“But what can I DO?”

We hear you. Extreme weather events related to climate change are affecting all of us—and we want to take action.

Climate advocacy has two parallel prongs: individual action and collective action. Both are important, and both are absolutely necessary. As individuals, we need to examine our own habits, and see what we can do to minimize our footprints. Every little bit matters.

But that’s not enough. The scale of the challenge ahead of us requires system change—and none of us can do that on our own. That’s where we need to unite our voices on the ground and pressure our leaders to make the larger shifts that are out of our hands.

First: individual actions. It’s a good time to spend a few minutes thinking about what we can do as we start planning for the holiday season. Our Transition Kamloops team has prepared a smorgasbord of actions, big and small for you to think about. Pick and mix, let us know what works for you, and share your own suggestions in the comments.

  1. Talk about it as an individual. Talk about your feelings about climate change with your family, your friends, your work colleagues, your financial advisor, and with the owners of the places you shop. The time has come where we can no longer avoid difficult conversations—we need to be more open about our support for stronger climate action. Think gentle, respectful, but determined.
  2. Buy less. Ask yourself: Do I really need this? Will I use it enough times to make it worth the energy and resources that went into making it? Will my life be any worse if I don’t buy it? Reduced demand = reduced production = reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Look for used or second-hand options. Thrift stores are overflowing, and the hunt for a special item can be far more satisfying than just buying a new one.
  4. Buy local. There’s a lovely Kweseltken Kristmas Market happening this Sunday. On both the North Shore and downtown, there are shops that specialize in beautiful local products—think outside the box stores!
  5. Give experiences, not things. We all have too much stuff. Gift certificates to locally-owned restaurants that support local food producers are a joy to give and receive! Many of these have been hit hard by the pandemic, and could appreciate the support. There are a slew of other “experience” options available in our community—why not share your favourites in the comments under this article?
  6. Look for gifts “do good”. Items that support marginalized communities, either locally or abroad through fair trade practices, are one option. Consider books that tell the stories of Indigenous Peoples, or how-to’s for living more sustainably.
  7. Wrap gifts sustainably. Buy them in reusable bags you bring from home
  8. Eat local. Why not set aside a bit of time this week to plan truly local feasts for this season, using food grown in our area? By showing that there is demand, our local producers can have the confidence to expand.
  9. Take the kids out—on the bus! Kids under 11 travel for free, and they will love it! Check the schedule for your area, plan a route, and make a fun outing of it with your littles. Transit literacy is good for all of us, and our kids should feel comfortable taking the bus on their own when they are old enough.
  10. Clean up the holiday mess properly! Take a bit of extra time to sort through the packaging and ensure each piece goes to the proper waste or recycling stream. Not sure if something is recyclable? Download the City’s awesome “Waste Wise Kamloops”app onto your smartphone, and search the huge database for very specific items you’re not sure about.

Next, the collection actions.

  1. Use your voice as a citizen. Our political leaders need to know that voters are behind them when they are considering bolder actions. Send letters to Council, to our MLAs, and to the federal government ministries, asking for faster adoption of climate goals. Sign petitions, phone into radio shows, write Letters to the Editor—ensure that your perspective is understood by our leaders, so that they can show the courage we need from them.
  2. Show up. Attend the City’s budget meetings (first one Mon Nov 22). This is where our Council and staff check the wind to see what citizens are willing to have them do (and what we’re willing to pay for). If we want something more than mild tinkering, we need to speak up. If you’re nervous, bring a friend or two. Last time, they had doughnuts!
  3. Donate to organizations that advocate for climate action. Not all of us are experts, but we can support the experts and the folks who do climate advocacy as a day job. The more support we give, the more powerful they become.

Thanks for reading to the end. Remember that this is not a checklist, and you can’t do it all. Just let these ideas percolate for a bit, and then choose a few that work for you and your family.

When asked if she felt optimistic at the end of the COP26 negotiations, climate and governance expert Rebecca Willis pointed out that was the wrong question. The thing to ask ourselves is whether we are determined.

At Transition Kamloops, we are determined to do what we can to ensure a healthy, whole world for our children. We’re all going to need to lean on each other as time goes on. Thanks for standing together.

One thought on ““But what can I DO?”

  1. We must be mindful of proceeding so quickly that those of modest means are unable to shoulder additional costs brought on by climate action. We should be striving for a healthy, whole world for everyone!

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