When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint it’s not what you do it’s what can you do. For some people it’s not a big expensive to install solar panels on their homes, whereas others don’t own a home. Every individual action counts. Once you’ve figured out what’s possible for you to do, you should celebrate it by telling as many people as possible. Since every individual action counts, the more individuals doing something to help the planet can make a large collective impact.
Social influence can drive change, says Diana Ivanova, a research fellow at the School of Earth and Environment at University of Leeds in England who reviewed emissions reduction options in April in Environmental Research Letters. If you see other people taking steps to shrink their carbon footprints, “you may feel more empowered to enact changes yourself.”
Researchers call this transmission of ideas and behaviors through a population “behavioral contagion.” That’s where individual action can be a potent force for change, says Robert Frank, a Cornell University economist. “Installing solar panels, buying an electric vehicle or adopting a more climate-friendly diet don’t just increase the likelihood of others taking similar steps, it also deepens one’s sense of identity as a climate advocate,” Frank writes in his 2020 book, Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work. Those actions can also encourage other meaningful actions, like supporting candidates who favor climate-protecting legislation.