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No glue required: everyday ways to be a climate activist

Thousands of environmental activists around the world are being threatened, detained, silenced and attacked every day for trying to prevent the illegal and legal destruction of the natural world.

In 2019, over 200 environmental activists were murdered, up from 164 the year before. And the blood is on the hands of oil giantsmining groupslogging companies and cattle ranchers.

The fact that these people are laying their lives on the line to protect our natural world should be enough to persuade those of us living safe and happy lives to perform whatever action we can to help tackle climate change. This could include switching banks, ditching fast fashion, using renewable energy and cutting down our meat consumption.

So, what can we do to be every day climate activists?

 

Berta Cáceres (above), environmental activist, indigenous leader and winner of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize who was murdered in March 2016 by a privately hired armed group trained by the US military.

Every action is a form of activism

Being an activist doesn’t just involve waving placards and getting arrested. It can be any specific action designed to have an effect. Whether that’s the food you buy, the bank you use or who you vote for; every action is a form of activism.

If we want to see progress, we must act collectively but it doesn’t require a majority. It is a surprising phenomenon that if only a few percentage of people act, then demands are likely to be met. So, individual actions do make a difference.

Everyday actions matter most and consumers are inherently powerful through the choices they make. Every time you choose to, or not to, purchase something you are making a difference.

You don’t need to be perfect, but when faced with a choice try asking yourself this simple question; does this action fuel or tackle the climate and ecological crisis?

Don’t hold back. Just get involved

Beyond your everyday individual actions, the most effective, enjoyable and long term way to be an activist is to be part of a community. You will feel supported, empowered and it might just change your life.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of organisations around the world that you can get involved with. Whether you want to help plant trees, campaign for nature, lobby the government, petition companies, educate communities or protest, there’s an organisation for everyone.

An internet search can help you find activist organisations near you and Patagonia Action Works is a great place to start with a global directory. If you’re based in the UK, visit Take Climate Action that promotes local solutions to the global crisis.

 

Consumer activism

Every time we shop we are making a statement. We know by now the damaging impacts of fast fashion, unsustainable farming, single use plastics, fossil fuel energy and many other every day consumer actions.

Never underestimate your power as a consumer. Products and services exist based on consumer demand. It really is as simple as; if we don’t buy it, they won’t make it. So think carefully about every purchase.

A simple process is, before a purchase ask yourself, “do I need it or want it?” If you need it, is that the best choice for the environment that you can afford? And if you want it, will it truly make you happy?

 

Political activism

Democracy is a broad term, and different democracies vary in their level of effectiveness, representation and corruption. However, it is a near global right that any citizen can contact their government representative on a topic of importance to them, and everyone should expect a reply.

Citizens should be able to call, email and write to their representatives. They may also be able to meet with them in person. There is no limit to the number of times this can be done.

One of the simplest steps into climate activism is to simply email, call or write to your government representative on the issues you feel most strongly about.

 

Educational activism

One of the most powerful forms of activism is education. Most school curriculums around the world pay lip service to the climate catastrophe. Some curriculums do nothing at all. But it’s not just the youth being let down. Most adults do not understand the scale of the crisis; shielded from the truth and size of the emergency. They are emotionally disconnected and therefore do not act with the urgency needed.

Ask yourself when was the last time you spoke to a friend about the climate crisis and discussed what can be done about it? When did you ask your boss what their net zero plan was? Do your children and young family members really know what is happening? Do your parents?

Non-violent direct action 

History has shown that non-violent direct action works. For half a century, environmentalists and scientists have been warning of the dangers of climate change and biodiversity collapse but the change needed has been constantly resisted. Direct action is not only required, but overdue.

You don’t have to get arrested or even protest to take part in non-violent direct action. These groups need a lot of support for those who are willing to lose their liberty. Whether it’s catering, logistics, graphic design, administration or legal aid, there is a role for everyone when it comes to climate action.

Prominent non-violent direct action groups include Fridays For Future, Extinction Rebellion, Sunrise Movement, Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd.

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