On the Importance of Cooperation for the Environment

Viktória Szőke

Recently more and more people are becoming aware of how damaged the environment really is. That would lead one to believe that the problem(s) will soon be solved, right? Wrong. Most people seem to share the same sentiment: “I recognize and acknowledge the problem, but I won’t do anything about it, because it isn’t necceseary. I mean, surely it won’t be my help alone that would save the entire environment.”

That statement has both some truth and some falsity in it. True, on your own you cannot balance out the damage caused by the majority, but there are many things that you can do to cause less damage and do more good. You can reduce, reuse and recycle, shop wisely, use long-lasting light bulbs, save water and electricity, etc. All these things help protect our environment, and most of them don’t take much energy or money.

Once you decide to lead your life in an environmentally friendly way, you have the right to expect others to do the same. There’s a long list of things that you can do as a group: for example, with a tree-planting organization. Just think how much time you can save, if you plant twenty-five saplings with five other people instead of doing it by yourself. Another thought in favour of cooperation is that if—let’s call the people that aren’t living eco-friendly lives “Group A,” and the ones that are, “Group B” —so if Group A sees that there’s an entire group of people already following those mostly simple tips listed before, they’re likely to feel more motivated and enabled to do the same.

Now that we’ve established how we—individually and as a group—can do something in our everyday life for our environment, let’s think about how this would really affect our Earth. As mentioned before, a single person alone cannot make much of a difference for the environment over the short term, but they can make a huge difference long term. They can motivate others to make the same eco-friendly choices, who can do the same for others, eventually forming a majority or at least a big enough group to balance out the rest. Now this big-enough group can actually make a difference, and when you think about it, they started as a single person, or only a few. Once you have educated yourself on the topic, how can you expect others to make those choices if you yourself don’t do the same?