Individual Action, I

An elderly man is living in my neighborhood. He is probably in his eighties. Each morning, around 9 am, he walks along the small river close by with his 4-wheeled walker. Hanging on the walker is an empty plastic bag from Lidl. In his right hand, he carries a gripper. Whenever he comes across a piece of garbage (and there is a lot of garbage around), he stops, grabs the trash with his gripper, places it in the plastic bag, and keeps walking a few more steps until he arrives at the next piece of garbage. Each day. Every day. Winter, summer, storm, and rain.

As an academic working in the field of sustainability, constantly confronted with the immensity of the problems we face, I can’t help to wonder: do his actions matter? Or is he just a cute old man acting cutely?