So… there’s no comforting way to say this, but Earth, the planet we call home? Well… it’s in trouble. This isn’t shocking news, obviously. From all the bizarre and extreme weather to the collapse of an Antarctic ice shelf the size of Delaware, Mother Nature has made it pretty clear that things are not going well. A lot of us, of course, are trying to help. We recycle. We reduce and reuse. We drive electric cars, we swap out our incandescents for LED bulbs. We hope for the best.
But this Earth Day, every single one of us needs to step up our game. The stakes are too high. We can’t be content with doing what we’ve done before: we need to take our activism to the next level. Here are three ways you can make a really big impact on Earth Day.
Item number 1
Keep the pressure on politicians.
Politicians hear from their ultra-wealthy backers and bankrollers all the time. But whether it’s your mayor, your state senator, or your Congressperson, they need to hear from YOU.
However, since you probably aren’t bundling millions of dollars of donations for their super PAC, you may be wondering how to make them to listen. The best way, according to a former Congressional staffer? Get on the phone. But if calling isn’t your thing, there are other options. Show up at their office. Write letters. Join a massive climate march that fills the streets in Washington, DC, and other cities all over the world!
The key thing is to speak out. It works. Remember when the administration considered dramatically hiking fees at our national parks? Well, thanks to a huge outcry from the public, they’re reconsidering that plan now. That’s just one example. Keep the pressure on, and change will happen.
Item number 2
Vote—at the polls and with your wallet.
Don’t like your politicians’ stance on the environment? On climate change? Vote them out! Support leaders who care about helping the planet.
Here’s where we can see the true power of an intersectional approach to building movements. It might not seem so at first glance, but the health of our planet, voting rights, and getting the dough out of politics are directly connected. If people can’t get to the polls, then their voices aren’t heard. But thanks to unregulated big-time campaign cash, what the CEOs of oil companies, etc., have to say comes through loud and clear. So we need to fight to make voting easier for all citizens, even as we work to end the corrupting influence of money in politics.
Of course, voting isn’t limited to the ballot box. You can vote with your wallet too. Support companies that support the environment. Boycott companies that pollute or are mired in the old dirty-fuel economy. Politicians may listen to CEOs, but those CEOs will be out of a job if they don’t listen to you.
Item number 3
When it comes right down to it, all the change we want to see in the world starts with us. We need to educate ourselves about the issues, and then we have to start talking to our families, friends, and neighbors. Only then will we start to see true change happen… household by household, family by family, block by block, city by city.
Our friends at 350.org are doing great work to spread the word about climate change. Bill McKibben has a rare gift for organizing, rallying, and writing and he’s traveled the world from his home here in Vermont to help us all come together around facing this threat. The organizers behind the recent Pathway to Paris event in New York City use music and art to unite us all behind a vision for a cleaner, more sustainable world.
The Earth Needs Us — Now
Why now? Because the environment hasn’t been under this kind of threat since probably around 1970, the year the first Earth Day was celebrated. While there was no EPA back then, it’s barely functioning today. Rules meant to protect the environment have been weakened or rolled back. Science is under attack and scientists have been muzzled. Not only that, many in the Trump administration openly doubt the reality of climate change—which, we guess, must have made the president’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement much easier than it should have been.
All of which is why it feels a bit like 1970 all over again. But! There’s also a lot of cause for hope. The millions who filled the streets 48 years ago brought about major change. Thanks to them, we got the EPA. Thanks to them, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts were passed.
Today, people have again begun rallying to the cause. As dire as things sometimes seem, we believe that Earth Day 2018 is a huge opportunity. Change is possible, but we all need to work together to make it happen.