“The problem with climate change is that it is global… yet, it is not one vast, impersonal challenge, but rather billions of tiny, personal ones. It is our coffee pot in the morning, our daily drive to work, our weekly supermarket shop, and our annual holiday. It is a thousand things we do without thinking: everyday behavior that we assume, quite wrongly, is a normal part of life and therefore sustainable.” -Nick Spencer, Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living
I tend to get overwhelmed if I think about, well… anything too much. Issues like human trafficking, global climate change, LGBT rights, or even just the slow food movement tend to make my palms sweaty and give me a choking feeling in my chest. It’s not that I don’t want to be bothered by thinking about heavy things, it’s just that sometimes they feel so heavy that they might crush me. I have a hard time finding the balance between apathy and overwhelmed.
Because I could run around in circles for days, attending rallies, planting gardens, researching the origins of every single thing that I buy and it would never be enough. I can never do enough. No matter how much I do, it will always just be a drop in the bucket. Too easily that line of thinking makes me want to curl up in bed and just watch old seasons of Parks and Rec for days, and then I REALLY start to feel bad about myself and my inadequacies.
Apparently today was “National Preach-in on Climate Change Sunday” at church. You learn about these things when you go to a tiny, hippy Mennonite church in Boise, ID. I love my church dearly. And I love the thinking that it makes me do, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. At the beginning of the sermon our pastor asked us about what small things we have each done in our own lives that are good for the environment but that also bring us joy. He encouraged us to really consider this because there would be time to share our tiny joys at the end of the sermon.
Picking up trash on a hike. Solar panels on a roof. Willingness to lend out a pickup truck. Planting a tiny garden. Wearing handmade clothes. Hearing everyone else’s joys made my heart happy. And it reminded me that even though I am only one person, one drop in the bucket, I’m in a pretty good bucket, surrounded by a lot of other beautiful drops.
I decided to raise my hand a share an odd joy: cloth diapers. We used them for 2+ years with both kids and they gave me joy. I loved the colors and how they made my babies’ bums look so chubby and sweet. I loved saving money and knowing that I wasn’t contributing to the landfill. And honestly, I loved the smug satisfaction of knowing that I was doing something counter cultural. Dealing with poop? Doesn’t phase me.
It got me thinking about other tiny, personal decisions that I have made. And I realized that I will never do enough, but I can always try to do the next right thing.