Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation: Eco-Steps Style

Just as in "six degrees of separation" we are generally only six people away from just about everyone on the planet (including Kevin Bacon).  That means that the little things (or eco-steps, even) we say and do have the potential to influence, well, everyone.  Taking it one step further, think about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and all of the other social media out there.  We are all "friends" of friends, of friends of someone.  Arguably, we are more interconnected now than in any other time in history and that this "togetherness" brings us all more power than we realize.  I must say that I've gone back and forth on this whole social media concept.  I've loved it, I've hated it, I have activated, deactivated, then reactivated accounts just to stay "in touch" or at least semi-tethered to modern society.   Say or feel what you want about it, social media is here and becoming more entrenched in our way of life, which brings about the power and responsibility aspect.  Since we are all interconnected (one way or another) we can use these social media tools to help share ideas and raise awareness about important issues.  That's where Eco-Steps come in.  Let's look at some examples.
Let's say that to reduce my consumption of paper products, I switch from using paper napkins to cloth napkins instead (with super-cool napkin rings, of course).  At family gatherings or dinners, the cloth napkins get noticed and I take the opportunity to explain the environmental impact of paper napkins and why I switched.  Maybe that idea will catch on with a family member, who will then reduce his / her consumption of paper napkins.  If that person emails a friend, who posts on her Facebook status...who has 587 Facebook friends...many fewer paper napkins will be used, trees will be saved...you get the idea. 

Another example:   I have read that line-drying can save money on electricity and that it's easier on your clothes so they last longer (another savings), so I decide to line-dry my clothes.  I have a good experience with it, tell my friends-- who also try it.  They like it, tell their friends (my friends of friends)...  A little tidbit of info: Over its expected lifetime of 18 years, the average clothes dryer will cost you approximately $1,530 to operate.  Net result:  Energy savings, money savings, time savings.

Last one, I promise:  One day I'm eating some "all natural" onion ring snacks and I end up with a terrible headache.  I look at the ingredients, do a little investigative research and voila!  I discover that these things are full of MSG.  So I do a little more research, blog about it, tweet it, and post it on my Facebook page to share with others with the hope that it will help people be better informed about the ingredients in the food they buy.

So perhaps instead of six degrees of separation, we are all within six eco-steps of togetherness.  Cheesy?  Maybe.  The point being that we each have the power to impact everyone within our "circle of influence" (meaning everyone in our social networks).  Wouldn't it be nice if we all used that power for the greater good?

Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas of how to best use social media to spread the word on taking little eco-steps that can add up to make a huge and positive impact for our environment, our health and our happiness.

More interesting reading: Small World Experiment


  1. I have recently been inspired by someone very close to me to make the switch to cloth napkins. Positive changes are contagious!

  2. Hey I like the blog.
    The compound effect of these behaviors in today's socially interconnected world can't be overstated.
    btw. I would also add the benefit of body movement (keeping the rust off the axles) for the clothes drying method is a plus.

  3. So true! Social media lets us spread the word faster and to a greater number of people, but nothing beats bringing about change by modelling the behaviour and having family and friends want to do the same because they see how I benefit. It's just a much slower method of making change.