The following is a guest blog written by local climate activist Jeanne Poirier. While SNCW is a non-political organization, we recognize that to make a difference, we need to utilize all routes to change. Over the past several years I have really enjoyed getting to know Jeanne and admire her passion for working toward solutions to the climate crisis. I hope you are inspired by her as I am. The list below will be helpful when you ask yourself, "but what can I do?"
By Jeanne Poirier
I marched down 82nd Ave., in Portland OR on the very first Earth Day (1970), but it wasn’t until after I read “The Weather Makers” by Tim Flannery (2005) I went nuts. Did what I could to create awareness, but living pretty remote made this hard - especially alone! Appreciated when Bob & Carolyn Bugert held a meeting for all concerned about climate change. Climate Conversations NCW was born! (Sept. 2014) CCNCW focussed mostly on education, speakers - and many members were not into marches or protests.
350Wenatchee was formed in Sept. 2017 out of CCNCW by those interested in being activists. We’ve spent some years in front of Chase, Wells Fargo banks - participated in community events and during COVID and now post COVID still do what we can! We’re part of 12 climate groups in Washington and the 350WA Civic Action Team. It feels exponential in power to be part of this work in our state.
My dear friend Sue Kane & I are both involved in this work and the Wenatchee Interfaith Climate Group. Honestly, at 68 now and still living pretty remote I prefer writing, organizing and believe 350Wenatchee could have a much bigger impact with someone at the helm who is savvy with social media, lives closer to town and has more energy for it!
The following needed to updated and recently I spent hours and days researching and putting this together. It is sorted by how often the organizations listed the same action, then if you have some money. Feel free to share it!
What can we do?!? Let’s count the ways
Get involved in politics - especially locally and VOTE!!!
Write, call, meet with your representatives
Find common ground so it doesn’t feel like fighting. It helps to use humor. Per Yale poll, fewer than 1/2 Americans feel any kind of social pressure from peers on climate. Talk about it, transform culture and mobilize at scale we need.
Don’t waste food!
1/3 of all food produced is lost/wasted. Store food correctly, freeze if you can & compost.
Eat less meat, your body and our planet will thank you!
60% of world’s agricultural land is used for livestock grazing
Choose organic, locally grown foods as much as possible
Can you grow your own?
Conserve water - make every drop count!
Be sure faucets are turned off and get leaks fixed.
Per World Wildlife Fund, by 2025 water shortage will be a problem experienced by 2/3 of the world’s population!
Turn off lights (ask - do I really need it on?)
Tweak the thermostat
Even 2 degrees up (A/C) or down (heat) can save energy & money
Unplug appliances when not using - computers, toasters, TV etc.
Walk, bike more - use public transit
If a car is unavoidable, plan trips/errands into single trip
Wash clothes in cold water - full loads
Dryers emit tons of C02 & plastic, cut the time with dryer balls
RECYCLE whatever you can, wherever you can, and do it right - no garbage
AVOID PLASTIC as much as you can! Only 5-10% of recycled plastic actually gets recycled. Dispose of it properly to keep it out of waterways. Re-use your mug/bottle.
WHERE IS YOUR MONEY?
If your bank funds fossil fuels, switch and let them know why!
READ - daily!
Learn legitimate news vs. propaganda by special interests. Gain feeling of greater control over climate crisis by learning more.
BE CREATIVE! Explore ideas/feelings about our changing world
Songs, music, writing, visual arts - put up a poster where you can
Volunteer for non-profit organization and/or help a neighbor
Be in nature - take a hike - simply enjoy and appreciate
“Fast fashion” industry accounts for 8-10% of global carbon emissions and endorses the throw-away culture. Buy fewer clothes and wear them longer. Repair loved clothes and donate gently used clothes vs. landfill.
Take care with personal care products
Aside from destruction of eco-systems & animal habitats, there are volatile chemicals in many shampoo and cleaning products.
If you can afford it, here’s some more
Switch out inefficient lightbulbs
Put solar panels on your roof
DECARBONIZE your assets!
Check your bank and other investments to be sure of what you’re supporting!
Buy an electric vehicle, E-Bike and all manner of electric power tools
Car share or park the car and walk/bike rest of way
Fly less - and if you must, avoid connecting flights and offset emissions
Weatherize your home for energy efficiency:
Insulate, seal up cracks, no gaps in windows/doors
Get a programmable thermostat
Buy energy efficient appliances
(EPA Energy Star products utilize up to 40% less energy)
Swap out furnace for heat pump (check out heat pump with mini splits)
Change your gas stove for electric
Shop local - buy sustainable
If shopping online, never pick one day expedited shipping
Native, pollinator friendly, drought resistant. Grow food. Trees - every year ~12 million hectares (29,652,646 acres or 46,333 square miles) of forests are destroyed
Just a little bit more . . .
Individual efforts only go so far. Feeling guilty about what we do, or don’t do is not productive and leads to paralysis. The pandemic made minimal dent in overall emissions. To solve climate change will require an overhaul of the global energy system, sweeping reforms of urban design, housing and healthcare.
In the US, the average person’s annual carbon emissions footprint is 16 tons - around four times more than a typical car and four times higher than the global average. To control catastrophic global warming, the global average per person needs to be closer to 2 tons.
Lead by example because peer pressure is a powerful tool. Putting solar panels on your house dramatically increases the likelihood more homes will install them. Doing climate actions will encourage your friends and family to do them too.
Ultimately the climate crisis is about inequality. People of color are disproportionately affected and more vulnerable to pollution from fossil fuel infrastructure, discriminated against in disaster aid. In the global south, impacts of disasters and failing agricultural systems fall hardest on women. It’s essential to recognize climate is at the heart of many of our social issues. No amount of solar panels or avoided hamburgers can negate the need to treat everyone with dignity and respect. To live on our planet which is already irreparably altered will require all of us to get better at listening to folks with different viewpoints, life experiences and practice compassion toward them. We’ll need to be open to bold, new ideas like climate reparations, re-evaluate how capitalism should work and how many people feel about big, expensive government interventions. We don’t get to return to some pre-carbon paradise - instead we’ll need to help each other live on the planet we’ve created and this is something we have the power to choose, every day.
* This list was compiled from David Suzuki, United Nations Environment Program, UC Davis, Blue & Green Tomorrow, COP 26 and excellent article from QUARTZ all dated between 2017-2021.