As more and more people have woken up to the climate emergency over the last few months, I’ve been asked time and time again “what’s the best thing I can do to help fight climate change?”.
In an attempt to help answer that question in the simplest possible way, I spent some time putting pen to paper, drawing out this decision tree in the lowest-tech way possible (on Earth Day, fittingly enough). I hope it’s helpful.
The first step is to calculate your ecological footprint. There are further resources for each of the answers below – please use and share. If you have any feedback or suggestions for other resources, please share in the comments below.
Skip to the relevant section:
- MAKE A PLEDGE
- CAREER WITH IMPACT
- LEAD THE CHANGE
- GET BACK TO WORK
- FUTURE PROOF YOUR BUSINESS
- DESIGN FOR GOOD
- POWER OF POLITICS
- MOVE YOUR MONEY
MAKE A PLEDGE:
Intro: Yes, governments and businesses need to take action on climate change – but so do we, the people. According to Defra, 42% of the UK’s carbon emissions are the result of individual’s actions, at home and in personal travel. So we have the opportunity to make a big difference – today.
By reducing your own impact and getting your own house in order, you’ll also be better placed to drive deeper change at a higher level with, whether within businesses or governments.
Use the outcome of the footprint calculator to guide you on where you can make the biggest savings, then make a pledge for more support and advice on your chosen actions.
Resources: Focus on the biggest impact actions, which tend to be:
- Carefree and car-free – leave the car at home and get On yer bike, Walk on, or Go public.
- Get grounded – avoid flying wherever you can. Either use video calling, stay local, combine trips so you’re using your air miles more efficiently, or travel by land.
- Clean your bills – switch to a renewable energy provider. It’s super simple.
- Veg out – make meat a treat.
- Have fewer children. Yep, it’s a tricky one to bring up, but as the chart below shows, it’s a real big hitter.
CAREER WITH IMPACT:
Intro: We spend so 80,000 hours of our lives working – so it’s probably through our jobs that we can have the biggest impact. Imagine what difference you could make with 80,000 hours!
A career with impact can be hugely rewarding, and the opportunities are booming – no matter what industry you’re in.
- 80,000 hours is an amazing resource on understanding and finding a career with impact
- Escape the City: advice and training for changing careers
- On Purpose: a fantastic course for people wanting to transition from the corporate world into a career with purpose
- Work for a B Corp: search the B Corp job listings
- Realchangers job posts in impact driven startups
- Make Tomorrow online micro courses about climate change for career changers, coming Summer 2019
- Join us! We’re recruiting for a part time, remote customer support and content manager
LEAD THE CHANGE:
Intro: Biggest impact you can have is through influencing those around you to step up and take action. It’s going to take effort from everyone to solve this mighty challenge, yet most people haven’t started on the journey yet. It’s widely known that people are most influenced by those close to them – so use your influence to inspire your friends and family to start their own sustainability journey.
- Talk. Start conversations about climate change, ask questions about what your business is – or should – be doing. Show the business leaders that there’s interest and appetite for action.
- Do Nation: run a pledge campaign on Do Nation to encourage people around you to take practical actions in their own lives. It’s a pretty effective way to start conversations too.
- In your workplace: through our fun and simple pledge platform, we have helped 100’s of organisations to engage their employees in sustainability – from Pukka Herbs and innocent drinks to Siemens and Network Rail. Find out more here.
- In your community: run a personal pledge campaign, asking friends and family to make pledges to support you. Whether it’s in support of a marathon or a birthday, or just because – our platform makes asking people to eat vegetarian more often, drive a little less, or recycle more a lot less awkward. Find out more here.
- Develop skills to help you lead more ambitious climate action, and talk more confidently about the issues:
- Climate Reality Leadership Programme run a series of courses around the world, although most are US focused.
- 2050 Young Leaders Development Programme (YLDP) is a fantastic option for young(ish) people in Scotland.
- Make Tomorrow will be launching online micro courses about climate change for various sectors in Summer 2019.
GET BACK TO WORK!
Intro: You’re already fighting the good fight – so keep at it! But fight hard, as we all need to up our game. If we are just making things less bad, we’re might actually be doing more harm than good by enabling complacency. So be radical. Aim high. Demand change, and fast.
- Need motivation and a reminder why you do what you’re doing? Read Deep Adaptation. Be warned, it’s stark reading.
- Be driven by Science based targets.
FUTURE PROOF YOUR BUSINESS:
Intro: Instead of sitting back and waiting for your industry to be disrupted by climate change, lead the change – see how your business can be part of the solution. It’ll be a lot easier for some than for others, but to win this battle we need to see radical transitions across industries – so don’t shy away from it.
- Complete a B Corp assessment to understand how your businesses’ impact fares. You might even want to certify and join the community of people using business as a force for good – I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
- Apply for the Forward Institute’s Fellowship Programme, or encourage a colleague to join.
- Read Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth.
DESIGN FOR GOOD:
Intro: From improving supply chain efficiency to designing for a circular economy, via designing more durable, lasting products: if you have any influence over product or service design, you could have a huge impact by looking at your work through the lens of sustainable design.
- Ellen MacArthur Foundation is one the leading resources for circular design
- Wrap’s guide to embedding environmental sustainability into product design.
POWER OF POLITICS:
Intro: No matter which result you got, most of us are lucky enough to be citizens of a democracy. Use that privilege to push for change.
- Wherever you live, register to vote. In the UK, you can do that here.
- Write to your MP and demand they push for government action on climate change.
- Support Extinction Rebellion – even if you’re not willing to get arrested or join the protests, you can help to support the movement.
MOVE YOUR MONEY:
Intro: If you have any money in a pension, bank account, insurance, or any other form of investments, use it to fund a good future – for you and for the planet.
- EQ Investor’s Good Guide to Impact Investing
- Share Action’s ratings of insurers and public pension funds
- Good With Money’s directory of the most sustainable financial products out there
I hope that’s been useful. If you have any suggestions of additional resources, please share below. And if this has helped you to make any changes in your life, please do let us know.
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[…] Here’s a handy – very low-tech – tool I sketched earlier in the year to help people in that situation to find their climate impact. […]