Let me save you 10 years of agonizing over this question and share the conclusion I’ve come to: 100% yes.
Why? Because 1. What you do matters, and 2. When you spend your money, you participate in a capitalist voting system. When we buy something, we are voting for it. And if we don’t buy it, there will be no need to supply it.
I’ve been mulling this question over even more lately because I’ve heard a lot of people say that personal choices don’t matter when it comes to saving the planet, and what really matters is passing new legislation to enforce change at a corporate level. As someone who spent the past decade trying to shift their personal habits to live more eco-consciously, hearing this always stung a lot.
I realized it hurt because it minimizes the amount of power that I hold, that we all hold, to create global change. Create change through not only voicing our thoughts and feelings about what we buy, but through our consumerism itself. I knew that every dollar I had possessed the same value as another’s, and having only a limited amount of money to work with made each dollar seem even more important to vote wisely with.
Besides, if I haven’t already made the changes within myself that I’m asking the world to make, then I’m not yet aligned with the reality I want to bring forth, anyway.
The truth is, we are in desperate need of both types of change, and arguing about which happens first is a waste of precious energy. Changing legislation is a great thing! But real change must occur on micro, mezzo and macro levels. So whether the shift happens first with your behavior suading the company’s choices, or with the company’s choices molding your behavior, both must change.
Why not be on the leading edge of the environmental salvation that we need, rather than waiting around for Starbucks or the government to tell you not to use single use plastics? Leading by example is a dope and inspiring way to live, and you may actually impact more people than you’re aware of.