In his book The New Climate War (I highly recommend), climate scientist Michael E. Mann cautions against ‘doomism’, the false notion that nothing can be done about climate change. It’s not all doom and gloom, I promise! In fact, there’s plenty we as individuals can do. I’ve compiled a list of easy and impactful ways to get started below.
Talk about it
Some days the news just feels so loud and dire that you want to bury your head in the sand forever. Trust me, I’m right there with you. But if there’s one thing that we can all do to fight climate change, it’s to keep talking about it.
By talking about the climate emergency, we’re keeping it in the public consciousness. George Marshall is the founder of Climate Outreach, a non-profit organisation that focuses on generating public engagement with climate issues across the political and social spectrum. He argues that ‘climate conversations are the essential underpinning for political change’, and hosts workshops on how to talk to all kinds of people about climate change, which you can view below:
Once you get started, talking about climate change is pretty easy. Start with something you’re particularly passionate about -- for instance, after our interview with a Vegware expert, I spammed all my group chats about the magic of composting (you’re welcome, friends). Make sure you also drop your MP a line, so they know what’s on your mind. Fighting your corner is their whole job, so make sure they know what’s afoot.
Encourage your workplace to set (and achieve) science-based targets
As businessman / environmentalist Tom Steyer says, ‘the world needs the pledges they are making to materialise into concrete execution plans in the short term, and not just promises of future action.’
Pushing our workplaces in the right direction -- the direction of 1.5 degree Celsius, that is -- is a great way for one person to amplify their climate action. Have a chat with your boss about climate strategy, what their plans are for getting to net zero, and if there’s anything you can do to help them get there. Employee-led eco-movements can instigate real, lasting change in a corporate environment, and your workplace could be the next case study.
Vote, vote, vote
Whether it’s a big ol’ general election, or for your local council seats, every single election counts. Political leaders are the ones with their hands on the levers, but remember -- we’re the ones that put them there. By showing up at our polling station and voting for candidates with a green agenda, we can make sure that climate action remains a priority in politics.
First things first, make sure you’re registered to vote. No need to wait until an election is looming! Research the candidates’ platforms and see what they’re pledging. Write and ask them questions. Show up at local debates and ask them even more questions -- you’re nothing if not committed! And if you think someone’s the real deal, why not volunteer to knock on a few doors, or stick a few pamphlets through the letterbox? Then, last but certainly not least: show up at that ballot box, tick that box, and make your voice heard.
I’ve just harped on at length about voting, but why not run for something yourself? Be the climate candidate you want to see in your next local election, and find out how to become a councillor in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
If you’re not keen to climb the podium yourself, get in touch with your mayor or local representative via email, head to their surgeries for a chat, or attend council meetings that are open to the public. Remember -- they’re there to represent your interests, so let them know what they are!
Get involved in your community
This idea can take so many shapes and forms, depending on what your areas of interest are. Why not get in touch with a local environmental group, and check out what needs doing? For instance, in Scotland the Highlands and Islands Environment Foundation signposts local regeneration projects that you can get stuck in with, like beach cleanups, bird box making and supporting seagrass restoration. For those keen to get their hands dirty and are interested in growing their own fruit and veg, chances are there might be an allotment you can put your name down for.
Another great way of making change in your own patch is getting involved in your local paper / Facebook group / neighbourhood news app. These places can be a treasure trove of fascinating community chat, run by hyper-engaged residents who are passionate about where they live. You couldn’t ask for a better place to ignite positive, homegrown change.
Find ways to lower your personal carbon footprint
Eco-anxiety is on the rise, and while these feelings can be difficult to wrestle with, they can also be a great catalyst for change. Adopting more planet-friendly habits has shown to help reduce those feelings of fear, and empower us to do more. Whether that’s taking the train instead of flying to your next holiday destination, or putting the laundry on a lower temperature, there are so many ways to be part of the solution to climate change.
Making spending choices that reduce your personal carbon footprint is also an important way to start that ripple effect of change. Picking up a plant-based patty for burger night or swapping over to a renewable energy provider signals to those markets that you’re ready to spend money on sustainable solutions -- and if you can get some pals in on the action, even better. If you need some inspiration for where to start, the Pawprint app has a great list of eco-friendly actions and habits you can take on.
Don’t let the doomism get you down. There’s always something we can do to fight for our future, and so many places where we can do it. Now let’s roll up our sleeves and get started.
Pawprint empowers people to live a more climate-friendly life, and helps businesses engage employees in their sustainability efforts. Get your boss in on the fight against climate change by pitching Pawprint to them today.