The Power of Small Book Review

by heather

7596557When it comes to going green and saving the environment, it’s easy to get discouraged.

Really easy.

For instance, I was searching around online yesterday doing research, and these are just some of the headlines I saw.

“Catastrophic loss of coral reefs projected”

“China and India’s consumption of energy and goods skyrocketing”

“Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico far bigger than initial estimates”

Look at headlines like that for an hour, and you almost lose your will to live.  At times like this, it’s tempting to think, “Well shoot.  If I can’t save the world, I might as well do nothing.”

Yeah, I’ve been there.

41rtmebiml_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_Fortunately, this time I was able to avoid slipping into the “Nothing I Do Matters” doldrums. How’d I do it?

I’d just finished reading The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference.

The Power of Small

In today’s day and age, we’re always being urged to look at the big picture. People are always telling us not to sweat the small stuff, to go hard or go home, to focus on the big projects and skip the little ones. So, we keep pushing for that big end goal, our eyes on the prize.

But by not appreciating the small stuff, we’re doing ourselves an incredible disservice. Because we’re so focused on the big picture we forget how important, and how beautiful, our tiny victories can be.

By not celebrating our tiny steps, we’re robbing ourselves of the joy of the journey.

“We can do no great things-only small things with great love.”

-Mother Teresa

Small and Green

So, what’s all this got to do with going green?

Well, after I finished the book I couldn’t help but think of all of us that are trying to change the world one tiny step at a time. I know that I sometimes feel that all these little things like recycling, harvesting rainwater, switching to CFLs, and starting a vermicompost bin aren’t really doing much in the scheme of things.

After all, there are over 6 billion people on this planet. How much of a difference could I possibly be making?

But, that’s focusing on the big picture.

Now that I’ve read The Power of Small I realize just how special all those little things really add up to be.  Sure, starting my vermicompost bin isn’t going to change the world.  And buying a used pair of jeans versus a new pair isn’t going to stop global warming.

But those small things add up, and like a snowball, they get bigger. I’m doing these things, and you’re doing them, and your neighbors and family are doing them.  Suddenly, all of your amazing actions, my amazing actions, and their amazing actions are adding up in a very big way.

And together, our small actions really can change the world.

Do Something Small Today…

So, I just wanted to put this out there today because I know if I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the challenges we’re facing, then you probably do too.  But, we really are making a difference. One small step at a time.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

-Lao Tzu


Heather July 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I LOVE this post!!! Thanks for this! I agree…it’s hard to feel like the small things we do as individuals add up. Yet I know when I look into the garbage bin the day before garbage day, that my composting and reuse of little things around the house is making a difference. And I know when I look at our food budget and go to pick up our CSA shares, that our eating more local and more organic is making a difference too. (My budget is actually LESS than it used to be for food!) Thank you Thank you Thank you for the great reminder to celebrate the little things!!!

Kristin July 15, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Thanks for this article! I agree with Heather – we used to pitch 2-3 bags of garbage per week and now we’re down to 1/2 a bag. Caring for the little things is adding up. I’ll have to check out that book, sounds like a good one.

Mrs. Money July 15, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Yes, this is awesome. I get SO overwhelmed with all the bad news (especially when I read doomer blogs about peak oil and the ones that think the Earth will be inhabitable in 20 years). I do everything I can to live a “green” life and it makes me sad when I see others doing harmful things to the environment. Sometimes I just want to slap people! Thanks for the reminder that there ARE other people who care about the future of the environment too, and are making small changes to benefit everyone.

Green Bean July 15, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Yay for the reinforcement. We do need to remember that small can add up to something meaningful.

matt July 15, 2009 at 9:38 pm

To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, “Never doubt that a small group of motivated people can change the world……indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

karen July 16, 2009 at 7:22 am

This is so true. I always say small peppers are the hottest. Power of small can not be ignored. I started being green with a very small act and that led to another and so on. When you start with one little thing, you don’t get overwhelmed. And ain’t that the true with life in general? Being green is no different. Thanks for bringing that up.

heather July 16, 2009 at 3:15 pm

You guys are right on.

One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He says “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Perhaps not entirely relevant to what we’re talking about here, but it made me think of it just the same. I think we have to just keep on keepin’ on, and have faith that we truly are starting to turn the tide.

Thanks so much to all of you for writing in!

Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, Authors of THE POWER OF SMALL July 20, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Heather, thank you so much for your wonderful and inspiring post. No matter how many times we hear it, we never cease to be touched by the power we have to affect the lives of others with our books. Let today, the 40th anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon be a reminder to all of us that nothing is out of reach. No matter how large and intimidating your goal may seem, you can accomplish it, one small step at a time.

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