From Powerless to Powerful

February 18, 2014

Small steps to solutions

Not long ago, I attended a climate change lecture given by a leading Canadian author and academic.  When he was asked what it would take to fix the challenges we face, he answered without hesitation: “Thousands in the streets.”

I’m guessing most Green Ideas subscribers are like me: concerned, not entirely sure about how we can make the biggest difference, uncomfortable with the prospect of being a so-called ‘activist’ – IE one of those thousands in the street – and unsure where to start.  If that sounds like you, here are a few online communities you might wish to check out:

  1. Avaaz, described as the world’s largest and most powerful online activist network.  Avaaz “empowers millions of people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues, from corruption and poverty to conflict and climate change.”
  2. Leadnow, “an independent advocacy organization that brings generations of Canadians together to achieve progress”.  Started by a few youths in 2011, Leadnow has grown to include 300,000 Canadians.  Its focus is on climate change and strengthening Canada’s democracy.
  3. PowerShift, a grassroots-driven online community to help young people organize, collaborate and “advance our vision of a clean, just and sustainable future.”  Young people in Atlantic Canada might want to check out PowerShift Atlantic, coming to Halifax March 28-31.

All three are proving that, even when it comes to mouse-clicks, there is great strength in numbers; and that making a difference on important issues need not be complicated, difficult or risky.  Please check them out, and join whichever fits your style!

Tips for a lower-impact winter vacation

At this time of year, many of us are planning breaks to warmer climates or mid-winter getaways.  If you’re traveling, here are a few ideas for lessening the impact of your holiday:

  1. Choose a Green hotel: look for certifications like Green Key or Green Leaf ratings (the more keys or leaves, the better); or other certifications like Green Globe, Audubon or National Geographic.  (Unfortunately, no global standard has yet emerged.)  And of course, participate in your hotel’s recycling / towel / linen / water reduction programs
  2. Travel light: air travel has a huge carbon footprint and more weight means more jet fuel burned and more emissions.  Consider buying sun block and toiletries at your destination, and why not use the hotel laundry so you can travel with fewer clothes?
  3. Where possible, use public transportation to get around – or rent the most fuel efficient vehicle available.
  4. Before you leave home, unplug electronics that use phantom power; lower your thermostat; and turn off your water heater.

More tips from the US EPA here.  Enjoy your Green holiday!