6. Individual Actions

KNOW HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Why are people reducing their emissions in the first place?  

  1. Less fossil fuel has meant more connection with the land, with food, with family and friends, and with community.
  2. By moving away from fossil fuel, I’m aligning my actions with my principles.
  3. I believe personal reduction does help, indirectly, by shifting the culture…by changing ourselves, we help others envision change. We gradually shift cultural norms.

From BEING THE CHANGE by Peter Kalmus

“The essential story I’m telling is that life can be better without fossil fuel. I’ve experienced this to be true; if others also experience this to be true, who’s to say the story won’t develop a powerful, change-making response?”

From BEING THE CHANGE by Peter Kalmus

“The more we align our individual choices with the world we want — it doesn’t change the world, but it changes us. We become more convincing to ourselves. We feel less a victim. The solar panels on my house, the clothes out on the line instead of in the dryer, eating low on the food chain, taking the bus to work — it makes me feel less powerless and more energized. Individually, of course we can’t make large-scale changes. But our individual choices are helpful to the extent that we can show possibilities and feel more committed.”

Francis Moore Lappe

EMPOWER YOURSELF & INSPIRE OTHERS

INDIVIUAL ACTIONS:

  • Global change is required… individual action calls attention to the crisis.
  • By adopting sustainable lifestyle habits, you can influence others to make similar changes.
  • Being an early adopter inspires others to act and reflects the urgency of the climate crisis.
  • You have more credibility when you walk your talk. It’s not always easy to make changes before most everyone else, but it’s critical to show people it can be done… and might actually lead to a more rewarding life!

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Vote:

  • Pre-register to vote & vote when you’re 18
  • Work to get out the vote
  • Volunteer for pro-climate political campaigns
  • Club Goal: register people to vote at your high school or in community

Zero Waste Habits:

  • Buy less stuff!
  • De-clutter
  • Avoid single use plastics
  • Buy in bulk
  • Make your own
  • Shop with reusable bags

Your Food Choices:

  • Eat a more plant-based diet
  • Plant a home garden
  • Participate in school garden
  • Start a compost bin at your house
  • Establish compost system at your school
  • Help manage the compost bin
Environmental Working Group, Figure 1. Full Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Common Proteins and Vegetables, Meat Eater’s Guide: Report, https://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/a-meat-eaters-guide-to-climate-change-health-what-you-eat-matters/climate-and-environmental-impacts/.

… Be a Conscious Consumer

YOUR TRANSPORTATION CHOICES

Pledge to:

  • Walk, if under ____ miles (2-3 miles=avg.)
  • Ride a bike, if under ___miles (5-10 miles)
  • Take public transit vs. driving/riding in a car
  • Make sure any cars you buy are as fuel efficient as possible (electric or hybrid)
  • Consider going car-free (What choices would make that easier?)
  • Maybe pick a college closer to home or opt for train or car travel instead of planes

YOUR CONSUMER HABITS

How you spend money is your vote:

  • Side-step our ever-increasing consumer life-style: Buy less stuff!
  • Instead of buying new, buy used
  • Better yet, repair something instead of buying a replacement
  • Gifts: think about what you purchase; request used or climate-friendly gifts
  • Instead of stuff, give and ask for donations or experiences as gifts
  • Make a budget for purchases and stick to it

YOUR CLOTHING PURCHASES

Avoid buying new clothes:

  • Shop at thrift stores and second-hand
  • Mend your favorites
  • Organize a ”Clothing Swap”
  • Watch the documentary about fast fashion: “The True Cost”

Your voice, habits, choices, and purchases, ALL make a difference!

EXPLORE HIGH IMPACT PERSONAL ACTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

HIGH IMPACT:

  • Vote! (for climate-friendly candidates)
  • Go car-free (walk, bike, bus)
  • Avoid taking long flights (avoid flying, whenever possible)
  • Choose higher levels of renewable energy (if choice)
  • Switch to electric vehicle or hybrid (if you have the choice)
  • Eat for climate-stable planet: Eat fewer animal products,
    choose local, don’t waste
  • Conserve energy & water

MODERATE IMPACT:

  • Step out of consumerism lifestyle
  • Wash clothes in cold water
  • Recycle
  • Hang clothes to dry

LOWER IMPACT:

  • Replace light bulbs to LED

SOURCE:2017 Study from Lund University: Impact of Personal Actions

Pro Tip:

Suspend judgment.
There’s no “one-size-fits-all”  solution. Do what you can do. Be an example. Allow others to go at their own pace.

Activity #6A:
Be the Change

Meet: Katelynn Sutton
High Tech High School, San Diego

HOT TIP:

“When taking individual action, strive for progress and not perfection. Whether you are beginning your eco-friendly journey with reusable produce bags or becoming vegetarian, you should be proud of your initiative. But don’t be afraid to keep growing from there!”

Katelynn is a secondhand enthusiast, low-waste vegan and SD 350’s youth intern.

Along with her individual actions, she has helped plan a youth climate action summit and a summer program for teens.

Highlights: Exploring different avenues of environmental activism: from planning a summit to becoming vegan to speaking to the press, Katelynn doesn’t limit change-making to just one avenue. 

Quick Guide #6

  • STAR “LOW-HANGING FRUIT”

    Which items would be easiest for you to adopt?

  • WHICH FAMILY STRATEGIES APPEAL TO YOU?

    How can you make it easier for your family to adopt? Examples:
    Manage the compost bin
    Tell people you’d like to go to a movie instead of receiving a gift
    Figure out how to really turn off all of your home electronics and appliances
    Help with the recycling
    Many strategies save money (appealing to adults)

  • SUSPEND JUDGEMENT

    Let others make their own choices. Do what’s best for you. Berating others won’t get them to change. Accept where they are. Lead by example.

  • ”REFUSE” IS MOST IMPORTANT OF THE 5 Rs:

    Refuse, reduce, re-use, recycle, rot.

  • CONFRONT YOUR FOOTPRINT

    Quantify how much you use in various categories and how they affect your footprint: Food, energy, water use, transit choices.

  • EXPERIMENT

    Try out an individual action: see if it works for you. List your successes. Where could you use support? Use your club as a sounding board for ideas.

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