My mother used to tell me that there was no point trying to save the world if you can’t help those in your own back yard. I know what she meant. While I had aspirations of world diplomacy, The Peace Corp. and travelling in outer space, she was trying to teach me that people in my community needed help as well. And though these local needs may have appeared less “significant” to my teenage self, it did not mean that they were any less important.
Today we recognize that an easy way to help those in our own backyard is to support local businesses. It keeps scarce economic development dollars in our communities and this has a trickle down effect for all to enjoy. But what about our new responsibilities as collective citizens of this world? Preserving forests, minimizing our use of plastic and conservation of water? Sometimes the effects of these needs are not evident to us on a daily basis. We may not share a habitat with orangutans and tigers, nor are we able to see a mountain of plastic waste or a destroyed marine park outside of our windows. Does that disconnect mean that these causes are any less important?
It is a beautiful thing to live in a time and place where so much information is at hand. Because the global impact of goods and services is becoming more important to us, companies are being forced to have transparency and accountability for their practices – this is great for everyone and comes at not a moment too soon! Yet having all of this information can also be overwhelming, and it is challenging to keep tabs on every product we purchase. Having the realization that the world has become smaller means that our backyard has become bigger, and although it is tedious and time-consuming, many of us continue to do the research and choose the products and services that best suit our belief system. We do this because we DO care what happens in our backyard AND to our planet.
When faced with the dilemma of purchasing something because it is made more locally or is made with the most responsibility, surely we must then remind ourselves of the big picture and ask ourselves what will do the MOST amount of good for the MOST amount of people…animals…trees…rivers… Then we can feel confident knowing that every conscious act towards a better future will have a positive impact on our community AND our world.
written by Meg Williams