Mol (mollyringle) wrote,
Mol
mollyringle

The rule of one million

Okay, I hope you're ready for a West Coast feel-good save-the-planet piece of fluffy philosophy, because I HAVE ONE for you.

I call it the rule of one million, and it basically goes: "Is this action I'm contemplating going to make much difference? Maybe not on its own, but what if one million other people today also made this choice? Then would it make a difference?" And the answer then is usually yes. So I do the good thing.

I often think of this when faced with our garbage vs. recycling vs. food-and-yard waste options here in Seattle. I sweep the floor and find a piece of Rice Chex among the dust, for example. Do I save ten seconds and dump the whole dustpan of stuff into the trash? Or do I pluck out the single Chex and put it in the food waste where, technically, it should go?

Well, one Rice Chex isn't going to make the landfill overflow, nor contribute much to the composting world. But one million pieces of Chex? Think of that mountain of food. That's worth composting. So if one million other people are hesitating today over whether to bother in such a scenario--which, probably, they are--and if all of us choose the right thing, then it does make a difference.

Similarly:
I pick up one inch-long scrap of plastic from the beach. Big deal. One million scraps of plastic being picked up, though? That's probably several cubic yards saved from the Pacific Trash Vortex.

I plant a few flowers and one little tree. That's nice but it doesn't save the environment. But a million new trees or flower beds? Now we're helping the pollinators and the other animals and the air quality. (Although make sure they're plants native to your area for ideal results; that's a different post altogether; moving on.)

I smile and say "Good morning" to strangers today, and probably no one's going to care. A million people choosing to show politeness and pleasantness, however, is sure to make some difference somewhere.

So. Think about the rule of one million as you go about your day. I shall now stick this gold-star temporary tattoo upon your upper arm as a thank you for attending this seminar.

Tags: philosophy
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