‘There’s strength in numbers’ as the old saying goes…
But never has this been more true than in our globally connected modern world.
If you’re passionate about something, or feel like lending your voice to a cause, you can – at the click of a button.
Join a group on Facebook and share articles on social media; start a blog and connect with like-minded readers; or comment in forums, on websites and sign online petitions.
There are so many ways that we can use our voice now, and it’s easier than ever to join people who are fighting for a specific campaign, whether that’s to do with feminism, racism or environmentalism.
But what about when you decide to do something in person?
I love writing blog posts about causes I feel passionate about. For me, it’s a way to spread awareness through a format I feel comfortable with – blogging.
But often I feel like I could be doing more.
So, when I joined the London protest against the Taiji Dolphin Hunt, the feeling of uniting with similarly minded people to physically stand together was unbelievably empowering.
And the same feeling came over me again when I recently joined an employee network at my workplace. Focused on environmental issues, the network is a space for individuals from across the company to come together and raise concerns or ideas we have about sustainability, efficiency, waste and how to be greener – as individuals as well as a business.
We started with the usual ice-breaker as each person introduced themselves and explained why they wanted to be a part of the network. I feel like I may have rushed through mine but I tried my best to summarise my key passions and what I want to help improve.
Yet one member launched into a full-blown talk about plastic pollution and the things she’d already done to effect change locally, firing hard facts and statistics at us about the scale of the problem. And we all sat there nodding in agreement. Because we all feel exactly the same.
Over the last few months, there are more and more people talking the way she did. And what’s become evident to me is that it’s largely an effect of Blue Planet.
The impact that documentary made has been phenomenal. People who wouldn’t usually think about the amount of plastic they get through in a day, or worry about the recyclability of their food packaging, were suddenly gripped, horrified and inspired to do something.
Sales of keep-cups suddenly spiked and tote bags were hurriedly shaken out from the backs of wardrobes. The idea that we, the people, could effect change through small everyday actions had taken hold.
It’s sad that it took that a mainstream TV documentary for that realisation to sink in when, behind the scenes, various charities and individuals have been campaigning about plastic pollution and the need for individual change for years.
But it’s overwhelmingly positive that producers and directors of a well-loved, much anticipated documentary decided to use their platform to broadcast something bleak and heartbreaking in an effort to get us to wake up to the problem facing our planet and change our ways.
So yes, there were undoubtedly many people sitting in that network who had been spirited into being more ‘green’ as a result of Attenborough & Blue Planet. But it didn’t matter. They sat side-by-side with die-hard environmentalists; people who have campaigned and petitioned for greener living for years and we all had the same outlook.
We all thought that more could be done to make our company more eco-friendly and more sustainable. But we also thought that perhaps there was more that we could do ourselves. As individuals.
For me, there were two brilliant things that came out of that first meeting. Firstly, an action plan to raise with internal teams to check what was already being done, and how we could help enhance that.
Second, was the agreement to create a forum to swap ideas and advice – from ways to reduce our plastic consumption, to eco-friendly shampoos and bank accounts (yes, really!)
Because if you’re going to change the mindset of the wider community, we have to start leading from example.
And the fact that over 20 of us sat in that room and agreed wholeheartedly was exciting.
It felt powerful.
I left the room and went back to my desk feeling like maybe there was a way to make a difference and help our planet. Yes it may take some time, but imagine if every company in the UK encouraged their employees to have a network like ours? I think business practices and the working landscape would change significantly.
So if you’re ever in doubt about being able to affect change, just go out there and find someone else who believes in what you believe in.
There is more power in a group of people united for a common cause than we ever care to realise.