Beyond Zero-Waste Efforts

I’ve been thinking about how I can work to prevent climate change on a larger scale. As someone with a full-time job, two children and is back in school for a mid-life career switch, my minutes are precious. I’m sure yours are too. I make a lot of my small swaps and speak up when possible (the other day, I mentioned composting to a fourth grade classroom) but what else? Sometimes I feel burnt out and wonder if my efforts are insufficient. What would happen if I went back to some old ways? Would it really matter?

My friend’s husband said none of our zero-waste swaps will positively affect climate change if billionaires excessively fly their private planes and society continues to rely on fossil fuels. (Yes, the fossil fuel tide is changing but will the effects arrive quickly enough?) The comment both frustrated and inspired me. Will true change happen through small grassroots and individual efforts? To some degree, yes, but we must also influence the larger infrastructure. Yet what can we do if short on time? Here are some things I am going to focus on over the next few months.

Support candidates whose campaign goals align with my environmental values. While larger races, like Presidential and Senate campaigns, are important, local town politicians have a lot of power as well. Concord is holding a City Council race this fall and a friend wrote to us about the candidates. She is concerned that one is more environmentally focused than the other, and the opponent will stop forward thinking programs aimed at preventing climate change. Though small, these races are important and can have big consequences on our town! More on this topic in the next few weeks!

Further educate myself on the topics through reading the news and keeping abreast of current events. That way I can have an informed and persuasive conversation with climate deniers or people who don’t know why or where to start. Truth told, at the end of the day, I don’t have a lot of mental energy for serious reading and often fall asleep by 9pm. (The life of an educator…) But I want to get better. On the radio, I’ve heard talk about the new climate change bill that Democrats are trying to move through Congress. This bill has the capacity to be the larger climate change piece of legislation thus far. That’s huge! But what is it and what does it mean for me? Here’s some information: Congress Is Debating Its Biggest Climate Change Bill Ever. Here’s What’s At Stake.

Participate how and when possible. This suggestion is a tricky one because, as mentioned above, time is currently a hot commodity for me. There were worldwide climate strikes last week, and though I would’ve wanted to attend, work got in the way. So what to do? Publicize and promote these events to people who have more flexible schedules – for me, I shared them on the GreenLifeNH instagram page – and then work to find ones that work for you. Maybe set a goal. I’d like to attend one every six months or so. That feels do-able to me. Find what feels do-able for you.

A weekly Farmer’s Market haul

Teach your children well. I think this saying can apply to any youngsters in your life and not just your actual kids (if you have them). I have been annoying my children with age-appropriate nagging about treating the Earth well for years. They already know about composting, using cloth rags, reusing etc, and while I think they find it annoying, I guess some of it is seeping into their consciousness. Today my daughter came home and told me that, although she wanted the school lunch, she skipped it because she didn’t want to waste the food I had packed for her. “I’m not zero-waste, mom,” she said with a smile. I was so proud! She is in elementary school so I was super impressed that she even considered this issue. I certainly didn’t at that age! Food waste is a huge climate change contributor via landfills. If everyone reduced their food waste, we’d make a huge impact!

Belknap Fire Tower. Really fun hike for kids!

At the least, donate. Find a conservation movement that’s important to you and support when possible. It doesn’t need to be a lot. I often just send $25 or so. Small amounts add up! I get especially upset when I see land cleared for commercial purposes, so I’ve started donating to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. It makes me feel a little better knowing that, while I personally can’t stop deforestation, I am helping those who can.

Have anything else to add? Tell us below! We are always looking for more ideas! – Rachel

PS Political cartoons borrowed from The New Yorker

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