I think we could change this through trend and taboo. I befriended a number of socially and environmentally conscious people at college, even lived with some, and in our little society it was easier to live a greener lifestyle.
For example, drying racks were trendy. So were clotheslines. Gas-guzzling cars? Taboo. Creative reusing? Trendy. Clothing swaps? Trendy. Littering? Totally taboo.
We were always open to new ideas. I’m sure that if No Impact Man had been in our group, he would have told us how he and his wife brush their teeth to the light of a beeswax candle. Could have become quite trendy.
What made these things trendy for us? Well, we all cared about the environment, social justice, etc. And we were in a supportive community made up of people with the same values. What we need, then, is for such things to get beyond the level of supportive sub-cultures and become more mainstream.
One immediate problem would be that large companies aren’t that happy about people doing clothing swaps instead of going shopping. Nor are gas companies that psyched about carpooling/public transit. So they’ll use their media power to keep this image going.
How will we get our message out there? No Impact Man has some ad ideas which certainly convey the negative consequences of not changing our lifestyle. They provide food for thought. I think they give us a serious reason to change.
Yet I think the best step we can take is to create positive sub-communities. That is, find fun ways to explore alternative lifestyles. Engage our friends in this fun. Have them engage their friends. Create online communities too, or join the ones already out there. Attempt dramatic changes and see how they work out. But not in a spirit of fear, but in that spirit of creativity exemplified by No Impact Man, by my friends at college, by people who want to make a change because it will make the world a better place.
We can start small with things like drying racks, CFLs, and work our ways up to bigger and more dramatic changes. In the end, we will end up with positively altered lifestyle and a better world to boot. Plus, we can strengthen relationships with friends and family, by engaging in this quest with them!