Now that I have been blogging for over a year I feel like I have successfully tested the waters and it is time to commit to turning this blog into something bigger that can reach more people and truly be an outlet for affecting social change. That was my original intent after all, to affect social change through sharing my journey and experiences with natural, simplified living.
As I pondered this thought last week, I began to wonder if I had really been doing a very good job of incorporating the element of social change into my writing. I have been developing recipes free of allergens, but isn’t that only changing my digestion? I have talked about container gardening, but isn’t that only affecting my food budget? Even those natural cosmetics are really only changing the ingredients I put on my skin right? Wrong.
I think some times in advocating for simplified living, local eating, and creating community we forget about the awesome global consequences our lifestyle changes can have.
Here are a few ways natural lifestyle choices can affect social change:
1. Supporting the local economy: A study done in Georgia found that “if each of the approximately 3.7 million households in the state devoted $10 per week to locally grown products…, it would add more than $1.9 billon back into the state’s economy.” 1
2. Reduce healthcare costs: Researchers have found that if the rates of diet related, preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure were reduced by even 5% the country could save more that $5 billion in healthcare costs. Reducing rates of heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke prevalence by 5% would raise those savings to more that $19 billion, and with the addition of a 2.5% reduction in some forms of cancer, COPD and arthritis the savings would go up to $21 billion. 2
3. Vote with you dollar: Its simple supply and demand, if customers demand that their food contain only healthy oils instead of processed vegetable oils, the supply of healthier options would rise. If we show that there is a demand for local food, maybe more stores would start supporting local farmers, and if we stopped buying processed foods like chips and soda just because they are cheap the prices of healthier foods may even go down.
4. Lower carbon footprint: Did you know that the average American throws out about 1,200 pounds of waste every year that could be composted. For every pound of waste that you compost and prevent from going into a landfill, you save 2.5 pounds of CO2 emissions! That 3,000-pound emission reduction per year is equal to the emissions produced by a round-trip flight from New York to Denver. 3
My goal is to start pointing out the social change implications inherent in the things I write about on a more regular basis. However, in the mean time I hope that this post serves as a reminder of how important the choices we make are. Sure, our choices affect us and our families, but they also affect everyone in our communities and many choices even have global effects. I recently saw a quote that I think sums up this point that stated,
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~ William James