I have been thinking of ways to be in the right relationship with the planet for more than 15 years. In this time the environmental movement has had many ups and downs, but the momentum we have built now feels for the first time, unstoppable. It finally feels that the climate and ecological emergencies are sinking into our collective minds.
It can also feel like too big a challenge and makes us feel powerless. The good news is: there is so much that we can do. We need a good mix of individual and collective action, action that inspires us and sends a strong message, but also action that is meaningful and relevant at this time. This is not a funeral, this is an uprising. Here is my favourite collection of big actions we can do to respond to the climate crisis like we mean it.
Go Plant-based (and eat for the climate)
Meat and dairy are the big villains of deforestation and a leading cause of biodiversity loss, water and air pollution. It is also an easy lifestyle change for the size of the impact you get.
Campaign at your local joint for more plant-based food on the menu, swap ingredients on your favourite meals and go that extra mile (on foot, of course!), support local organic food-growers for supercharging your impact.
Veganuary is a great place to get you started
If you’re still not convinced https://www.cowspiracy.com/
Get political, hit the streets
The magic number is 3.5%. That’s the percentage of population that research says needs to engage in non-violent protest to achieve radical change. Make your voice loud and clear by joining a local climate action group, or set up your own. Use your voting kudos to elect those with bold climate action plans. Get out onto the streets and count as the 3.5%! A little civil disobedience can go a long way.
Read more about the art of gentle protest here.
Green your power
Did you know that most of the growth in carbon emissions in 2018 were due to an increase in energy consumption in our homes as we cooled or heated them more? We need a fast and just transition to a fossil free world where the sun, water and wind reign supreme. Support renewables and local community energy schemes, switch to a green power supplier and obviously first, save energy.
Campaigning groups against fossil fuels here and here
The green energy supplier I use in the UK Ecotricity. I also invested in my local community energy group, find yours!
Be water wise
The connection between water and climate is poorly understood. In a nutshell, the more we drain water, remove forests and expose soil, the less water can moderate the sun’s energy that falls on the earth. We are seeing a supercharged climate as a result. Water is precious, besides conserving water, we need to help water get back into the ground, sinking it in. Gardens instead of concrete, forests instead of monocultures and permeable sidewalks are some of the ways we can do that.
For the science: www.rainforclimate.org
For tips on how to sink water: Check here
Move your Money
Where your money goes can help fight climate change. Our financial institutions have been quietly propping up the fossil-fuel industry. It is time to demand change. Lobby your bank, pension fund, church, workplace and universities to move their money away from such investments. Then do the same, make sure your bank account, savings and investments are doing good.
Tips on how to divest money here.
In the UK I bank with https://www.smile.co.uk/
Get from A to B responsibly
The transport sector has been slow to curb their emissions, we may need to give them a little nudge. Campaign against expansion of roads and airport and for zero-emission transport in our cities. There are some difficult changes for us to make too: fewer plane trips and holidaying closer to home, using public transport and ending our love affair with our cars while starting a new one with our bikes.
If you want to know and do more, check A Free Ride and Campaign for Better Transport.
Protect and Plant Forests
Deforestation is one of the key drivers of climate change. Behind a burning forest, is a profit-making industry that we sponsor through our daily choices. Reduce demand for beef, and palm oil, buy recycled paper and reclaimed wood and choose soya grown in Europe. Standing in solidarity with indigenous peoples and helping to amplify their voices, as well as pushing governments to legislate against products linked to deforestation are big ways to help too!
Learn more about deforestation and climate change here.
These are one of the good coalitions worth supporting for the Amazon right now.
It is highly likely that you know all of the above already. So have a think about what your barriers to action are, find support in others also concerned about climate change and remember to look after yourself so you can keep rising to the challenge.
Regenerative Impact & Giving for Lush
PS: For a roadmap of collective climate solutions and how they can contribute visit Project Drawdown. For more individual actions you can do to both avoid climate change and adapt to its unavoidable consequences, check 52 Climate Actions.
Photo credit: Ruth Andrade and Gabbi Loedolff at a Climate Camp in London circa 2009.