The Power of One

by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Exec. Editor

Richard Johnstone
Richard Johnstone

ďThink Globally, Act Locally.Ē   ďThink Global, Act Local.Ē

Iíve seen both these versions on bumper stickers advocating a variety of causes over the years, and have always liked the advice. And whether you prefer the grammatically correct version, or the pithier, punchier one, the pointís the same: Be concerned about whatís going on in the larger world, and do what you can about it in your own neighborhood.

This slogan plays well into the American ideal that stresses the power each of us has to make a difference. Itís a potent, appealing notion, and itís one thatís been applied repeatedly during our history, by individual American citizens working for everything from civic improvement to civil rights. Itís all about one personís ability to ignite a movement, start a crusade, change (at least a small corner of) the world.

And in a long, hot summer filled with debates in the halls of power in Washington on Big Issues such as Global Terrorism and Global Warming, itís comforting and empowering to know that the rest of us can also make a difference, in ways large and small.

In your home, your car, and your neighborhood, there are ways that you can reduce energy usage, cut emissions, and save money. Here are some relatively easy ways to apply The Power of One, and then hope that your efforts get multiplied over and over again on your street, in your neighborhood, in your community, in the Commonwealth, and across the country and the globe.


Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. These bulbs, now widely available at hardware, home- improvement, grocery and drug stores, are a sound long-term investment and a real energy-saver. Each compact fluorescent bulb significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions by using less energy than a regular, incandescent bulb.

Install a low-flow showerhead. This will conserve water generally AND save energy by using less heated water, and thus reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Recycle. According to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, you could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling just half of your household waste.

Purchase the most energy-efficient home appliances you can afford. Doing so will save energy immediately, and will pay off financially over time. Look for the Energy Star label to find the most efficient appliances, and refer to the Energy Guide label to determine the efficiency of specific models.


Pump it up! Tires inflated to the proper pressure burn less gasoline, saving money and reducing pollution.

Whatís your hurry? As Andy and Barney said to a frantic, hot-headed business tycoon speeding through Mayberry in a memorable episode of The Andy Griffith Show, whatís your hurry? Each mile an hour over 60 mph that you drive costs you an extra 10 cents per gallon. Not to mention the cost if you get a speeding ticket Ö

Jump in a pool! Good advice on a hot August day, or year-round when youíre talking about a carpool. No matter how fuel-efficient your vehicle is, or how many or few miles you commute, or even what the price of gasoline is at the moment, you will save substantially on fuel and vehicle wear-and-tear if youíll carpool to work, school or shopping with neighbors and friends. Plus, youíll reduce the overall amount of vehicle emissions every day you carpool.


Eat more locally produced food. The food on your dinner table had to travel to reach its destination. The longer the journey, the greater the amount of fuel needed to transport it. So consider eating even more locally grown and locally produced foods, which will support your local farmer, and save fuel (and reduce carbon dioxide emissions) as well.

Act local(ly). Consider putting your individual stamp on a local cause or civic endeavor in which you believe. From starting a carpool, to running a recycling campaign, to helping weatherize a senior citizenís home, you CAN make a difference. Itís all about The Power of One.

And ultimately, like a ripple in a pond, every good deed you perform in your community radiates outward to the larger world.


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