How your actions help the planet
Sustainable Living

How Your Actions Help the Planet: Multiply Your Impact

After being overwhelmed by the IPCC Report on climate change, Krista and I wanted to spend some time focusing on personal actions that could help the planet.

We’ve looked at a few areas of our lives so far, such as gardening, our food choices, and our energy choices. This week I’m looking at how we use our time and the ways our actions help the planet.

4 Ways to Make our Actions Help the Planet

Here are four suggestions on how you can take action in your life to make a difference for our planet. While there will always be small, individual actions we can take to combat climate change, I feel that the actions I’m highlighting here will help magnify your impact on an even greater level.

Vote Sign. Voting as a way our actions help the planet
Photo Credit: Elections Canada

1. Voting

I’m a firm believer that our small collective actions can add up to make a difference, but I also acknowledge that change needs to happen at a corporate and government level for climate change to be addressed at the speed it has to be. Governments can enact changes such as banning single use plastics, which make huge impacts on a large scale.

Being politically aware and enacting our right to vote is one huge way our actions help the planet. With the next Canadian federal election taking place on September 20th, 2021, now is the time to seek out information and cast your vote!

Helpful Links for Voting Information

If you’re wondering where to start when it comes to voting, here are some helpful links. These are great resources not only for the current federal election, but for future elections also.

Elections Canada

Elections Canada has all of the information you need for where to vote, how to vote, and who the candidates in your riding are.

Find their website here: elections.ca

Cork Yoga Mat

Vote Compass

Vote Compass is a questionnaire intended to help you discover what your political leanings might be. When I was first starting to vote, I was overwhelmed with all of the information out there and felt lost at where to even start digging into it.

The Vote Compass was an easy launching point for me because it helped me to stop and think about what I truly believed in and valued. It also helped me to see a snapshot of what the political parties were about. I still try and take the Vote Compass quiz every election to see if I’m still leaning towards a particular party or not.

Access Vote Compass here: Vote Compass website

Political Party Platforms and Websites

Once you’re comfortable digging in a little further to gather information and learn about each political party, checking out their websites is a great idea. If you’re passionate about a particular issue, such as climate change and the environment, you can see how the party speaks about these issues in their platform.

I think of a party’s platform as the legs they stand on and the values they will base their decisions on. Of course, nothing in politics ever goes as perfectly or smoothly as that, but it is a good way to gauge a party’s position.

Here are the links to political party websites where you can find their positions on climate change and the environment. I was not able to find a working direct link to a platform for the Green Party, so have a link to their general website.

Sometimes it is easier to have everything laid out in one place, so it’s also worth looking into Maclean’s 2021 Election Platform Guide.

Plastic Free July
Plastic Free July is one of many challenges to participate in

2. Social Challenges and Info Weeks

Since we’re challenging ourselves to find ways that our actions help the planet, why not join in on an actual challenge? Social challenges are out there in abundance along with other informative weeks and months of themed information.

Dig in and get social! Whether it is participating in a challenge with friends in person or meeting new friends online through the challenge, they are a great way to get involved and help create change. Challenges and info weeks are fantastic for learning more information, sharing information and getting others involved, and making informed changes in your life.

Here are some challenges and info weeks that are worth looking into:

Each year that I’ve participated in Plastic Free July, I find myself talking about plastic and climate change a lot more and with people I wouldn’t normally get to have those conversations with. I’ve noticed how it allows for me to talk about and demonstrate ways to change my dependence on plastic in a really accessible way for others. Challenges may help us in our personal lives, but they also have a ripple effect of creating change in others.

3. Giving Back

When thinking of giving, this can mean giving your time as a volunteer, giving finances to help a non-profit, or giving goods and services to support a cause.

How to Volunteer

Volunteering your time and skills can be invaluable to organizations and can help them reach their goals. Volunteering can be done in almost every sector, including environmental and climate focused areas. Giving your time to these organizations is a great way to take action to help the planet because it enables collective action for change.

Here are some ideas for finding a volunteer opportunity:

  • Look for organizations that fit with your values and passions.
  • Find something you will enjoy giving your time to.
  • Explore sites like Volunteer Connector to see what opportunities are out there.
  • Speak to friends and see if you can join them in their volunteering.

How to Give Financially

Non-profits and grass-roots organizations will often only survive with the help of donors. If you have the means to give financially, it can go a long way in supporting an initiative.

Sometimes it can be tricky to know what charities to give to, so here are some things to consider:

How to Give Goods and Services

Giving time and/or finances isn’t the only way to support your favourite causes. Giving goods or services can be just as helpful.

Here are some things to look into when giving items to a charity:

  • Check the charity’s website for a “wish list.” Many will list items they are currently looking for and use often.
  • Think about some of the items above, like finding organizations that fit your values and speaking to people that work or volunteer with the organization.
  • Are there free items that would be valued? For example, letters of encouragement were asked for by people putting together care packages for Fairy Creek Land Defenders. Sometimes the simplest things are helpful.
  • Contact an organization to see if your special skillset could be of use to them.

Benefits of Giving Back

Coming together with others to support a cause and reach a collective goal is not only great for the environment, but great for your own personal life too. I was chatting with mental health blogger, Kate, from Love My Anxious Brain about this as she works in the volunteer sector.

Here’s what she has to say about the benefits of volunteering:

I’m very lucky that every day at work, I see the mental health benefits of volunteering. A big part of my role is supervising and working alongside volunteers, and I’ve also previously volunteered myself.

The main mental health benefits I’ve seen and experienced are:

1. Social connections: Becoming part of a team and making friends.
2. A sense of purpose: Contributing to something important and feeling helpful and needed.
3. Confidence: Gaining new skills and challenging your anxiety.

It’s a great way to boost your mental health while helping others – I’d recommend it!

Kate, Love My Anxious Brain

Kate talks about volunteering and other ways to boost your mood in her Lockdown Loneliness post that’s definitely worth a read!

4. Social Media and Activism

How much time do you spend on social media? I spend quite a bit, if I’m honest, and a lot of that can become mindless scrolling. So one action you can take is to make your time on social media matter. That time can be used as one of your actions to help the planet.

Social Media Activism

Social media activism has its pros and cons, that’s for sure, but it has potential to make a huge impact. The ability to raise awareness for issues and to share information can multiply the impact of one voice exponentially.

Using social media for our planet, you can:

Participating in Protests

Online activism has its place, but so does physically getting out and taking a stand. In British Columbia, we’ve seen how effective protests can be in areas like Clayquot Sound where old growth forests were saved from logging and deforestation. We have a right to peacefully protest and have our voices heard.

Some places to look for opportunities:

Flowers in meadow showing benefits of actions for the planet
Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

Your Actions Help the Planet

There are always small things we can do to help our planet, like what we talk about in our 50 Actions for Earth Day post, but there are also larger ways your actions help the planet. Voting, volunteering and giving back, activism, and taking part in challenges are all ways you can increase the impact of your daily actions.

What ways do you take action to help the planet?

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14 Comments

  • Ellie

    Great post! These are all really important actions we can take to help the planet. I’ve started making a lot more sustainable decisions around my house but and we have regular volunteer beach cleanups here too, but thanks for opening my eyes to the other options too!

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Thanks Ellie! It’s so great to hear that you do beach cleanups. It’s such a great way to get active and save our oceans from all that garbage. Thank you for doing that! 🙂

  • Jaya Avendel

    There is a diverse list of ways we can make small or big actions, depending upon our circumstances and way of life, to help the planet. I love that you put voting here as an important way to have a say in who is elected. Having good people who represent, support, and practice eco-friendly ways of living helps to keep on spreading the change!
    Thanks for sharing some ways people can give back and continue to change their lifestyle practices. <3

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Thank you Jaya! I think it’s a beautiful thought that we each have a different offering/way to help the planet. Like you say, all of our situations are different, so we have something different to bring to the cause 🙂

  • Molly @ Transatlantic Notes

    Thank you so much for compiling this post with all the information and resources we need to do our bit — I am so glad you mentioned voting too as it’s high time we held our elected officials accountable. Nothing will impact climate action more than having policies that create to just and bold change.

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Thanks Molly! I think voting is so important and we’re really seeing how important in Canada right now. I’m anxiously awaiting to see who gets voted in next week as one of the main political parties plans to regress in our climate action plans.

  • Karalee

    This is a great post & I agree voting is so important & one day I hope to become a Danish citizen so I can actually vote here. In Denmark they recently banned single use plastic straws & cutlery, but even though it’s a step in the right direction you can for example go to the ice cream shop & buy a milkshake that will come in a plastic cup & lid then it has a paper straw…
    Also I’ve heard about some of the social challenges & info weeks like plastic free july & shark week, but I didn’t know September was Second Hand September!
    I would also like to find somewhere in Denmark I can volunteer

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      That’s a good point about the paper straw in the plastic cup. We have a recent single use plastic ban here and will likely be seeing that. It’s progress, but certainly more needs to be done!
      I hope you can find somewhere you enjoy to volunteer 🙂

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

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