By Sid Garza-Hillman

For the record, I’m not anti-Prius and not just because Joan Stanford drives one…but…

“The Prius Effect” is a phrase I coined after many years of working with clients, and it is this: believing you are taking substantial action to solve a serious problem when in reality you are barely making a dent – and, more importantly, you probably know it. While the Prius Effect can apply to all areas of our lives (health, relationships etc.), I find it especially prevalent in the environmental sustainability sphere. Here are a couple examples:

  • Thinking that driving a Prius goes a long way in helping the environment when switching to plant-based diet has an exponentially greater effect.
  • Thinking that avoiding plastic straws (which actually account for less than 1% of ocean waste) goes a long way in reducing ocean waste when giving up or in the very least drastically reducing fish intake (fishing industry accounts for over 50% of ocean waste) has an exponentially greater effect.

And on that note…

Recently, Fodor’s included Mendocino Village as one of two destinations on its “No list 2023” – places to avoid visiting due to environmental concerns. Mendocino Village made their list due to its drought-related water struggles (some business in the village having to truck in water, etc.).

Sounds good and reasonable, no?

The Prius Effect strikes again.

At best a short-term, quick fix band-aid, and rather than recommending actions we can all take that would actually make a serious dent in California’s water issue, Fodor’s instead takes the easy route: just don’t visit Mendocino. But, yet again, moving to a plant-based diet significantly reduces water-usage and helps keep our water safer and cleaner.

None of this is to say that driving a Prius, avoiding plastic straws, or even giving some vacation destinations a break from intense tourism have no positive effect on the environment. They do and are both very relatively easy to steps to take that are in the right direction. But not even in the same arena as moving to a plant-based diet – a substantially advantageous move environmentally, ethically, and nutritionally.

Many perceive becoming vegan as difficult, more time consuming, and/or nutritionally risky, but the facts paint a different picture. But even if were more difficult…now is the time for tough choices, effective action, significant moves.

When it comes to the environment and the health of the planet we cannot afford more of The Prius Effect. We must first identify and then tackle the biggest environmental offenders.