Help me become the best environmental activist I can be.
February 2, 2017 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Having read many blog posts and articles encouraging me to focus on one issue that matters most to me during this time of political horror, I've decided to put my energy into protecting the environment. What is the best way to do that?

Here's what I'm doing already:

-Belonging/donating to my statewide chapter of the Sierra Club.
-Calling my elected officials about climate change/DAPL/fracking/etc.
-Planning to go to the big Climate March on April 29
-Seriously revamping the environmental impact of my own household (less waste, more plant-based meals, etc.)

What other actions would have a significant impact without burning me out (I work and parent full-time, and my mental health is seriously seriously not good)? I'm thinking of volunteering at my local forest preserve, but that feels self-indulgent... like, I love my walking paths, but no one is actually coming to take them away.
posted by missrachael to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Go vegan and support local farmers.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:00 AM on February 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

(I should have said I'm also rejoining a CSA after many years of lazy grocery shopping. I'll stop thread sitting now.)
posted by missrachael at 9:09 AM on February 2, 2017

Especially if you're interested in the connection between food and the environment, watch Cowspiracy and, if it speaks to you, tell your friends. (I think it's still on Netflix.)
posted by FencingGal at 10:55 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

One thing I've been doing is sharing climate news with people who are open to it but who otherwise wouldn't seek it out. Like, progressive friends who don't tend to count environmentalism among their pet concerns, and family members who believe in climate change but think "nothing bad is going to happen for another 100 years." I'm trying to do this in a very low level, non-annoying/in your face way. Like bringing it up in discussion from time to time or forwarding an article once every couple of months. I'm just trying to get it on everyone's radar. I have no idea if this is effective or not.

There have also been some good threads about this in the past, but I can't find them now. This one might be helpful: It's more focused on the asker's frame of mind, but also some good general tips.
posted by whistle pig at 10:59 AM on February 2, 2017

I think the major environmental problem facing the world is climate change, and am resolving a similar personal dilemma (how to help without going nuts?) by joining Citizens' Climate Lobby. We're working towards a single, clear objective (passing federal carbon fee-and-dividend legislation) that's widely recognized as having the potential to actually facilitate the necessary switch to renewables.

Optimizing your own household's energy usage, consumption of local foods, etc. isn't futile, but it can't have the same impact--of course it's frustrating. It's like brushing cats at an animal shelter (vs. also supporting spay/neuter initiatives). We're simply not going to make the necessary big changes via voluntary, effortful contributions from concerned citizens. But people (and companies) WILL change their behavior in response to financial incentives, and they WILL support those incentives if they know they can avert catastrophic climate change without undertaking a financial burden.

But, a caveat: I think it's completely okay to focus on one issue by doing any ONE of the things you are currently doing or considering: e.g., giving money to the Sierra Club, working on your own household's environmental impact, volunteering at a local forest preserve. It's okay to help in the way that is right for YOU, even if that isn't the Very Most Efficient Path--in the same way that there isn't a single most important job that everyone should do. The only change you really need to make is the part where you spend time feeling guilty about not doing all the things while working, parenting, and dealing with your mental health.
posted by cogitron at 12:21 PM on February 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

What the environment really needs is a smaller, better educated and less war like populace. Supporting women's rights helps with that, it's been shown over and over. Microloans, birth control etc.

This is in addition for pursuing legal protections which of course are the best short term solution.

Socially normalizing good stewardship is important. When I was a child people littered like crazy in my rural home area and now it's very looked down on.
posted by fshgrl at 1:31 PM on February 2, 2017

Join an Indivisible group now to have an immediate impact.
posted by metajim at 4:53 PM on February 2, 2017

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