The world watched in awe as Greta Thunberg rallied millions of people across the globe to march for climate change. Her activism didn’t begin on the global stage, though — it started in her hometown in Sweden in 2018, where she protested every Friday to raise awareness.
Thunberg is only one of thousands of climate activists who’ve devoted their lives to improving the planet. While some have taken their causes internationally, others have focused their efforts at home. You can also become a climate activist and make a difference in your area.
Climate Change Is on Everybody’s Mind
In a recent study, researchers surveyed 10,000 children between 16 and 25 years old about their perceptions of climate change. The findings showed that 59% and 84% of respondents were extremely or moderately concerned, respectively. Another 45% said climate change threats had negatively affected their daily lives, while 75% were worried about the future.
Young people aren’t the only ones worried about current environmental issues. The Environmental Voter Project reported that 14% of registered voters in the U.S. listed climate change as the No. 1 issue influencing their vote in the 2020 election.
The political divide in the U.S. has grown all too apparent as opposing parties hold up significant climate policies and environmental reform. A whopping 78% of Democrats believe climate change poses a severe threat to the nation, while only 23% of Republicans feel the same way.
If you’re reading the science, it’s impossible to deny that climate change is here and wreaking havoc on the planet. In many places, the effects have had extreme social and economic implications.
4 Ways to Become a Climate Activist Where You Live
Naturally, you want to make a difference in the fight against climate change. Whether you live close to Capitol Hill or on a small farm in Indiana, you can become a climate activist. Here are four ways to do your part for the planet right where you live.
Participate in Collective Action
Your impact on the environment counts, but you won’t save the environment and humanity singlehandedly. Climate activism demands collective action, so join a local grassroots movement or organization as a volunteer.
You could also attend a march for climate change, speak at city council meetings, sign petitions, and advocate for climate action on social media.
Also, consider voluntary membership in a cooperative. More than 64,017 cooperative businesses in the U.S. promote economic inclusion. Many co-ops have begun implementing energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives for their communities.
Good news — you don’t have to be an expert on climate topics to be an activist. However, knowledge is power, so educate others as you go.
Read as much as possible about climate change and stay abreast of environmental legislation at a standstill. You want to be able to explain why essential changes have yet to occur and suggest solutions.
Also, remember that climate change’s effects aren’t immediately apparent, so people may have difficulty understanding. Compiling and recommending resources, books, and documentaries can bring them up to speed.
Practice What You Preach
According to a survey conducted by Southern Cross University, 87% of respondents who adopted greener lifestyles had greater life satisfaction. Another 77% were interested in learning more about sustainable living.
Your lifestyle choices have the potential to influence other people. For instance, biking to work, shopping at farmer’s markets, and using reusable grocery bags are easy habits anyone can form.
You can also invest in energy efficiency at home or support local businesses that adhere to sustainability principles. About 85% of consumers shop sustainably, while 34% are willing to spend more on sustainable goods.
The key to getting anything done is to talk to your local representatives about climate change. Write a letter, call or set up a meeting to discuss your concerns. It might also be an excellent opportunity to brainstorm viable solutions.
Elected officials can change local policies and bring environmental issues to the state government and higher. Of course, all communication should be respectful, regardless of how passionate you feel about climate change.
Likewise, it’s important to vote for local, state, and national politicians aligning their missions to better the environment. This will require researching candidates to learn more about their ideologies, commitment, and track record concerning environmental issues.
Your Activism Matters for the Environment
It doesn’t matter how old you are or your background — you can raise awareness about climate change and make a difference in your area. Starting climate activism locally allows you to connect with your community and join forces. You’ll likely find many people who share your concern and passion for improving the environment and addressing these issues head-on.
Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.