Heatwaves are sweeping the globe as temperatures keep rising, and climate anxiety is at an all-time high: it has truly become impossible to ignore the environmental crisis that we live in. Social media is overflowing with messages of alarm, as are news programmes around the globe. But in these times of fear, the worst thing we can do is let panic overwhelm us to the point of inaction. Instead, all those concerned about the crisis (which should be everyone) should use those feelings to fuel the drive to become a climate activist and get involved in the fight to beat the climate emergency.
By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist, and vegan fashion expert.
Ditch meat and dairy. If you haven't yet, make this simple yet incredibly effective dietary switch today. Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of the environmental crisis, and the UN has urged for a worldwide switch to plant-based meals to offset the worst effects of climate change. Research from Oxford University has shown that going vegan is the biggest step that individuals can take in order to limit their impact on the planet. If you think that going vegan sounds like a daunting step, think again – today's amazing selection of vegan options in restaurants and supermarkets make the transition easier than ever. Take it slow and phase things out, and order a free Vegan Starter Kit from PETA to help you on your way.
Drop fast fashion. The fashion industry is among the most polluting industries on the planet. In 2019, the UNEP and Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported that the garment industry was responsible for 10% of global annual carbon emissions. The report stated that at this pace, fashion's emissions would rise by 50% by 2030 – a terrifying prospect if we don't slow down the pace with which we produce, consume, and discard fashion. Adopting a more mindful approach to your wardrobe can mean taking steps like buying more secondhand items instead of newly produced, supporting ethically minded brands, and simply buying less – and, as a consequence, throwing away fewer items.
Look over your investments. You may not even consider the impact of your pension and other savings – but unbeknownst to many of us, our pension savings may be invested in industries that fuel the climate crisis, such as fossil fuels. As a pension is a long-term investment, this could add up to substantial damage. Looking over your savings portfolio and speaking to your pension provider about greener investments – and changing providers if you find it best to do so – could go a long way towards playing your part in fighting the climate emergency.
Contact policymakers. It's often said that individual action barely makes a difference when it comes to climate change, and it is largely true that systemic change is more urgently needed. Does this mean that all of us who are not politicians should just give up? Absolutely not. One action that individuals can take that really can help move the needle forward is contact those in charge and make their voices heard. Write to your local elected official to urge for a response on their actions on climate change. Will you receive a form response? Perhaps. But what this will achieve, if enough people do it, is that policymakers will be aware of the importance these issues have to constituents, which is likely to prompt action.
Attend protests. Protest action is effective – the attention received by campaign group Extinction Rebellion is proof of that, as are the mass protests around the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. While protests may not get the immediate result that they aim for, they are often a crucial part in pushing campaigns forward. Attending a mass protest such as local climate marches can be a good way to spark your passion for activism, as well as meet like-minded people – and of course to be part of the push for change.
Organise actions. No climate marches or environmental actions happening in your town? Organise your own. Start with a Facebook group, perhaps get some flyers printed and put up around town, and watch your own movement grow. Environmental group 350.org has a useful guide on organising for their Global Climate March that can be applied to any event you wish to organise. From spreading the word online to reaching out to media, this guide has everything you need to know to put together your own action.
The climate crisis affects all of us – and there has never been a more urgent time to get active. No way of doing activism is more or less important than another, and the planet urgently needs us all to get involved in this crucial fight.
By Sascha Camilli
Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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