McKinsey Study Shows Small Steps Do Matter, After All

carbon and consumers image

Certain websites suggest that small steps are useless; that while "we have a moral responsibility to do what we can as individuals, we just don't have enough time to win this battle one household at a time, street by painstaking street, from coast to coast." Others say " between greenwashing and green fatigue, emphasizing little behavioral changes may actually be hurting."

Well, it turns out that small steps and individual actions DO make a difference. New statistics prepared by McKinsey and Co. show that U.S. consumers have direct or indirect control over 65% of the country's greenhouse-gas emissions, and how we live, drive or shop makes a big difference. "We in the U.S. have a much greater ability to influence this issue than perhaps people recognize," says Jon Creyts, a McKinsey principal who assembled the numbers.

carbon control image

According to the Wall Street Journal:

"Industry -- including oil, steel, chemicals and cement -- produces 23% of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the McKinsey study. But a handful of other emission sources more directly controlled by consumers far outweigh industry when those sources are pooled together.

Passenger cars account for 17% of U.S. emissions -- something consumers could affect by driving more-efficient cars or by driving less. Residential buildings and appliances contribute another 17% of emissions, underscoring the impact consumers could have if they lived in smaller buildings, or added more insulation, or bought a more energy-efficient model next time they replaced their washing machine."

What we do as individuals does make a difference. Tom Friedman is wrong to say "Change your leaders not your light bulbs"- we have to do both, street by painstaking street, from coast to coast. ::Wall Street Journal

Small Steps Matter:

Small Steps Matter
Weathercocks, Signposts, and Compact Fluorescents
Urban Revitalization: Small Steps Yield Big Results
365 Small Steps Cover a Lot of Ground

Related Content on