Think Global, Start Local – How To Support Environmental Movements Right Where You Are

Often when we think about taking action on the current environmental crisis we face on this planet, we only think big. We think of the large global movements; cleaning plastic from the oceans, lobbying our governments to follow international climate accords or persuading companies to switch to environmentally-friendly practices. In focusing on global action, we sometimes overlook the incredible environmental movements which operate locally. These grass-roots volunteer organisations are making a difference in smaller, but no less important ways.

This week we wanted to focus on ways to support our local community organisations. We want to highlight some of the easiest ways you can immediately connect with organisations working to impact our planet for the better. 

Get In The Know

Do a search for any environmental groups and organisations in your local area. There are likely to be many fantastic groups doing their small part for the planet that you haven’t even heard of yet. Seek them out and find out more about what they do and how you can support them.

Be Their Fan

Now you have found some great organisations working locally, follow them on social media. Like and share their posts and help others find them too. Sign up to get their updates and encourage others in your town to do the same. 

Get Together

Make an effort to go to some of the events or classes arranged by these organisations. You might learn something new, meet some new people and at the same time feel great about supporting an organization doing good for our environment. It is a bonus for the organisation if you can also encourage others to join you. Turn up to their events with a team from your company or as a neighbourhood group and really show your support for what they are doing. 

Use Them

Well actually, use their services. Many fantastic local environmental movements have some excellent services they offer to the community such as repair cafes, toy libraries, community gardens, and much more. Support them by making use of the services they offer. 

Donate

Most local organisations rely on the generosity of others to survive. One of the best ways you can support is to donate regularly to help them cover their costs.

Donate in Kind

Donations don’t have to be only in money. Many local organisations operate with the essential help of volunteers or by donations of food, clothing or furniture. 

Add Your Voice To Their Message

Help your local environmental movement in getting their message out. You can offer to help canvas the streets, organise events, write letters to politicians or design a website for them. Be part of their efforts to change government policy, company or individual behaviour by lending your skills and voice to their cause. 

Share Your Ideas

Don’t be shy in offering new ideas to organisations working in your local area. Perhaps you have an excellent idea for a local cleanup or a tree planting day. Or maybe you can offer to coach volunteers in a skill that you have expertise in. 

Together We Can Do More

Get your neighbours, friends and coworkers to join in supporting local environmental movements by becoming members or regular donors. If there is no group in your local area focusing on an issue you feel strongly about, start one. Get a few like-minded individuals together to do something good for the environment. You can start small with a local cleanup, a small community garden plot or even hosting a class on an eco-friendly topic. Get active and encourage others to join you.  

Kindness to our planet needs to happen at every level; globally and locally. We hope that we will open our minds and hearts and support anyone who is working to make a difference, whether they are trying to change the entire world or just a small part of it. 

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much

– Helen Keller

The Fine Art of Shopping with Intent

Shopping with intent is about actively choosing to buy from companies and brands who value the same things as we do. For every dollar we spend sends a message about what we value. Shopping with intent means choosing to vote with our wallets for companies who align with our set of values. 

Too often, we spend money without thought of what we are giving value to. By choosing to shop with intent based on what we value, we support companies doing good and can demand change from those who are not.

Most of the time we buy something as it is a reflection of us. We buy things because they reflect our creativity, our status or simply because they highlight our best features. Buying with intent means we also care about the message behind the brands and companies we support. 

Decide What Matters The Most

Shopping with intent is about deciding what is important to you. Focusing on the issues you feel strongly about and using your purchasing power to make a difference by spending with companies who are aligned with your values.

Environmental Protection: In valuing the environment you will want to be buying products that are made in an environmentally-friendly manner. You will care greatly about sustainable products and supporting brands that use these.

Ethical Practices: In valuing ethical practices you care for the people behind the products, you will want to be buying from companies who treat workers with dignity, pay fair wages and ensure safe working conditions. You may also prefer to purchase locally-made, artisan-made and fair-trade products. 

Cruelty-free: In being concerned about the welfare of animals, you will be looking for brands that are vegan, cruelty-free and PETA-approved. You will be wanting to steer clear of animal skins, animal by-products or any item that has been tested on animals. 

Giving back: In being charitable with your money, you will be looking for brands that give back a portion of their profit to charities that you support. 

Your ideal set of values will be a combination of some or all of the above. For example, you may value products that are vegan, ethically produced and environmentally-friendly. You may, therefore, choose to buy things that do not take away from others, but instead give back to communities and to our planet. You may choose to only buy things that are from sustainable resources, can be recycled and do not add to the waste in our oceans. 

Realising the effect of your purchasing power is a powerful shift towards shopping with intention. Incorporating this intent into everything you buy makes a powerful statement to companies about the need to walk the talk when it comes to consumer values. 

shopping with intent

Steps Towards Shopping with Intent

Unsubscribe

Unsubscribe from stores and companies who do not follow your values. If you don’t see their advertising you won’t be tempted to buy from them. Find brands you like, that are aligned with your values and follow them. 

Learn More About The Brands

Get informed about the companies you buy from. Be sure to read the company’s About page to find out more about who they are and what they stand for. If the company claims to be environmentally-friendly, ethical or vegan, you will find more details on their About page. Look for certifications to prove they have gone the extra mile to be recognised as an ethical brand and are willing to submit to random audits to keep their certification. 

To consume or not to consume. 

Just because you can buy something, doesn’t mean you should. As conscious citizens, it makes sense to pause and consider if this is something you really need to add to your home or wardrobe. Shopping with intention does not mean going without, it means consciously choosing items which align with your values, and impact the world in a positive way. It means refusing to buy from brands who do not match your values. 

Ask The Hard Questions

Before you buy something, the most important questions to ask are: ‘Who made this item?’ and ‘How was it made?’. This is particularly important for fashion items. Here are some great resources to do just that:

The Fashion Revolution the global movement towards a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.

The Greenpeace Detox Catwalk encourages mainstream fashion labels to reduce the level of toxins used in the production process of their clothing. 

Start using the Good On You Brand Directory to check the impact of your chosen item on the planet, people and animals. 

Rank a brand gives you the latest sustainability rating for thousands of brands. 

Find out more in the consumer guides produced by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). 

Value Longevity

Shopping with intent also takes into account the durability of an item. Taking care to buy high-quality items also comes with the commitment to take care of them correctly through their lifetime. Companies like Patagonia’s worn-wear program is an excellent example of a company caring about the longevity of their products, with guides on how to care for them and repair them. 

Feel Great About Your Choices

The most important part of shopping with intent is to choose products from brands that you feel good about. It is about choosing items that you can proudly wear, knowing they align with your own values. Purchasing from value-based brands is an intentional vote for a better world for all of us. 

 “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness”  

Mahatma Gandhi

Nine Amazing Social Activists You Should Be Following

We love to support people who are making it their mission to make the world a better place. This week we want to introduce you to nine amazing social activists who want to change the world.

Sonita Alizadeh 

Sonita made her voice heard with the release of her rap video Brides For Sale in protest of forced marriages in her home country, Afghanistan. She was almost married twice, once at 10 years old and again at 16 years old before she rebelled by releasing her song on Youtube. At the time she was living in Iran and risked imprisonment as it was illegal for women to sing in public. However, her song went viral and she won a scholarship to study in the USA. She uses her experience to continue to rap and inspire women to rebel against the cruel traditions of child brides. Her website Sonita aims to amplify the issue of child marriage and aims to educate women internationally. 

Follow her on Twitter @SonitaAlizadeh and on Instagram 

“WE CAN’T CHANGE ANYTHING, IF WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND IT.”

Sonita Alizadeh

Emma Gonzalez

Emma González is a survivor and activist. She was a high school senior at Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland when a gunman opened fire killing 17 people. In response, she became a powerful voice for gun control and helped found March For Our Lives. Her speech at the March For Our Lives event stilled the world for the six minutes and 20 seconds that she stood in silence before explaining that was the amount of time it took a shooter to kill 17 people at her school. Emma uses her platforms to take a stand against violence and encourages others to do the same.

You can follow her on twitter @emma4change and on Instagram

“Change ? in my country ? it’s more likely than you think.”

Emma Gonzalez
environmental social activists

Melati and Isabel Wijsen

At the ages of 10 and 12, Melati and Isabel started their own movement,Bye Bye Plastic Bags. As two teenagers living in Bali, they were inspired by Rwanda, Africa banning plastic bags entirely. What started as a basic mission to get the people of Bali to start saying no to plastic bags, quickly became a bigger movement. They started beach cleanups, petitioned their government and their movement grew into an organisation with 25 staff and teams in fifteen different countries all working to reduce plastic bag use. Recently, the entire island of Bali was declared plastic bag free and Indonesia and has now committed to banning plastic bags completely by 2021. 

You can follow their movement on Twitter @BBPB_bali and on Instagram 

‘What can we do as children living in Bali, NOW, to make a difference?’

Melati and Isabel

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in history. While living in Pakistan under the Taliban rule she wrote a blog about life under the Taliban for the BBC. She was outspoken about the change she wanted to see and how she hoped to start a political party of her own to promote education and to create the Malala Education Foundation to help poor girls go to school. But, her activism and outspoken opinions about female education went against the Taliban rules, and in October 2012, Malala was shot by a Taliban gunman on a school bus.

The murder attempt galvanised international support for her and her family who were able to move to the U.K. Malala has not stopped speaking out about the importance of education for every child. She has founded the Malala Fund and published her first book, I Am Malala. In 2014 she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”. 

You can follow Malala on twitter @malala and on Instagram

We realise the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.

– Malala Yousafzai

Emma Watson

Although Emma Watson is already a celebrity, she is also a co-founder of the Hollywood Time’s Up movement, a UN ambassador and a constant champion of women’s rights. She is outspoken about the need for all women to have safe, fair and dignified work. Her work with the Time’s Up movement focused on exposing inequality and injustice for women in the workplace. She is determined to ensure the end of discrimination, harassment or abuse of women in the workplace. Her #HeforShe campaign asked men to step up and support equality for women too. 

Follow her on twitter @emmawatson and on Instagram

“If not me, who? If not now, when?” 

― Emma Watson

Greta Thunberg 

No list of social activists would be complete without Greta Thunberg. At 16, this incredible and passionate environmental activist is setting out the change the world. Greta drew the attention of the world by turning up outside the Swedish Parliament for 3 weeks to urge her government to act on the climate crisis. Despite being too young to vote, she has sparked an international youth movement – Fridays for Future. Her passion has inspired millions to take notice of the climate crisis. In a speech to the 2018 COP24 in front of world leaders, she cemented her status as a bold and fearless force for change, “I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference. And, if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to.”

Follow Greta on Twitter @GretaThunberg and on Instagram @gretathunberg

“Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around — we can still fix this. I want you to act as if the house was on fire. Because it is.”

– Greta Thunberg
vegan social activist

Dr. Melanie Joy

Melanie Joy, PhD, is an award-winning author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism. Her TED talk Toward Rational, Authentic Food Choices outlines the irrational choice of eating meat. She aims to empower concerned citizens and vegan advocates and to help create a more compassionate and just world for all beings, human and nonhuman alike. Her movement Beyond Carnism is dedicated to exposing and transforming carnism, the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals. 

You can follow her on twitter @BeyondCarnism and on Instagram

“Educating yourself does not mean that you were stupid in the first place; it means that you are intelligent enough to know that there is plenty left to learn.” 

Melanie Joy

Lauren Ornelas

Lauren Ornelas is an animal rights advocate and the founder and executive director of the Food Empowerment Project This vegan food justice project raises awareness about the power of food choices. It also educates on the interconnected problems of animal abuse, environmental depletion, unfair conditions for agricultural workers, and lack of healthy foods in low-income areas. She is quite a persuasive advocate and is reportedly responsible for turning Whole Foods CEO John Mackey vegan.

Follow her Twitter: @FoodIsPower, Instagram: @foodempowermentproject

“When people not only use their individual food choices but also use their collective voices to change policy or corporations, that is power”

-Lauren Ornelas