Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Small Actions Accumulate into Big Changes

My first step in using the evolutionary process of niche construction as a guide for active change in
my own life is to think about my actions in terms of their accumulated effects on my environment and how these changes feed back to affect me.

Small Actions Accumulate to Create Immense Change (text over photo of waterfall: Troll Falls, Alberta taken by Shari Monner)
A familiar example of accumulated effects is recycling (or not recycling). While a single plastic lid placed in a recycle bin instead of a garbage bin may not do a whole lot to reduce the size of our landfills, each decision contributes. I personally forget my awesome, sparkly, reusable mug about once a week and end up using a disposable coffee cup instead. If I put all 52 of those recyclable plastic lids in the garbage, I’ve increased my contribution to my local land-fills by quite a lot each year. If, on the other hand, I take the extra couple seconds to separate the components of my weekly memory laps and put the lid in the recycle bin, I am decreasing my contribution to my local land-fills by that same amount. 

Taking the extra few seconds to separate and recycle the components of my disposable coffee cup has other effects as well:
A woman and an orangutan sitting beside one another in beach chairs; both sitting with right leg crossed over left and pouting.

1.  it keeps the cricket on my shoulder from getting too chatty
2.  ever so slightly alleviates my guilt about forgetting my reusable mug
4. helps with habit formation so I'll remember to do it next time
5.  allows future plastic to be produced from recycled material rather than being made ‘fresh’

The moral of the story...and what I will be taking into consideration in my daily life throughout my VaryNiche that even the smallest action can make a huge difference in our lives. I think of my niche as an ever changing composition of my own that in turn causes change in me.

Stay tuned for weekly adaptations that I’ll be making as I compose my environment.  Feel free to follow along and share your experiences as well.

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