I was wondering what could I do to fight back "bad" companies and practices, for instance seed industries the produce MGOs, companies that starve their employees, companies that pollute the environment, bad politics (like TTIP) ...

I am an engineer, I feel the need of a practical solution. When I was younger (now I am in the thirties) I believed I could really change the world, have a car that does not pollute the environment, build a solid rocks-and-wood chalet that would last centuries and I could leave to my future child, ... Now I am totally discuraged, and I feel like I can do nothing to change even the smallest and dumbest thing in the world.

As an example to show what I mean by the above, I avoid turning on lights in my workplace except when absolutely necessary -- which seems totally normal to me. I share my office with a dozen of colleagues, and all of them automatically turn on the lights as they enter, even if the sun is shining so bright that one could barely see that they are lit. Many times I've tried to explain them why I hadn't turned them on, what are the consequences of having them on without necessity, I've explained what are the consequences of global warming that one can see on a daily basis -- but this hasn't changed their behaviour. Finally, I gave up. When they turn on the light, I just look at them expressing my total disapproval, but I simply can't treat them as "enemies" and risk loosing my job because of that.

Personally, I see the following as having little effect:

  • using political vote as a way to make pressure on politics and force them to impose rules
  • protesting
  • using my market choices to bias the market

What I mean by the above is that if, for instance, I chain myself to the entrance of a the building of a bad company or I peacefully protest against a bad politician, at best I will be ignored, at worst I will be sued and I will have to face expenses I am not ready to take, or beaten up by the police, or loose my job, or simila (I am thinking of what happens in my home country, Italy, about the protests against the TAV trains, where peaceful people, like elderly and majors, were beaten up by the police or arrested) again with little or no effect.

Vote is another no-go choice: I have absolutely no trust in politics, as I perceive democracy flawed by design -- what I mean is that it would be great if anyone had an high level of education and could choose among candidates that are examples of transparency, justness and correctness, but this is not of course the case in the real world. Think again about Italy, where people choose according to what trash television shows say, and a politician (think about the ridiculous person of your choice) can rise its popularity by buying a famous football player for his team. Even if one candidate was the real best politician in the world, in western countries the vote is so biased by external factors like television that he/she would have no hope of winning.

The choice that is usually suggested is to boycott economically the bad practices. Let's suppose that I choose not to buy clothes made in Bangladesh because of the poor working conditions of that country, and I choose to avoid clothes made by MGO cotton because harmful for the people and for the environment. Good choice, but I have very little control on what I am buying (for instance, no label says where and how the cotton was produced), and also I have a very limited budget so I cannot afford to buy a 200$ crappy t-shirt just because it claims to respect my criteria (even though, I would be ready to do this if I had the guarantee that the t-shirt is effectively top-quality, meaning that it would last 10+ years). Plus, if anyone did the same, these people would starve.

What I am doing right now is to choose what I consider "the best I can do" -- for instance I buy biological eggs, I make my clothes last years (I am wearing jeans that are almost 10 years old, with some repair but I don't care), I buy only things that look extremely good quality (of course within the limits of my budget) to me so that I won't have to throw them away in few years, I am building my forniture by myself to ensure that is robust and durable, I don't buy things according to trends, I do not use social networks, I do not have a smartphone, I save energy, have no air conditioner at home, I am involved in several no profit organizations, ... Also, I try to spread "good habits" to people around me -- sadly most of the time without success, as I've written above.

I feel I am not doing enough. If someone were to ask me "what are you doing for whales? What are you doing for malformed births caused by MGOs? What are you doing for environment?" I would have no convincing answer.

It is suggested to be informed, but it is very difficult to do -- Internet is full of information but no way to know how reliable it is, and of course I cannot know everything of any object and problem around me. Also, knowing stuff makes me only sadder, angrier, and useless.

What would be the good way of facing the above feeling? Thanks for your suggestions!

  • 3
    That's a very broad question, and people really do write whole books about this. We're not really set up to tackle big sprawling questions: we are here to tackle specific questions that can be answered in a few paragraphs.
    – 410 gone
    Jul 12 '15 at 16:04
  • I agree with that, could you please provide a tentative, short list of books or articles that cover the issue? I have spent quite a lot of time searching for them, but what I have found usually derails in conspiration theories, UFOs, ... :S Thanks a lot for your answer!
    – Noaaa
    Jul 12 '15 at 19:37
  • I haven't read any of Sian Berry's books, but she is an incisive thinker and a good communicator, so her books may well be a good read. I don't know where you are in the world, but many places have one or other kind of Green or Sustainability political movement which strives to do something different to the usual kind of politics.
    – 410 gone
    Jul 12 '15 at 20:01
  • 2
    The other thing is that you shouldn't let anyone else make you feel guilty about this stuff. Do it because you can, because you enjoy it, because you see a need and because you have skills that you can contribute. But not because you feel guilty. Find stuff you can get involved with at the local level with other people that makes an immediate difference to people's lives: Time Banks, Food Banks, Credit Unions, community clean-energy co-ops, there are many choices
    – 410 gone
    Jul 12 '15 at 20:03
  • Thanks again, I'll have a look at these books. Concerning your 2nd reply, I do not let others influence me -- the "someone" is an hypothetical one that I've used to state what I feel inside me, let's say it's the voice of my conscience...
    – Noaaa
    Jul 12 '15 at 20:50

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