Beyond Consumer: Green Citizen Responsibilities

Just 4 days after UN declared code red for humanity in its IPCC report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported July 2021 as the Earth’s hottest month ever recorded in 142 years. Few days later, a new earthquake struck Haiti, while wildfires were spreading in California, Turkey, Europe and Algeria, and Germany was still recovering from a major flood. From my office chair, as I read the (bad) news, I track Fred storm on my phone, and notice more tropical storms approaching: Grace, Henri and Ida.

We got all the signs and facts, and it’s more evident every day: Mother nature is angry, hurt, out of control. 

There are plenty of good analyses to check. I particularly enjoyed listening to The Daily’s interview of reporter Henry Fountain. He wraps the interview with some positive thoughts and that’s my goal for today’s post (as always). 

We missed the window of opportunity and now we need to push further if we want a better future for our kids and grandkids. That could mean to stretch the changes you’re already working on, or maybe you feel the need for a bigger move, like a career change (as I did). Perhaps you’ll start raising awareness around you, educating your friends, family, neighbors, or peers on how to be more sustainable. Give them a few examples, of small and big ways to make an impact. It will be never perfect, but everything counts and can add up to significant change on a grander scale!

Exercise your Right to Vote.

Top-down policies are critical. It’s more important than ever to vote right. We cannot afford 4 more years of climate change denial.

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Take political action. Let your senators and representatives know you care.

Climate Changemakers do a great job monitoring bills and scheduling “hour of action” to catalyze government action. It’s simple, easy and won’t take too much of your time. Sierra Club is also an excellent resource to address national and state-wide issues, including a tool kit to reach out to elected officials.

Influence your team, your peers, your boss and the whole company.

Use your skills and your resume purposefully. Identify the intersections between climate action and your work: Where can you learn or evolve your work? What can your team do differently? And how are your leaders responding to or planning to respond to the impact of climate change on the business?

  • If your company doesn’t have a plan to cut emissions yet: raise your hand, start a discussion about it, call a sustainability professional, listen and try to understand and overcome the roadblocks.
  • If your company already has a plan in place: offer help, ask tough questions. Set the alarm for 2030. We need to move fast and stay in course.
  • How good is your company in storytelling? Are they using that skill for telling sustainability stories that stick? Any efforts to reduce printing or to educate employees on how to reduce waste? Did you know that eliminating individual trash cans can reduce trash contamination? Simple steps that count.
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Do more at home

Most people start their sustainability journey in their own household. That’s normal, that’s where we have more autonomy. You, most likely, are already taking some steps.

  • If you haven’t started making small changes at home: read some of our previous posts with ideas of simple swapskitchen-focused swaps, promoting a clothes swap at your home, the rationale behind going green, and cool ideas for a green holiday
  • If you’re already making efforts to reduce your carbon and plastic footprint at home: it’s time to do more.
    • Explore renewable energy options: many states offer the choice to switch to solar, for example, for a small fee. In Georgia we pay $1cent per kW, which increases our monthly bill in less than $1.00. It’s worth it! Moreover, it’s the way to put pressure on the system to add renewable energy capacity. Check out with your energy provider.
    • If you really need a car and can’t rely on public transportation or local sharing services: prioritize the switch to an electric vehicle (versus wait till the price comes down). Currently, 45 states provide an incentive for certain EVs and/or PHEVs.

Educate your community

  • Does your kids’ school (or future school) offer environmental education? Ask how you can help them to make more impact. What do they need to implement key sustainability actions into curricula? Maybe you can volunteer, or your company can partner with. If not in place, create an environmental or recycling committee, like I did, and start educating your community through recycling campaigns.
  • Got a favorite park or playground? Contact the neighborhood association, join a “clean up the park day” or create one! Don’t forget to make it meaningful, make the sustainability message permeate and give everyone’s this “feel good” sensation.

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