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.
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.
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.
- NDP Climate Action Plan
- Liberal Party’s Plans
- Conservative Party’s Plan to Fight Climate Change
- Green Party’s 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.
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:
- Sierra Club Week of Action for Forests (Happening September 7-12, 2021)
- Second Hand September (Happening each September)
- Organic September (Happening each September)
- Waste Reduction Week (Happening each October)
- World Vegan Month (Happening each November)
- Veganuary (Happening each January)
- Earth Day/Earth Month (Happening each April)
- Fashion Revolution Week (Happening each April)
- Shark Week (Happening each summer)
- 30 Days of Wild Nature Challenge (Happening each June)
- Plastic Free July (Happening each July)
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:
- Look for causes that inspire you to give.
- Speak to someone who has worked or volunteered for the organization to learn more.
- Check out non-profit reports, such as Maclean’s Charity Grades or Charity Intelligence’s Top Charities.
- Look for movements like the Fairy Creek Blockades that are less structured, but in need of funding.
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.Kate, Love My Anxious Brain
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 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:
- Raise awareness for issues.
- Amplify voices that need to be heard, such as these youth climate activists.
- Help bring attention to issues not being seen, such as how the media has been silenced when it comes to protecting old growth forests in British Columbia.
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:
- Fairy Creek Blockades – participate in helping to save British Columbia’s old growth forests.
- Extinction Rebellion – groups participating in non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience for the planet.
- Fridays for Future – participate in a school strike to fight for genuine, intersectional climate justice locally and globally. See also, Climate Strike Canada.
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?