Updated: Apr 2
Our lives have drastically changed over the last few weeks, as we adapt to new ways of living, working and educating from home. Yet we also have the opportunity to take some time to reflect on our lives and to consider our lifestyle choices. Despite being confined to our homes, there are still actions we can take to help promote and develop sustainable living practices.
What Is Activism?
You may be passionate about climate change and even be trying to live a sustainable lifestyle, but perhaps feel uncomfortable with the concept of activism. Activism is defined as “the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.”
You may feel that public campaigning isn’t the right course of action for you, but you still want to do your part and be involved in helping to drive change. In ‘The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide’, Jen Gale suggests that we can all take part in what she terms activism(ish), “doing what we can, when we can, to raise awareness not just about the problem, but about the solutions too (and to make all those small but important changes!)”.
In the book, Gale proposes a whole array of actions we can all take to help create real change; from small individual acts, to taking part in larger initiatives, campaigns and even climate strikes. Ultimately, however, Gale emphasises the importance of us all doing our part, collectively as individuals, to bring about real change.
Everyday Actions We Can Take Right Now
Some of the simplest acts of activism you can take can be done right now, without even needing to leave your home.
In order to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, we should all be aiming to buy less. This is a particularly important point with regards to clothing and disposable goods. With the ease and ready availability of online shopping, it becomes even easier to simply purchase new goods without overthinking or questioning ourselves.
Instead, as Jen Gale suggests, we can aspire to become an “everyday radical” by:
· Reusing products and repurposing them;
· Mending clothes instead of buying new ones;
· Questioning – question yourself, your motivations and the status quo. Do you need that new item? Did you want it previously or were you influenced by an advert?
There are those who suggest that social media and online activism isn’t sufficient because real activism requires real action and campaigning. However, it is a starting point. At times like these when we are unable to physically interact with others in protest or strike, action online can at least keep the conversation alive and provoke others into action, or at the very least, encourage people to pause and engage with the discourse.
It’s also a good way for those who maybe want to be more involved, but are unable to do so for financial or physical means, to take action and apply pressure to companies and brands. If you can’t afford to shop elsewhere or take time off work to join in a protest, you can still play a part and help to bring awareness to the causes you are passionate about.
So, what types of action could you take online or on social media?
· You could sign petitions;
· You could join organisations, such as Earth Day Network, Youth Climate Strike, Extinction Rebellion and Mothers Rise Up, to name a few;
· You can contact companies, brands or retailers and explain your feelings to them or make a complaint, being mindful to be polite when you do so;
· Share pictures on social media – anything from excessively packaged food and other products, to items of rubbish and litter that you may have found in the street or on a beach. You can tag the supermarket/company/brand for even greater impact;
· Make a donation – in future, you may want to volunteer and donate your time, skills or expertise to a group or campaign of your choice. Of course, there is always the option to donate funds to a campaign, especially as many environmental campaigns rely on donations to fund them.
This week we invite you to take a small, virtual step towards activism(ish). Explore a new initiative, campaign or group you would like to find out more about. Find out about their work and share it with friends and family online.
You might want to start a conversation on social media about sustainable living and activism. See if there are any existing groups you can join and virtually ‘meet’ new, like-minded (or not!) individuals. Alternatively, start a conversation yourself. Share ideas and small acts of daily activism that you may be taking and help to inspire and be inspired by others.
Being confined to our homes and engaging in physical distancing doesn’t mean we have to disconnect from society altogether. Instead, let’s try to use the wealth of digital resources at our disposal to educate and inspire ourselves, our friends and family and meet new people along our journey.
Stuck on where to get started? Here are some groups/websites to inspire you:
· City To Sea (www.citytosea.org.uk)
· Earth Day Network (www.earthday.org)
· Extinction Rebellion (www.rebellion.earth)
· Fashion Revolution (www.fashionrevolution.org)
· Mothers Rise Up (www.mothersriseup.org.uk)
· Youth Strike For Climate (www.ukscn.org)
Alternatively, why not take a look at Jen Gale’s ‘The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide: Everything you need to know to make small changes that make a big difference’, for inspiration. It is available to buy online from a range of retailers.