WORDS & IMAGE: KATE WEINER
I've spent the last three weeks in major on-the-road mode. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to bring Loam to Marin and Minneapolis as well as to meet with people who reinvigorate my passion for environmentalism and give me a good reason to be hopeful. I've had moments of overwhelm, too, of deep sadness at the urgency of the climate crisis and frustration at rising temperatures. I know, however, that this anxiety doesn't bring me closer to action. What does is rereading Joanna Macy's essay on working through environmental despair and returning to my conversation with Grace Oedel of Dig In Farm on embodying hope. Whenever I'm depressed, I try to focus on the now, on the family and friends and wild world that I deeply love. I remind myself of three things: the future is not a foregone conclusion, we never have to wait to take action, and hope is a practice.
We're neither powerless nor in absolute control. But there is good news out there and we are capable of creating more. A guiding principle of permaculture is the notion that one good step has unknown good benefits. Below, a guide to four good steps that you can take this very day to nurture climate consciousness.
NO MORE SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BOTTLES AND BAGS, PLEASE & THANK YOU
I recently spoke at a forum for college students on environmental activism. The organizer brought a boatload of plastic water bottles and a bevy of shrink-wrapped goodies to share. Her intentions were nothing but kind—she wanted to make sure our audience of cash-strapped students was well-fed. Of the many environmental issues we can mitigate, however, plastic bottles and bags are an easy fix. Just say not to plastic bags and bottles by bringing a reusable alternative wherever you go. And if you run into moments when it's inconvenient to do so, get over it. Making such a small sacrifice in service of a sustainable future is worth carrying a trash-light toolkit when on the move.
If you haven't already registered to vote, do so now. Not sure how? A quick Google Search will help you figure out the nuts and bolts in your state (you can register easily at the DMV, for example). And don't just wait to exercise your right to vote in the presidential elections—vote in every single election that you can. A lot of the big decisions about how we will effectively respond to climate change boil down to politics more so than science. We have to do everything in our power to ensure that we are building a government of people who give a damn.
That said, we don't need to wait for our government to get its shit together to start taking meaningful action. I'm perpetually inspired by movers and shakers from the likes of The Beehive Collective and Devi Lockwood of One Bike, One Year who are responding to the climate crisis through arts activism. Their educational initiatives help connect to diverse audiences throughout the world by making the intangible accessible, alive, and awesome.
Identify a cause that you are passionate about—maybe you want to mitigate food waste or promote public transportation or teach little kids to garden— and research local projects, programs, and people who are doing relevant work within your community. It's easy to feel despondent when we're doing nothing. A mentor of mine, Joan Gussow Dye, once told me in conversation that "I want to be on the side that tried." So try. Doing can be exhausting, sure. I've had moments when the fight can feel fruitless or frustrating. But it can also be electrifying and invigorating. It can also bring you closer to the core of this world. I have found that the more I actually do, the more I partner with people who care, the more I am able to find a sense of juiciness and joy in my activist work. I am starting to see change and this fills my heart with hope.
EAT LESS MEAT
Watching Cowspiracy changed my worldview. Meat consumption and factory farming is responsible for 3X more greenhouse emissions than transportation. That's huge. Eating less meat isn't always easy and talking about it is sure hard as hell—it's understandable that people don't want an aspect of themselves that is so deeply embroiled in cultural politics and personal preference to be attacked. That's why it's crucial that we approach our eating habits from a place of compassion. When we situate our consumption patterns in relationship to broader environmental issues, making the decision to eat less meat is obvious: the stakes are just so high. And it's never been easier to find support in embracing plant-based diet. Cook and eat and shop for groceries from a place of abundance rather than deprivation and you'll find that living with less meat is an excellent opportunity to truly feel nourished by the how, why, and what of food.
Help us grow our list! We want to hear from you about the steps you are taking today to help mitigate the climate crisis. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your thoughts in the comment section. Sending all our loamy love your way!