What can I do?
“What can I do to help Dear Earth?” This has become my central question since waking up to the climate & ecological emergency – my own answers have taken time to emerge. Here are a few suggestions, which are also designed to accompany my free e-course.
Grounding. It can be difficult to encounter the size of the task without falling into despair or overwhelm. As you begin to make changes in your life, practice gratitude for what you are already receiving, and get some steady ground underneath you. Start a Daily Pause for Dear Earth – for example a meditation practice, a ritual for Earth, writing a short creative piece every day etc. Find ways of connecting with the beauty of our Earth – walking, gardening, volunteering, exploring. Get the support of a local group or a friend who understands, or who is willing to listen. Strengthen your spiritual practice, or find one. Keep returning to gratitude.
Truth-seeking. Knowledge is power. Begin (or continue) to educate yourself about the situation we’re currently in. Look at the list of resources below and choose a couple to investigate. Read articles online. Talk to those who’ve done their research. Make sure you understand how individual change needs to be paired with huge systemic change, and that we can’t make that happen alone. Allow the facts to sink slowly from your head into your heart. Share this information with others whenever you can, as skilfully as you can (listen first, then offer your experience/facts if asked).
Grieving. Accept any feelings that arise from your research. Grief and other feelings are welcome, they are the fuel for change. It can also be tough to feel them. Get support – from your local Extinction Rebellion group, online, from friends who get it etc. Trust that the process will take time, and may involve periods of sadness, overwhelm, anger, disappointment, frustration, hopelessness and denial. Lean into the Earth. Revisit grounding whenever you need to. Begin to forgive yourself and to forgive others.
Growing. Begin to think about how you’d like to use the fuel of your grief. Make small (or big!) individual changes – eat less meat/eggs/dairy, fly less, buy less, use the car less, use less plastic. Talk about your experience with your friends and family. Join with others to cause system change (this is much more important than individual change) – support Extinction Rebellion in whatever way you feel called to, join green charity or political groups, join or initiate actions, make art, write letters. Here are some more suggestions & please send me your own to add to the list.
Know that whatever happens, these things are good to do. Will we be able to prevent the collapse of our civilisation, or is it too late? Different commentators have different opinions about this and, scary though it is to contemplate, it is possible that things will get worse and worse. Even if we do make big changes, the locked in effects of our previous pollution/CO2 will still cause a further worsening of the situation. If this is the case, how do we want to prepare for this? Personally, I would want to be doing exactly the same things – strengthening our communities, educating ourselves about how to live more kindly, encouraging others to change, and living as lightly on the Earth as we can (whilst enjoying everything she has to offer us now). Here’s an article about a city who are already preparing for the worst, and having an amazing time in the process.
Keep going. Helping our dear Earth will be a difficult and long term project, and so it is crucial that you keep yourself fit and well for the longer term. Keep tuning in to how you’re doing, and don’t go too fast or burn yourself out. Do sensible things like eating well, exercising, resting well, and taking time out every so often to recharge. Keep connecting with nature more directly whenever you can – gardening, walking, volunteering etc. Keep connecting with gratitude. Keep making space for the feelings as they arise. Keep appreciating beauty. Keep enjoying life as much as you can.
Below are a few of the resources that have been helpful to me. If you want to recommend something to add to this list, do let me know.
When beginning to learn about our current situation I’d suggest that you begin where I did, with this half hour video. You might prefer reading, or you can read the reports straight from the IPCC. Many of the books on this list (or others like them) will do the same job.
How to Save Our Planet by David Attenborough (8m27s)
If we don’t protect nature we can’t protect ourselves by Harrison Ford (5m34s)
Time to Act Now by Roger Hallam (Extinction Rebellion) (1hr26m)
The Sea is Rising and so are we (Extinction Rebellion) (2m9s)
No-one is too small to make a difference – Greta Thunberg
This is Not a Drill – an Extinction Rebellion Handbook
On Fire: The Burning Case for a New Green Deal – Naomi Klein
Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy – Joanna Macy
Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis – David R. Loy
Learning to Die: Wisdom in the Age of Climate Crisis – Robert Bringhurst and Jan Zwicky
Groups & Organisations
Eating less meat & dairy will definitely help the environment, your health & (last but most importantly) the animals. Try Veganuary, The Vegan Society etc or buy a lovely cookbook – Bosh, Minimalist Baker etc.
A few general articles about living more lightly on the earth
Here’s my evolving list of practical suggestions for things you can do if you’d like some inspiration 🙂