Recycling, coastal flooding, carbon footprints, deforestation….our world has major hurdles to overcome and to the individual, moving the needle can seem like the impossible. We know what we can do together but how do we wield our power individually to effect climate change?  What happens when the energy dissipates after the march and protest and we are left in our solitary spaces to keep the fires burning? How do we continue the fight as parents, siblings, colleagues and ultimately, citizens?

Impact Hub Boston is known for its commitment to social impact. Bolstering that social impact are entrepreneurs and start-ups who fuel the fire to stamp out climate change.  But what of the fire of the individual behind the title and the organization?  In a conversation of no right or wrong answers, Hubbers came together at Member Lunch to share their personal truths on how they’re tackling climate change or if they are at all.  

  • How important is climate change to you personally on a Richter scale of 1-10?

Our members ran the gamut of the scale. Some couldn’t identity a number as the landscape of climate change was so vast while others split their placement based on their intellectual commitment and emotional intent.  Climate change mattered to them but it really wasn’t reflected in their everyday choices. They were trying to marry their choices to their beliefs, but found it difficult to resolve competing priorities. The fight for some was tied to their work, while others were active for personal reasons.  Overall, they agreed that their individual action, which wasn’t profound, did not convey their intent when it came to caring about climate change. 

  • What daily actions do you engage in to advocate for climate change?

Like many people, our members eat less meat, buy in bulk, choose sustainable products and try to reuse things. But due to cost restrictions, many times they felt forced to buy or use what is available.  Interestingly enough, some members were very conscientious about the footprints they left even in the wake of their efforts to do good. But it still left them frustratingly on the low end of the scale when it came to making the impact desired.

A major conflict all could attest to was that to affect climate change meant giving up conveniences relied upon.  Conveniences that were instrumental to their personal and business lives – begging the questions: how do you make a stand against a corporation that is violating your values yet you rely upon heavily in daily life? Or what about an unethical corporation’s subsidiaries you unwittingly patronize? 

  • Do you feel you’re personally making an impact? Why or why not?

Despite their efforts to make that all-important impact here at The Hub, without the amplifying effect of their businesses, our members felt small and that their impact individually didn’t resound as loudly. In their opinion, the needle could only be moved through corporate action and responsibility.  A needle that felt burdensome and emotionally overwhelming, making it all too easy to leave it to corporations to carry the weight.  Understanding that the current state of the world’s climate is a systemic problem, members admitted they felt off the hook when corporations didn’t do their part.  When they do exert the energy to push the needle, they also give themselves “carbon credits” that allows them an indulgence that isn’t pro-environment but pro-convenience and a reprieve from more taxing efforts.

In a world of protests and influencers, we all admitted that choosing paper over plastic and carpooling on behalf of the environment isn’t really enough and we pondered how to raise the temperature on personal responsibility and corporate action. How do we make climate change a conversational and participatory norm? What role do Hubbers see that big business can play in this important race to save our planet? In Part 2, our discussion delved into how the needle can be moved by corporations and individuals alike.  Stay tuned.