The difference we make


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As we get older, we feel the urgency to contribute to make the world a better place. Time is of the essence and we must act, but what can we do? Last time I checked, the world was pretty big and the issues that needed to be addressed were no smaller.
That realization can be overwhelming. It may leave us frozen, not knowing where to begin or what to do. But if we look around, close to us, within our world, there is a lot we can do. No action is too little. Everything we do will have an impact on the world and, as Jane Goodall says, “what you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make” every day.
We are only able to control our own actions and determine our own behaviors, but we can influence and inspire others to take their own steps to eliminate bad habits or convert them into positive ones. 
A good example is the annual Recycling Awards created by the League of Women Voters of the Space Coast (lwv-spacecoast.org) for schools from Kindergarten to 12th grade and run in partnership with Brevard Public Schools. Using a tour to the landfill as the trigger to their thinking brain, the award aims to get students to use their sharp observation skills and wear their thinking cap to reflect about what they and their school can do to reduce waste and increase recycling rate in the county. 
Ambitious, right? Yes! But to change the world one must be ambitious and also give others the chance to explore ideas, practice problem solving, and push themselves. As the award coordinator, I just wanted to see more schools participating. My hope is that groups come up with ideas for improvement that can be implemented in their school or in our county, but just the fact that we are driving them to think about the issue is already a positive deed.
And those deeds may come in different shapes. 
This past month, I had a special gift exchange with a group of friends. At first we were going to gift each other only consumables (cookies, restaurant gift cards, movie tickets, etc.) but we ended up deciding to create our own gifts from gently-used/recyclable materials. That was not only great fun for our group, but each group member said that they will be passing the idea on so others can do the same. That’s a little step, but a little step in the right direction.
There are so many issues that need attention and need help in getting addressed, but I believe that if we change one thing in our own world to make a positive impact, that will change the environment around us and it may catch on with others. From refusing to use disposable plastic straws to installing solar panels on our roofs to replacing plants in our yard with Florida natives to investing in an electric car, all actions count and these are some that will generate positive impact and will resonate.
Despite what might come in 2017, we should embrace the challenges and seek the opportunity in every difficulty.
Bill Gates, for one, at the prospect of changes toward alternative energy investment and addressing climate change, took on the challenge and is starting “a fund to invest in transformative energy research and development to reduce the emissions that cause climate change. […] The fund will consider investing in electricity generation and storage, transportation, agriculture and energy-system efficiency.” (NY Times)
So think of the issues that need attention, match them with your passions, and consider what kind of difference you want to make.
“Believe you can, and you’re halfway there” — Theodore Roosevelt. VV
Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@3RsAndBeyond.org.