Does ethical consumption extend to environmentalism?

This year I start my ethical consumption column with questions but before the musings, let me narrate an incident. A week or so ago I went out for lunch with my family and we noticed a taxi that was parked with its engine still on. A little over an hour later we step out and we realize that the driver inside was actually taking a nap with the air-conditioning on! So what did we do? Nothing. At that point I had these thoughts: a) how is talking to one moron going to change anything? b) was too mad and c) frantically doing carbon math in my head. If I had actually spoken to the guy, I believe I was inflamed enough to beat him up - math you see, gets me in that state of mind.

Which brings me to my next point: where was that guy when people are talking about global warming?? Whom do we blame for such a lack of environmental disregard? The media especially in a country like India doesn't seem to care; or rather the English language media kind of does, but what about regional language media? Lets assume that the sleeping guy hasn't been exposed to media then what of education? Again that's a no-go. In private schools with English as a medium of instruction, topics of social concern like global warming, environmental awareness, woman's rights, welfare etc are barely touched upon. These schools educate the future managers, doctors, police officers, lawyers etc of the country. If so-called elite schools do nothing to talk about such things expecting it from public schools perhaps like the one taxi-man went to, assuming he had an education, would be daft. I see this happening in a lot more countries than just India but the prevalence of social ignorance I believe is higher in the world's largest democracy. It is sadly ironic.

So all this brings me to my final question: Are you truly an ethical consumer only if you attempt to extend your knowledge of sustainable living to the masses? After much pondering I would have to say no. It is impossible to get everybody on the bandwagon: even educated, reasonably well-informed people don't give a hoot (sadly). Every person has a 'sphere of influence' - some of us have a bigger sphere than others. Simply by buying organic for instance a mother can influence her partner and/or children. By being an ethical consumer you have made a lifestyle choice and indirectly or directly influence people who fall under the sphere. Whilst endorsing a green lifestyle may bring more people in to the sphere like your family or close friends thinking your neighbour down the street or the taxi-man should start being green is a silly expectation.

This is the line between being an ethical consumer and being a tree-hugging environmentalist, in case anyone's wondering. So this is why I didn't punch him out.