Trying to be green? However much we reduce our own direct personal impact, we're part of a society that continues to consume on our behalf. And that consumption is often wasteful.
We have organised ourselves into a system where other people take decisions for us. We generally give those people authority by electing them. They are then able to legitimately tax us and spend our money on consumables.
If we do our best to reduce our own personal impact, but ignore the impact of those who act on our behalf, we are missing half the potential for improvement.
As individuals we don't get to decide how efficiently houses are built in this country, or whether hospitals get their energy from ground source heat pumps, or whether our electricity comes from coal or wind.
But how do we reduce our collective impact in these areas of life?
The key, of course, is that the people repsonsible for making these consumption decisions are elected. By us. So each of us has the ability to influence those decisions.
There are a number of ways of doing this. Our elected representatives are used to receiving letters and emails from their electors. But it remains true that it doesn't take many letters before any individual starts to take notice.
They will assume, quite rightly, that for every letter they receive there are a whole load more electors who didn't write but still think that way.
These representatives will be guided by what we say we want. And the more of us who speak, the clearer they will hear us.
A complementary way to reduce our collective impact is to vote in the first place for people who already believe in the idea of reducing society's impact.
Next time you are being asked for your vote, speak to your candidates and ask them about their beliefs and their party's policies. Make it clear to them what you are looking for in your elected representatives.
It's one of the easiest, and potentially one of the most effective, ways of helping to reduce our society's overall impact.
This post also appears at the website for the film No Impact Man.