How to actually help fight the climate crisis when the world is on fire
A guide for when it seems like everything sucks, by the Green Fix.
I’m giving up on the idea that my work has to be polished all the time.
That I have to always have the perfect words to say on how to save the world, and never let my own frustration or tiredness show through in my writing.
The last two weeks were hectic, guys. I returned from an essential trip overseas and did all the paperwork that comes with it, started moving out of my flat, and more dramatically - I finished my full-time job with the plan to explore the world of freelancing and part-time work (so if anyone needs a writer, please get in touch).
Add in a sprinkling of the usual climate crisis and pandemic on top of that, and it’s pretty overwhelming.
But that’s OK. Mental paralysis is a symptom of an overwhelmed society. So many crises, so little time, and not much clue where to start. Let’s not hide it.
So I put together a list. It’s a list I wrote in a rage last November when we were all refreshing the news 40 times a day during the US elections. For what to do when the scale of global crises feel overwhelming and you’re tempted to cynically declare the world sucks and brood about how everything would be fixed if everybody saw the world as you did (come on, we’ve all done it).
Climate action doesn’t have to be perfect - true passion and care will take us far further than perfectionism and paralysis.
So here’s what to do when it feels like the world is on fire.
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What’s Going On?
Focus On… How to make a difference to the climate crisis
A guide for when it seems like the world is on fire.
Look after yourself
Changing the world 101: start by looking after yourself.
A burnt-out person does not change the world. And living in the current world is very burnout-able: headlines proclaiming mass extinction and a stream of depressing statistics aren’t very motivating.
But even if all you have the energy or ability to do is look after yourself, you have already made the world suck a bit less.
So do whatever makes you feel energised. Turn off notifications. Get your house in order. Self-care doesn’t need to be aesthetic, it just needs to work.
Focus on what you can do
The current news cycle of constant shock headlines from around the world is exhausting. And not particularly useful for anything except making us feel powerless.
The myth of individual powerlessness is just that - a myth that suits the current system. We all have the power to make a significant difference - it starts with focusing on what is in our control.
Not through the minor improvements like reusable cups and composting (sorry), but we have the power to influence our circles, and to work collectively. Fridays4Future is just a collection of individuals, after all.
And there are certain individual actions that have more impact than others:
Switch to a bank that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels
Reduce meat and dairy from your diet
Switch to renewable energy
Help your community
Look for opportunities to volunteer. There are almost certainly initiatives you can help out with like community gardens, nature conservation centres, food banks. My friend worked for a bat rescue helpline so… there are more ways to help than you might think.
Write to your local policymakers
Find out who your local and regional representatives are, and write/email/tweet them! Be that person that always has something to say.
You can find your MEP here. For your local representatives, check your local government websites. See what policies they’ve voted for. Are you opposed to a park being turned into housing? Say so! Do you think your local council lacks diversity? Say so! You don’t have to reserve your opinions to angry rants at your bathroom mirror like I did.
A lot of NGOs will run campaigns that will automatically send an email to your nearest politician when you join the campaign - so follow NGOs like Friends of the Earth, Global Witness and Amnesty International to get involved.
Improve your workplace or campus
I’m going to hazard a guess and say your office or campus is not a nirvana of perfect sustainability, inclusivity and diversity. So start that conversation. You could ask:
Does the organisation have particular sustainability commitments that are actively monitored, and if not, can they introduce them?
Is the team lacking diversity? How can hiring practices be made more inclusive? Could there be training in antiracism and sexism in the workplace?
How accessible is your organisation? Could it do more to be a friendly workplace for people with disabilities, or accommodating for those needing flexible hours or special arrangements?
Some people have told me they feel awkward bringing these things up. I get it. But fixing the world means doing some awkward things. And if your manager isn’t receptive to these conversations, it tells you a lot about the kind of place you’re working for.
Fixing the world is a pretty big task, so we’d better know what we’re actually talking about. Read up on the key concepts in climate justice, intersectionality and sustainable development. Diversify your reading list, podcast recommendations and Instagram feed.
Talk about it
We all have a circle of influence. Even if you only have 5 Twitter followers or your friends have no interest in sustainability. Talking about the climate crisis will have an impact on those around you.
Our peers have a strong influence on us: from our fashion style to what brands we buy.
When we start talking about the climate crisis and showing that it’s something that really matters to us, you make the topic personal in a way that a shock headline never can. And through trial and error, I’ve found there are ways to do it without completely killing the vibe.
This is an incomplete and kind of haphazard list. The message I want to get across is: we have the ability and the responsibility to demand a better world. Just because we can’t fix everything doesn’t mean we can’t fix anything.
Corporations and governments will proudly declare that we make a difference by buying something from recycled materials or taking a reusable bag to the shops. These are good things to do, sure, when the world is on fire, know that your influence does go beyond that.
To put the climate at the top of every government and economic agenda we need education, action and a refusal to accept anything less than true, measurable justice.
So Now What Do I Do?
I’ve shared this before and I’ll do it again: check out the Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World by the UN.
Read: How focusing on the things we can control improves wellbeing.
What environmental initiatives can I get involved in near me? (OK this should go in the next section but this tool is too cool not to include)
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Get involved in Fashion Revolution Week from the 19th - 25th April with their online resources.
Join a local cleanup as part of Earth Day’s global cleanup campaign.
Youth network Generation Climate Europe is recruiting volunteers for their working groups on biodiversity, climate justice and the SDGs. Apply before the 16th April.
CHANGE THE SYSTEM
Another consultation: tell the EU to end public funding for meat and dairy products in their new public consultation on promoting farm products.
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