making a not so small difference

Back when I was vegetarian (I’m currently on a teeny break whilst in Japan), one of the biggest criticisms I got was that by myself, I probably won’t make much of a difference to the animals or the environment, so what was the point? Why was I putting myself though all of those ‘inconveniences’ when I hardly made any changes to the very reasons why I was doing it?

But carried on being vegetarian anyway. And it wasn’t always easy, but I didn’t mind.

Why? Because I didn’t care that I didn’t make a big difference on my own. What mattered for me was that I wasn’t the one contributing to the things that I stood against. I may not have revolutionized chicken farming, or saved the world from global warming, but at least I wasn’t the cause of the death of a dozen chickens or however many gallons of pollution or waste that would have happened because of me.

The same goes for the reason why I choose to ride a bike instead of driving a car even though I can afford to. Or why I recycle even though it would be easier for me just to chuck everything in one bin.

Or why I’m a minimalist, not an over-consumer, even though it seems that the rest of the world is. People might ask how much of a difference do I think I’m making, living out my life this way. Do I really think just by doing this I can change the world?

Yes I do. In my own little way, I’m doing my part. Even if it doesn’t seem to be making a massive difference, that doesn’t matter to me. Just knowing that I am a part of it, is more than enough.

And let’s not forget to mention how much minimalism has changed my own world. It may not have made too much of a difference in the big wide world (yet), but in my own personal life, it’s taken me places I could have only dreamed of.

Real change doesn’t always mean a big flashy impact that will change the face of the world and humanity as we know it. Some of the strongest movements in history were done quietly, almost without anybody noticing.

First, I buy/drive/hoard a little less, then my friends notice I seem a little happier, so they give it a go. Then their friends do and then their friends and family do. Soon, entire pockets of people are leading a more minimalist lifestyle, in their own little way, without even realizing where it all started (I don’t even really know where it came from for me!). And before we know it, the tipping point comes and the world has changed for the better, even if just a little.

It’s good to know you don’t have to save the entire world to be a hero.

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  • http://soaringondreamerswings.wordpress.com Stephen Zawodzinski

    I agree- this is such a good way of putting it. People who ask why you do what you do, and what it matters if you aren’t making a flashy impact, don’t understand the truth behind the act.

    You do what you do because you believe it the core, not because you expect recognition and huge change, and besides, the best way to start a movement is to start small and let it grow naturally, because, though the movement may start small, it will grow with more true followers than it might have had if it exploded right from the get go.

    Thank you for the post- It was really good, and it was just what I needed to revitalize my drive for my blog. You really do inspire me, so thank you!

  • http://www.towardsthefuture.com Adam Welker

    Well said, Jessica!

    Don’t doubt yourself. You do what you feel is right and makes you happy. Others will take notice. Every little bit helps. If lots of people only did a little bit, it will add up to something greater.

    I believe that if more people were to adopt this lifestyle, it would make for positive changes on our planet.

  • Andre

    “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

    I’m convinced that the only thing you can change is yourself. Since you can’t change the others, you’re left to inspire them to do so. It’s somewhat like leading by example. And even if you’re the only person you’ve changed it’s anything but a small difference. In fact, I can’t imagine anything greater than changing one’s life to the better. By the way, I assume you’re inspiring a lot of people by your blog. At least you inspire me. Thank you.

  • http://coconutandberries.tumblr.com Emma

    I love this. I always liked this quotation when I doubt that what I’m doing is worthwhile:
    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

    But yes I also completely agree that the personal benefits of seemingly small lifestyle changes shouldn’t be overlooked.

  • http://www.smashyourtelevision.com Laura M.

    Great post! You really nailed it. So often, people tell me, “It doesn’t matter if you eat a little chicken here and there,” and I keep telling them that I don’t want to contribute to the inhumane slaughter of chicken, or something like that. I’d like to make conscious decisions and not contribute to the waste in the world, rather than be one of billions who DO…

  • http://onminimalism.com Val

    I totally agree! I am a vegetarian and when people ask why and when I tell them that ONE of my reasons is because I don’t like factory farming, they sometimes roll their eyes because they don’t think that I am making a difference. I may not be making a huge difference but I like to think that I am making a difference in the lives of those animals that I am not eating because that means however many animals won’t need to be killed for me.

    I agree on the minimalism aspect too. I may not be making a huge difference in the world, but it’s a huge difference in my own life.

  • http://www.momentumgathering.com Katie | Momentum Gathering

    So true, Jessica. Those tipping points have always come when one person makes a change and others follow. Lead by example and live your life your way. Just because everyone does something doesn’t make it right – everyone can be wrong, history proves that.

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  • http://www.worsted-knitt.net Lumi

    Actually, just by being a vegetarian you can save 1000 lives. That’s the amount of animals an average (German) person eats in their lives (including 4 cows and around 900 chickens). And like said, that’s just the direct impact. Sometimes things you think are not big reveal themselves as such.

  • anavnaj

    Everytime someone tells me I can’t make much of a differnce to the world by any of the things mentioned in your post (recycling, vegetarianism etc.), it reminds me of this wonderful comic strip: http://www.lowbird.com/data/images/2010/12/7136-be24.jpg

  • http://luinaemcanish.blogspot.com Luinae

    In the Talmud, we have a saying “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” So I figure that if maybe I save a few trees, a bit of the ocean, some chickens, and a little bit of natural gas, I’ve done something.

  • http://alwaysinsearchof.blogspot.com/ Pratiksha

    Hi… your blog is really inspirational. I am also trying to be minimalist….
    I am already vegan and I can also speak Japanese but I have never been to Japan…
    So its nice to know that you are vegan and living in Japan and studing Japanese Language… I dont find many people learning Japanese… or many give up very soon as it is very difficult language.
    All the best for future.. i will keep visiting your blog for some more inspiration….