How To Take Action For Climate Change, There Is No Wrong Way!
This month we are featuring ways to celebrate and support our Mother Earth in honor of Earth Day. Individual actions are great ways to reduce your carbon footprint and start a larger conversation to educate others around you. When we can ignite a fire in others, we begin the momentum to a more significant systemic change.
To reach the steep goals of dramatically reducing greenhouse gasses by 2035 and being completely net-zero by 2050, we need mass systemic change. Sharing our ideas with our representatives and taking individual actions can influence new policies to help get us closer to our goals.
I want to share a few easy and more in-depth ways to contribute to the broad sweeping changes we all need to make. Individual actions are fantastic, and you should not stop finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint. However, each individual has only a tiny fraction of a percentage (I’m talking 0.0000000003%) of effect on the overall emissions, and if we are going to hit our goals in 14 years, we need everyone on board!
I know it sounds cliché cause everyone says it, but GET INVOLVED! First, decide on a topic or two that you would like to focus on. Picking your passion will make things much easier! We need to change nearly 12 billion things (exaggeration over here), and that can seem impossible for an individual because YOU alone cannot fix them all. If you choose one or two topics to focus on, then it all seems much more manageable.
As you all know, I have chosen the path of Zero Waste. My goal for our company and myself is to reduce the amount we contribute to the waste stream. We do that in many ways for our company, such as up-cycling furniture and accessories, reuse packaging we receive from our vendors to wrap and pack for each stage; we start conversations with our vendors about their packaging and how they can reduce. This year, our big goal is to fine-tune our processes and procedures to create greater efficiency, reducing our overall energy use, lowering our waste stream, and increasing our inventory’s longevity.
As an individual, I shop locally whenever possible and support package-free shopping experiences. My favorite for home products is Public Goods in West Seattle, don’t worry; they will be expanding to have a second location! For the items I can’t purchase package-free, I have aced the recycling and compost game with the help of companies such as Ridwell and Recology.
When the pandemic hit and the bulk section of the grocery store put in place a temporary ban on using your own containers, this was devastating as I had worked so hard to get to a Zero Waste system. I understand the temporary ban is for a very valid reason, so I had to adapt. When I was forced back into non-Zero Waste shopping, I realized that this is much bigger than just me, and we need to change the entire system. The “norm” needed a new form.
Before the pandemic, I joined a PCA group (People for Climate Action); I am part of the Burien chapter. PCA is a King County-wide environmental group that focuses on advancing climate action at the city level, with a county-wide collation backing. As a chapter, Burien PCA has talked to city council members individually, and we regularly speak at city council meetings. Our goal is to urge the council to keep the climate at the forefront of their every decision. Since I have joined Burien PCA, the city council has rolled out an ordinance that requires all food being packaged in the city (takeout, deli items, etc.) to be packaged with compostable containers. They have also started a Climate Advisory Board and have selected a few members from our PCA chapter to be on it! Change is painstakingly slow, but it’s happening, and we now have a seat at the table!
Another committee I have joined is more broadly focused at the county level. I have been appointed to the King County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC). We are the committee that advises the King County Council on how to best manage the county’s solid waste stream (i.e., garbage and recycle). I am a relatively new member; I was just appointed in December and officially confirmed in March, but I have a list of ideas I can’t wait to share, and I am excited to see what the other brilliant minds bring to the table. To give you a little background, in 2019, SWAC prepared and passed the Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan. This is a six-year plan that is up for review in 2024 and focuses on county-wide waste reduction while focusing on local level needs and protecting the environment and ratepayers at the same time.
These two groups are the more significant contribution I make and more locally focused. Other easy and undoubtedly effective ways to contribute are talking with your reps and weighing in on proposed bills at the state and federal levels. You can do this with a quick phone call, email, social media, or commenting directly on specific bills. Staying informed and speaking up will make a huge change, don’t stay silent!
For Earth Month, I challenge you to review your actions, give yourself a round of applause for what you are doing well, and find one thing to change up. Then take a look at some activist groups or calls to action (I have a few links below to help you get started) and take action, as big or small as you want! Get your ideas out there, start conversations, and get active!
Great tools I use to help guide me!
How To Save A Planet’s podcast Calls to Action Guide
This is also a great show to listen to when cooking dinner!
Keep tabs on your reps
Who are your reps? Find out here.
Comment on bills in session for WA State.
Upcoming bills that are being considered federally.
Fun ways to learn and get involved
The state’s ecology website has some activities.
At home and virtual activities here, I suggest rather than shopping for items, I challenge you to reuse items you have around the house!