Eco Tips: taking action.

17th November 2022

People often comment, ‘I am concerned about the climate crisis but I don’t know what to do!’

There is a whole range of things we can do, from at one end changing our lifestyle to making acts of civil disobedience. To say this is a range is not to say it is a progression and that having started with changes to lifestyle one must then progress down the line to acts of civil disobedience. Nor is it to say that either end of the range is better or more worthwhile. However from the viewpoint of integrity one hopes that those who engage in campaigning and actions are also prepared to adapt their lifestyles.

Within each type of activity there will again be a range of responses. People choosing to change their diet for example may choose to have a meat free day each week or to become fully vegan. 

What is the purpose of do something? 

It is to minimise, halt or reverse the adverse effects we humans have on the environment and to help, support or improve the lives of others (both human and non-human) who are adversely and/or unfairly affected by the crisis.

What can we do?

Change our lifestyle to reduce the impact of our footprint on the earth and its impact on the lives of others.

Whilst it may feel that changing one person’s lifestyle will not make a difference, it does. Each person who makes the change  shows that change is possible. This will encourage others to follow suit. And each person making these changes is creating a new – climate friendly – normal. We will only get to net zero when everyone has made changes to their lifestyle and the sooner we started the better. 

*Switch to a green energy supplier; reduce energy consumption by turning off appliances, turning down thermostats, using economy programmes, adding home insulation etc. For more info: https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/energy/green-suppliers-energy-crisis-rising-energy-costs

  • Swop to a largely plant based diet – a plant based diet can reduce your carbon footprint by at least 60%;  opt for local, organic, fair trade and animal friendly foods; minimise food waste – https://greentau.org/2021/08/09/eco-tips-4/
  • Opt for active travel (walking and cycling) and public transport in preference to driving; avoid flying – sign the Flight Free Pledge https://flightfree.co.uk/
  • Reuse, repair, recycle; minimise single use items; buy good quality long life products – The Ethical Consumer has helpful guides; buy second hand; borrow or hire for occasional use. Don’t buy what you don’t need – enjoy what you have!
  • Avoid waste by seeking out zero waste options for what you use in and around your home. 
  • Green your finances – use banks, insurance and pension providers etc that take an ethical and environmentally responsible approach to their investments – https://makemymoneymatter.co.uk/

* Re wild part of your garden; plant trees or hedges; plant insect friendly plants; install a water butt, a compost heap and maybe a pond. 

  • Support B-corps –  companies that undertake to do that bit more for the environment and for society. Avoid supporting companies that disregard the environment, don’t pay all their taxes, and/ or don’t pay their staff a fair or living wage. 
  • Support environmental charities financially and/ or as a volunteer. Support social well being charities. 
  • Read up on climate science, and on the ways and benefits of adapting our lifestyles. 

* Find a like minded group of friends for encouragement; set up a green group in your church; join Green Christian.

Campaign for change.

Whilst individuals can make significant changes to their lifestyle, there are somethings they personally cannot change. As an individual you cannot change the tax system that doesn’t tax aviation fuel. As an individual you cannot implement a subsidy scheme that would make public transport cheaper than private car travel. As an individual you cannot change legislation that discourages the building of on-shore wind turbines and solar farms. As an individual you cannot require all local councils to adopt a common recycling policy. And the list goes on – as an individual you might wish to an expansion of nature reserves, of rewilding landscapes, of implementing nature based flood defences, of ensuring all homes and commercial premises are adequately insulated against extremes of temperature, the provision of safe cycle routes through and between all urban areas, an end to the discharging of sewage into seas and rivers, curbs on industrial farming and fishing etc.

Where we can’t effect changes as an individual, we may find we can as a group – the more people in the group, the stronger their collective voice. As individuals we can address issues of climate, biodiversity and social justice in various ways.

  • Becoming an active supporter of an action group
  • Donating to support an action group.
  • Signing petitions addressed to local and central government, to big business and to multi nationals.
  • Writing individually to lobby MPs, local councillors, business leaders etc.
  • Joining organised  marches and demonstrations. 

As with changing lifestyle, read up on climate science and what changes we can make as a society to safeguard the environment and protect lives. 

Non-violent direct action

Martin Luther King Jr wrote that the goal of non-violent direct action was to “create such a crisis and foster such a tension” as to demand a response. Non-violent direct action has come to the fore in climate issues because of the lack of response from, in particular, the government and the oil industry.

Non-violent direct action may include sit-ins, strikes, blocking roads, climbing onto significant structures, and boycotts. It may extend to include damaging property such as graffiti, breaking windows or letting down car tyres. Often these are acts of civil disobedience (and probably increasingly so as the government introduces stricter laws limiting the right to protest). whilst others

actions, such as strikes and vigils,  are lawful. 

In terms of the climate crisis, non-violent direct action is being used to demand a response from government, from the oil industry, from banks and financial institutions, from churches (asking them to divest from fossil fuels), from charities (asking the National Trust to bank with somewhere other than Barclays) to actions that target consumerist products such as private jets and SUVs. 

Within groups that engage in non-violent direct action, there will be different roles for people some of which will involve the risk of being arrested, whilst others will not. 

Climate action groups also focus on educating and informing the wider society about the issues and how they can be addressed with the hope of increasing the number of supporters. The greater the number of supporters, the louder their voice will be.  

Read up on the climate  science and what changes we can make as a society to safeguard the environment and protect lives. Be informed about how government, local councils, and businesses work – and the media. Join a group for support and so that your voice becomes part of a greater whole.   It is especially important that if you are considering putting yourself in a position where you might be arrested that you fully understand what that entails and are sure that you can cope with the consequences. It is really important to be part of a group that offers advise, training and support. Christian Climate Action would be one such group – https://christianclimateaction.org/

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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