Zero Waste & Climate Change Activism: How Individuals Can Incite Change
It can be frustrating when government and businesses have their heads in the sand and aren’t implementing policies and procedures to reduce waste and carbon emissions and it is easy to feel powerless. However, there are many things you can do beyond reducing your own waste that can help bring about sustainable change.
Is your government not managing your countries’ waste responsibly and not responding to the climate crisis? Is a business wasting resources without a care in the world? Are you feeling like you are too small to make a difference?
Here’s why your small actions do make a difference: when combined with the efforts of others who are as environmentally conscious as you are, these small actions become a movement and if we each awaken the environmentalist in one or two others or inspire one or two people to change their habits to be more sustainable, the flames will continue to spread.
And here’s how you can help inspire and encourage your country and community to be more eco-friendly and less wasteful:
1. Write to your local representative
Make sure your local councillor or member of parliament knows where you stand on environmental issues - let them know that you want them to declare a climate emergency and act accordingly, that you want them to educate the community to reduce their waste, and that you want them to provide services that allow the public to reduce and minimise the amount of waste sent to landfill.
You can also let them know that you don’t support certain projects, such as the Adani Coal Mine, and that you want certain schemes to go ahead, like the Cash for Containers Victoria.
2. Ask companies to change in person, over the phone, or via email or social media
Call out organisations that need to do better. Write to businesses that are trashing our planet and let them know you expect them to do better. You can email them or send them a message on social media. Let them know you will not be supporting them until they up their game.
Even more powerful, is striking up a conversation in real life, planting some seeds in an employee or manager’s mind or asking them how change for the better could be brought about and providing some suggestions that would benefit both the environment and their business.
Ask businesses to stop using single-use containers and to use reusable ones instead or to use more responsible packaging, to switch to renewable energy, or to work towards going carbon neutral.
Give them possible solutions and share the good that these solutions will do and how they will benefit the company as well as the planet, for instance switching to reusables will save a restaurant money as they won’t need to continuously pay for single-use containers.
If a business has done something you disagree with and that you think could be done better or something that they should not do at all, speak up. For instance, if you get junk mail from a company even though you have a ‘no junk mail’ sticker on your mailbox, send them an email or phone them and ask them to not place junk mail in letterboxes with these stickers.
4. Invest in green energy
The more that green energy is invested in, the more the price of green energy will come down and the more the business case for dirty fuels like coal will weaken. Buy solar panels or source your power from an electricity supplier that uses renewable energy and has a good sustainability rating.
Check if your local government has any green electricity schemes or rebates and make use of these.
By supporting the renewable energy sector, greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation are decreased, the sector’s growth is assisted, and awareness of renewable energy and greenhouse gases is bolstered.
4. Volunteer for or donate to organisations fighting for and doing work towards change
Help environmental organisations and community projects by volunteering your time or donating money they can put to good use.
Become a volunteer for a local community project to help change happen at a grass roots level in your community and/or donate to large-scale environmental organisations that are driving change in society.
You can also show support by joining protests held by groups fighting for environmental causes.
5. Invest in a sustainable future
Is your money funding fossil fuels? Find out if your bank and investments are funding fossil fuels and if so, let these companies know that you will move your funds elsewhere if they continue to do so and if they don’t listen, change banks and invest elsewhere.
6. Take the opportunity to have your say
When you are given the opportunity to have your say, for instance public consultation on a project that will affect the environment or on how your local council manages its waste, make the time to do it.
If enough of us do this and push a point, it will be noticed and it is more likely to be listened to.
Even if it’s just adding your name to a petition, do it. Show your support. It makes a difference. The more names the better!
7. Vote with your dollars
Don’t give businesses that don’t share your ethics and love for the earth your hard-earned money. Spend it at businesses that are doing their best to minimise their impact on the earth.
Support organisations that are environmentally and socially conscious and don’t support those that aren’t. Use your power as a consumer to force those that aren’t doing their bit to change.
8. Continue leading by example
Keep on inspiring others to reduce their waste and take better care of the environment by showing them how you do it and the benefits you are gaining by doing it.
The more we do things like using reusables instead of single-use containers, the more it will become the norm and more accepted by society and more people will do it!
We’ve got this!
Let us know in the comments how you help inspire and encourage change in your country and community!