In the past few years we have been witnessing the resurgence of a worldwide civil society concerned with the environmental impacts of our actions. And an important facet of this emerging constituency is the belief that by collectively working together it is possible to change things.
This highly informed and participative community has opted for a hands-on approach in dealing with climate change and social injustice -- from hands-on, individual acts like recycling, responsible shopping, cleaner transportation, reducing consumption, and collaborating on DIY projects towards common righteous purposes.
This revival shares the optimism and strength of collective movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s, while being powered by tools of the 1990's and 2000's that facilitate collaboration.
And what is especially interesting is that the actions and beliefs of this group seem to be spilling over into the rest of the culture. Is sustainability becoming a mainstream value?
Perhaps -- especially as doing one's daily tasks with less environmental harm becomes both convenient, and attractive to a wider spectrum of consumers. Here is where technological developments are playing a big role in creating solutions that offer diverse opportunities to help effect change. One no longer needs to be an "activist" to be active in improving the world.
Networked communications allow almost anyone to find a sustainability-oriented community to get involved in efforts near and far -- such as Tree Nation, an online community website dedicated to averting desertification by planting eight million trees in the Sahara -- a spot on the globe most people are likely to never visit.
Tree Nation says it's using new mapping technologies to allow participants to choose the spot in the Sahara where "they" will plant a tree in the desert. And it doesn't stop there: "Each tree will be given a unique GPS code to locate the tree, making it easy for participants to track the growth of their tree."
This sort of individual act is capable of changing things if it is multiplied by millions. One act that millions take every day is purchasing goods -- and as consumers increasingly base their purchasing decisions on principles like integrity, sustainability and social responsibility, companies are compelled to incorporate these values into the production process, from product development to marketing to retailing. Detailed life-cycle product information, including human resources involved, ingredients/components used, working conditions and disposable information, is slowly making it's way into this system. Even an agri-giant like Dole feels it needs to get into the act:
Dole Organic: You can travel to the origin of each organic product we produce. By entering the three digits Farm Code located in the sticker of your fruit you can visit the country, the farm, view photos and learn more about our products and our people.
The success of green products and services relies heavily on making these equivalent in quality, price and convenience as the dirtier alternatives.