A leader named Barbara

Changing the world can be as simple as buying bread

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, which means less blogging. And while there’s much to write about on the national and international front, I have to first tell you about Barbara, and how she helped change the world.

After I gave a talk at a local parish Tuesday on Laudato Si’, a woman came up to ask a few questions. We got to talking about things the average person can do to make big changes. And then, almost as an afterthought, she told me about her regular trips to the bakery, and how she would always bring back the same disposable bread bag that the bakery had wrapped a loaf of bread in many visits earlier.

While she knew it was right to reuse a perfectly good bag, she said she was worried that she’d be seen as “a kook”—that crazy woman who brings her used bag for reuse.

Then one day the young girl at the counter said this: “The owner noticed you bring back the same bag to use again. He said he should have bags made with the bakery name on it and give a discount when people bring it back.”

After all, the baker would save money on bags. And get some free advertising. He’d also use fewer resources to sell his bread.

I asked the woman her name. She told me it was Barbara. I responded saying, “Barbara, you’re a leader.” She humbly dismissed my words, but I repeated them and added, “You helped that business owner see the power of reuse—that’s how ecological changes happen. You’re not a kook. You’re a leader. Congratulations!”

Being eco-minded in a throw-away world isn’t always easy. Sometimes we wonder if our small efforts are worthwhile. But mind you, people are watching. Our small actions, when performed consistently, will change others—who will then change others, and onward the change multiplies.

This point about being an out-in-front change agent is made in the video below. I told Barbara to search for it and check out what she had just done.

You should check it out, too. Because like Barbara’s story, the dancer in this video didn’t care if he was the only person dancing. Then, in time, he started a movement. And the world around him changed.

Welcome to leadership.

Now, let’s go dance, buy our bread, and in a million other small ways, change the world.

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.