Many people have heard this phrase as a part of a call to action for environmental concerns. Many take it as a way to remind them to take local steps towards global changes. This is layered with the hope that if enough people act similarly, actions on a global scale will occur. While this is a good mindset to have, it misses the more important part of the slogan.
If actions are chosen correctly, local actions can have a profound local impact. These actions can bring about a worthwhile result even if not enough people follow to bring a global result. The simple benefit brought to the local environment that you personally interact with can make such efforts worthwhile.
For example, instead of just planting whatever looks pretty, take a few extra moments when arranging your landscaping. By selecting native plants that have habitat value for local animals, you can greatly improve your local ecosystem. You won’t even have to sacrifice the aesthetics of your garden to do it. Many native plants can be just as beautiful as the non-native ones. By planting such a garden, you can turn your home into an oasis in the middle of a suburban hellscape for local animals.
Another measure that can be taken is sending water from your roof gutters into a rain barrel. In nature, most rainwater is absorbed into the ground where it either slowly seeps into the groundwater or is taken up by plants. With modern construction, there is a habit of sending water off site as fast as possible. The streams are not prepared to handle this much water all at once and this has resulted in flooding becoming more common. Even when looking at just a single yard, the water pouring out of a gutter can carve ugly channels into the ground as the good topsoil is washed away.
By installing a rain barrel, you can catch that water and then use it to slowly irrigate your garden. This results in you needing to use less water from the faucet to keep your plants watered. In a best case scenario, you won’t have to touch your spigot at all. This water will, in turn, slowly be absorbed by plants or seep into the groundwater just like it would if your house wasn’t there. As far as the water cycle is concerned, your house has vanished and been replaced by just your garden.
Two small measures that don’t take much work. Yes, if enough people did these things it would achieve great things on a global scale. But, unlike issues such as carbon emissions or overfishing, even just a few people taking local action can bring about local results.