Climate activists worldwide are planning to take to the streets today for the Global Climate Strike. This movement is inspired by Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish activist who has made headlines around the world for her Fridays for Future strikes, and by other young activists who are demanding climate action from corporations and governments alike.
While these strikes are vital for garnering public attention, inspiring grassroots activism, and making politicians take note of the wants of the people, they aren’t the end all be all of climate change activism- we need to continue to do more to advocate for the issue.
In order to make change, we need to put strong, consistent pressure on decision-makers to implement climate change policy. I’m not saying that you have to quit your job and sit on the doorsteps of government officials every day in order to make a difference, but what I am saying is that there are things you can do on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to further push for climate action.
Lift Up Diverse Voices
The climate change movement is one that needs to encompass people from all walks of life, as it is an issue that will change the lives of everyone on earth. The face of the sustainability movement (particularly on social media) is too often white, cis, and able-bodied, and lacks the representation of diverse voices that the movement needs. Every day, lift up the diverse voices around you and support organizations like Indigenous Climate Action, the Extinction Rebellion, and the Climate Action LAb who are working to bring vital inclusivity and diversity to the environmental movement.
Talk About It
Frequently talking to your friends, family, and coworkers about climate change and other environmental issues is one of the most effective ways that you can raise awareness and inspire activism. Having meaningful discussions about these topics and the science behind them is a crucial part of getting everyone involved in the fight for climate justice. Since most of us aren’t overwhelmingly feeling the impacts of climate change on a continuous basis, it’s important to keep these topics in conversation so they don’t fly under anyone’s radar.
In order to be an effective activist of change, you have to keep updated on the latest climate science, policy, and regulations. You can do this by following publications like Grist and Climate Home News who dedicate themselves to reporting on environmental issues. By staying up-to-date, you can more effectively communicate about these issues with policymakers and other activists and can gain a better understanding of what you’re fighting for.
Posting online about climate change is one of the best ways to spread awareness. Because our world is so digitized and most people spend the majority of their time looking at a phone screen, reaching people through social media platforms and newsletters is easier and more accessible than ever before. Clear messages that are repeated often are the number one proven way to communicate an issue, and through social media, we all have the means to repeatedly post clear messages about the climate crisis and be effective communicators of the issue.
Local environmental organizations are often the ones up on the front lines fighting for climate justice, and they often rely on unpaid volunteers to help their mission. These organizations are a large driving force behind grassroots activism, and we all need to do our part to support their work. Try to volunteer weekly with a local organization like your local Citizens Climate Lobby or Sunrise Movement chapters, as it’s one of the most impactful things you can do to grow grassroots organization efforts.
Donate and vote with your dollars
While this isn’t a feasible option for all, those of us who are able to financially support those fighting for climate justice should. Whether you donate to a political candidate who is committing themselves to taking climate action, an organization that is on the front lines of political climate activism, or a social media influencer who works to inspire sustainable lifestyle changes, you are providing vital financial resources to people and organizations who can directly use that money to improve the reach and impact of their activism. Remember to vote with your dollars on a daily basis as well, and work to only support stores and companies who commit themselves to environmental responsibility. You can do this by buying secondhand, supporting your local farmers and artisans, and doing your research on a company before you buy from them.
Call or write your representatives
The job of our government representatives is to represent us, the people. While our impact is often diluted by lobbyists and corporate donations, it doesn’t mean we completely lack the power to impact policymaking. Writing and calling your local representatives is a really important, impactful, and underrated way to fight for climate policy. By communicating directly with your representatives about climate change, you are reminding them that:
This is an issue people care about
This is an issue people demand action for
Inaction on this issue will cause them to lose the votes of climate activists
Attend Local Government Meetings
While overarching, worldwide climate policy is needed to conquer this issue, the local level is where policy making truly starts. However, if your local city council doesn’t know that climate change is an issue their community cares about, they’ll often breeze by it. So, attend your local government meetings and make your voice heard. Encourage them to work to divest from fossil fuels, improve recycling infrastructure, and fund public transit initiatives. If you don’t show up and make your voice heard, they’ll never know that these issues are so deeply cared about by their local community.
As you can probably tell by now, being politically active is potentially the most important thing you can do in the fight against climate change. Our governments have the power to either save us from the climate crisis or remain complacent while the world burns around them, and we have the power to decide who will make these decisions. Make your voice heard by voting for climate-friendly candidates in every local and national election, and considering campaigning for candidates who push for climate change policy.
I hope you took to the streets to strike for the climate today, but I also hope that this strike isn’t where your time as a climate activist ends. Continue to strike, but also continue to stay informed, vote with your dollars, and push for grassroots activism. While corporations were the ones to cause this crisis, it appears to be up to us, the people, to demand that they stop being complacent and fix what they started.
Is the blog manager for Zero Waste Club, combining her love for writing with her passion for all things environmental sustainability. She is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is studying journalism, environmental studies, and food studies in hopes of building a career in environmental activism. You can find her on Instagram as @kaylaguilliams.