too slow. We – especially those privileged with daily meals and computers – need to do more. I often struggle to reconcile realism with optimism. Realistically, two-thirds of natural services to humankind are in decline: depleted fisheries, extinct species, toxic pollution, soil erosion, dying rivers, lopped-off mountain tops, melting glaciers, and an atmosphere heating up like a flambé.

Facing these realities, my optimism comes from two sources: One, historic achievements for civil rights, women’s rights, and disease treatment show that we can change. Secondly, most people show compassion and know how to enjoy rich lives with modest consumption. I know we can achieve a richer quality of life with simpler means. To do this, we must preserve the two elements of our world that sustain us: the environment and our communities. We must adopt personal and social strategies that “relocalize” society. We don’t need super-heroes, but ordinary heroes and common decency.

Humanity requires large-scale change, but eventually, change comes down to the daily choices and actions that make large-scale change possible. We must act as if the age of ecological enlightenment has arrived.

Here are some key ways we can be part of the solution:

• Stop hydrocarbon use. Walk, ride a bike or take public transport. Urge politicians to create low-impact public transportation.

Grow and eat local food. Dining on exotic food, wrapped in plastic and shipped around the world with fossil fuels, is not sustainable. Preserve local agricultural land and start a backyard or community garden. To impress guests: serve something you grew.

• Slow consumption. We must virtually stop consuming certain products and slow down all consumption. Shop second hand. Recycle everything. Make global responsibility your fashion statement.

• Build community. We cannot solve the global ecological challenge as individuals, but we can as neighborhoods and communities. Grow compassion.

• Have courage. Challenging conventional thinking may attract ridicule. Do not be intimidated by the consequences of having a conscience. When one person stands up, others are inspired to stand up. This is the multiplying power of Gandhi or Aung San Su Kyi.

• Research. To transform society toward ecological responsibility, one must possess a genuine curiosity about how society works and how nature works.

• Use your skills. The best way to change the world is through the things you already know how to do and love to do. Use your skills, knowledge, and passions.

• Practice self-reflection. Ecology asks us to be humble, not proud. We must discover how to learn from nature.

Ordinary heroes, who practice modesty and courage, lead social change. Committed, organized citizens have always led important social transformation. Personal action defeats feelings of hopelessness. The choices we make transform the world.

Get More 30 Days to a Greener You Ideas

Rex Weyler is a co-founder of Greenpeace International and the author of Greenpeace: The Inside Story. His new book, The Jesus Sayings, examines the evidence for an authentic message from the first century Jewish sage. Contact: provides content and community for who you aspire to be–personally, socially and globally.


Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin4 years ago

great info!

Shane R.
Shane R.5 years ago

Nothing you do will make the slightest difference to the word's climate.

Dietrich S.
Dietrich S8 years ago

Beutifully written. But - once again - not sufficient, not brought to the point. Because the point - the center of the misery of our planet - is according to serious ecosystem research: Our demands are too high and the numbers of our own species are too high. It must come to common awareness, that (even if we all lived on subsistence level) without according education and family planning this planet CANNOT be saved. Unfortunately Greenpeace, too, remains silent about these facts - although they could know better.

Jeannette Gravett

Beautifully written - intelligent, sensitve, sensible and to the point - thanks - I'm passing it on!

Mary B.
Mary B8 years ago

Yes, one by one we do make a difference. The Big Guys would have us think only their Big Expensive Solutions are worth doing, and yet they have gotten wealthy by collecting small amounts from all the of the rest of us. Let's use that logic to see just how much impact we do have instead of subsidizing any more big oil,coal, or nuke plants.

Stephanie S.
Stephanie S.8 years ago

I have sent this article to many friends, and added it to my facebook page......spread the knowledge you have learned......we are all in this together !!!!!!

Sheila Scheibl
Sheila Scheibl8 years ago

I too think that the pacefor helping the environment is WAY too slow. I watch Focus Earth on Planet Green, and there was a bit on how our percentages and years that were posted to have greenhouse gasses down 30% by 2015 is too early and the percentage is too high... can yo believe it?

A petition here on care2 made me think. It was about stopping mountain top mining for coal. What are these people thinking when they could put that money towards green energy instead of chopping up our Mother Earth!

I got laughed at when I wished people a Happy Earth Day, but it made me more persistent... maybe I should say it every day. Earth Day SHOULD BE EVERY DAY ANYWAY, NOT JUST APRIL 22!!! The more you talk about it and show your passion, it rubs off on people...


Laura K.
Laura K8 years ago

This article really makes it feel as if one person actions make a difference.I love the power of words to inspire without intimidating or ordering.