Can We Really Make A Difference?


hands with earth

While interviewing people for my book, Your Own Hands, I asked them all the same question: can we really make a global difference by lobbying towards things like sustainable economy, local production, and reduction of consumerism? Or is our movement destined to remain on the fringes of society?

Xero, an ardent proponent of the DIY culture and anti-consumerism, tells, I've lived in sustainable eco-separatist communities in Europe as well as building and living in treehouse villages back home made entirely from scavenged materials. I don't pay for my food, I either find, grow, or dumpster dive nearly 100% of all my food. I thrive off of about $25 a week. I live in a cabin now with a significant amount of recycled material in it, as well as having a scavenged solar network for electricity. We have a few dozen chickens now and will start raising chicks this spring.

I survive without need for a job, which frees up tremendous amounts of time for projects and further independence. I've taught myself electrical wiring, construction, metalworking, machining, woodworking, and countless other fun skills that help me avoid depending and participating in consumerism.

This is an inspiring example and I do stand in awe of people who have managed to throw off social conventions to pursue a life of freedom and independence, but one does wonder whether this can make a dent in a global consumerism-driven culture. After all, most people can’t, or don’t want to sever all ties with the government, so where does that leave us?

Is the wave of sustainable living, local-centered economy and ecological awareness a marginal movement, or can it actually have a global impact? I’ve heard many people say that we won’t be able to make any difference, because for every conscientious consumer there are a million reckless spenders, and for every organic backyard garden there are a million plastic bags of junk food. Others say that the yearning to return to closer, more self-reliant communities is nothing but hopeless nostalgia of people who have failed to adjust to a modern world.

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