We’re in the midst of the season of summer blockbusters, and this year’s crop once again is dominated by superheroes.

Movies are a great escape from reality and often have strong values at their core: doing what is right, standing up for the little guy and working to ensure good triumphs over evil.

The problem with superheroes is they’re fictional. When things go wrong, they can’t come flying in with their capes waving in the wind to save the planet.

That leaves us with the very real task of saving the Earth ourselves.

Character, as the saying goes, is “doing the right thing when no one is watching," not while streaming it live on social media to your followers or hiring a team of professional photographers to capture the moment.

That’s one thing the superheroes got right. After saving the world, they went back to their mild-mannered alter egos without seeking credit for good deeds.

In the environmental realm, quiet heroes live among us using their real-life super powers to help save the planet each and every day.

These heroes stand at their kitchen sinks after long days of work carefully cleaning out recyclables before putting them in the bins. They turn the air conditioner up a few degrees, turn out unnecessary lights and unplug unused electrical items. They combine errands to conserve fuel, take public transportation and buy local.

Some of these unsung heroes make a living teaching others about environmental stewardship, leading green movements and protecting our natural resources.

The green heroes also are those leading change in the workplace, with carpooling programs, alternative fuel vehicle fleets, rooftop gardens, solar- and wind-powered buildings and the education programs that go along with them.

Should we promote these types of projects so others may learn from and replicate them? Absolutely. Should we continue to invest in programs that educate and encourage acts of environmental responsibility? Without question.

The air, water, soil and wildlife can’t show their gratitude for the good deeds done on their behalf, and perhaps that is why the environmental superheroes are among the very best. They know it is more often than not a thankless task, but they do it because it is the right thing to do.

The reward is something bigger than themselves. It means understanding the power of feeling small in our big, beautiful, diverse world.

Remember, it’s never too late to begin your environmental legacy.

Carl Lisek is executive director of South Shore Clean Cities and vice president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writer’s.


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