The Ecological Citizen Vol 4 No 1 2020: 37–43
This article explores the ways in which, with respect to ecological harms and values, individual action is a needful complement to institutional politics. Despite the increasing visibility of ecological devastation and increasingly widespread concern and calls for action, the common focus on public and private institutions often overshadows individual agency and responsibility. In comparison to the scale of ecological harms and the power of institutions like governments and corporations, the ability of individuals to act meaningfully as responsible ecological citizens often appears relatively trivial. The article advances three claims challenging this sense of cynicism and individual powerlessness: first, that individual action is itself an important ecological practice; second, that such action is needed to counteract the passive, irresponsible, consumerist mindset that often characterizes exclusive reliance upon institutional policies; and third, that individual experimentation with ecologically responsible action both encourages experimentation in others and often provides models of more sustainable ways of living.