Experts, enthusiasts, and activists give us some insight on how to live politically, sustainably and ethically
Climate change is the biggest issue that faces humankind right now, and the future of our little blue ball is up against the clock. Genuine progress can feel impeded by everything from the lack of political urgency to compassion fatigue in the face of existential crisis.
While Greta Thunberg has galvanised the world, spoken at the UN Climate Change Conference, and shamed politicians worldwide, for Thunberg, her biggest achievement was the small action she decided to take; her first protest. Across the globe, millions of schoolchildren, students, and adults alike are rallying behind the charismatic teen. It is a testament to the small, but earth-shaking things that are within our remit to do. The United Nations’ Global Goals – most specifically goal number four, ‘quality education’ – highlights how we can make climate consciousness part of our lives, and from Extinction Rebellion to the Sunrise Movement, we see the grassroots rising up. Dazed has partnered with one initiative, #TOGETHERBAND, to champion real, actionable goals for change – set up by British sustainable accessory brand BOTTLETOP, it focuses on bringing awareness to the United Nations’ Global Goals through the release and promotion of friendship bands.
In the build up to the potentially world-changing UN General Assembly in September 2020, the next 17 months will see #TOGETHERBAND host events themed around the goals and their corresponding themes as colours, like orange for infrastructure and innovation, or red for world poverty.
In the mean time, Dazed speaks to politicians, writers, activists, and conservation workers, to establish what we can do to work towards a better planet.
Jake Woodier is campaigns co-coordinator at the UK Student Climate Network, focusing on climate, social and economic justice
”Start organising for bold and ambitious solutions – like a Green New Deal – in your schools, colleges, and communities. Living ethically day to day is a tough one and completely dependent on your socioeconomic situation, but just do what you can. Whether that’s reducing your meat consumption, buying less and repairing more, it’s all useful.
Jake’s recommended reading list:
‘On the whitewashing of the environmental movement’, Nadhya Kamalaneson, gal-dem
‘A Green New Deal must deliver global justice’, Asad Rehman, Red Pepper
Amy Heley is a 23 year old Green Party Councillor on Brighton and Hove City council
“Get involved in politics. Whether that’s becoming a political activist or running for election yourself, politics is the most direct way to change climate policy, and it’s vital that we have more elected politicians that prioritise radical climate action.”
Amy’s recommended reading list:
Out Of The Wreckage, George Monbiot – “This opened my eyes even more to the urgency of the necessity to shift our focus as a society away from capitalism and corporate greed towards a more caring society with social and environmental justice at its core.”
Noga Levy-Rapoport, 17, led the London climate strike march in February 2019 and has since become heavily involved with the UK Student Climate Network. Her work primarily involves the Green New Deal campaign and school outreach. She confronted corporate leaders directly at International Petroleum Week in February, and has spoken at several rallies and events to demand urgent climate action
“Take to the streets; going to the youth strikes, and joining, and organising protests is the number one way to engage with the new climate movement right now. Other than the obvious – going vegan, living car free – I’d say there are better ways to live more ethically. When we talk about ethics, we’re really just talking about morals; and it’s only morally right to popularise taking action. It’s about systemic change, not just whether you use a plastic straw or not.
Noga’s recommended reading list:
‘I work in the environmental movement. I don’t care if you recycle’, Mary Annaise Heglar, Vox – “This is an insight into the environmental movement and what really matters.”
‘The UK says it’s a climate leader. But it’s complicit in climate atrocities’, Mat Hope, The Guardian – “This explains with crystal clarity the way our system has enabled this crisis to go as far as it has.”
Tom is a campaigner who currently works for Europe’s main climate innovation initiative. They are the Green prospective parliamentary candidate for South West Hertfordshire, and outside of the day job is bringing a cross-party group together to explore the role of, and reforms to, the House of Lords
“My advice is to find a community working on the thing you’re interested in and good at, and build relationships within that community. That could be a creative or technocratic area. To someone wanting to live more ethically – I’d say if you’re in a position to do it, go vegan. I appreciate this isn’t an option for a lot of people though. Think about using your money, your vote, and your diet in aid of climate action.”
Tom’s recommended reading list:
The End We Start From, Megan Hunter – “It’s a beautiful, personal story about a woman who finds herself in a flooded London thanks to climate chaos. It helps you see the potentially near-future real-life impacts of climate breakdown.”
Jamie is the 16 year old founder of Zero Hour, a youth focussed, and youth operated climate change activism group
“The climate crisis is the grand culmination of all our societal injustices that have been building up for centuries. You cannot properly address the climate crisis without addressing the capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and racism at the root of it.
People like to say that personal actions and system change are equally important, but 99 per cent of what we need in order to solve the climate crisis is revolutionary system change. Live as eco friendly in your personal life as you can, but don’t let the fossil fuel corporations victim blame you into thinking that the reason we’re in this mess is because you used a plastic straw once.
Jamie’s recommended reading list:
‘Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals’, Martin Lukas, The Guardian
Dan Burgess is a strategist, co-designer, creative activist, writer and podcaster. He works with NGOs, brands, social entrepreneurs, communities, activists, creatives and designers via The SpaceShip.earth, and collaboration unit WildLabs.is . He’s co-founder of GoodforNothing.com
“I think we need many different flavours of action, so I would start by getting out on the streets with the young climate strikers, happening every month in a place near you (check out UKSCN.org). There are loads of amazing young humans stepping up but we need all ages and all walks to step up too – you learn a lot from participating in these experiences. Find a quiet(ish) spot in a park, garden, wood, river bank, coastline, anywhere close to you where it’s a bit less human, but a spot that speaks to you. Phone off, sit quietly, still, and notice what you see, hear, feel, smell – you'll feel awake, beautiful, interconnected, and interdependent.”
Dan’s recommended reading (and listening) list:
This Is Not a Drill, Extinction Rebellion – “This handbook is a beautiful, thoughtful, accessible, and useful guide which really lands the context we find ourselves in right now.
The Spaceship Earth podcast, Dan Burgess – “This is a really great podcast...”
Jennifer Lane is freelance writer and naturalist based in Manchester. She raises awareness of wildlife conservation issues and has written environmental pieces for the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, and British Vogue
“Long, warm winters and wet, scorching summers mean trouble for wildlife. Flowers are blooming earlier and earlier each year, butterflies are emerging long before they’re supposed to, and birds are returning to our shores when there is no food supply ready to support them. Nature needs us right now and you can do small things to help it in your daily life; leave out a bowl of water in your garden to stop birds from overheating; plant wildflowers on your balcony to give insects a helping hand; or feed sugar water to a bee if you find one that seems exhausted on the ground. I really admire what the Vegetarian Society is doing right now. Their message, “eat to beat climate change”, is about eating more plant-based food to help stop climate change in its tracks.”
Dr Alice Bell is a campaigner, researcher and writer. She’s co-director at climate charity 10:10, on the board at Medact and part of the Art Not Oil collective. She's currently writing a book on the history of the climate crisis, out with Bloomsbury in Autumn 2021. Her first book, Can We Save the Planet?, will be published by Thames and Hudson next spring
“I tend to suggest people start with something they’re passonate about. So if you love travel, take a pledge not to fly for a year (and Instagram the shit out of all those epic train trips.) If you’re a foodie, challenge yourself to go vegan for the summer. If protesting sounds like your cup of tea, join a direct action group. If having a quiet word with someone one on one is more your style, visit your MP and quiz them on climate change. I’m biased, but you should totally sign up to 10:10’s work because we’re fab and we have some awesome plans for the next 6 months. We do stuff like build solar powered trains and run community tree planting events. There’s something for everyone.
Alice’s recommended reading list:
‘We need courage, not hope, to face climate change’, Kate Marvel – “I love climate scientist Kate Marvel, and her words on climate courage.”
Nakate Vanessa is a 22 year old from Uganda who teaches primary school children about climate change and how to save our lives from its wrath
“My tip is that climate change is real, and dangerous for us all. It knows no age. Our lives depend on how we relate with earth. If we destroy nature, the consequences will be far greater. Let us live responsibly and take care of the environment like it’s our home. No one can live in a damaged house, or a house on fire – the same way no one can live on a heated earth. I recommend all climate activism, especially those who are missing classes in order to take climate action. They should be appreciated.”
Tyrone Scott is a 27 year old from Hackney and is an ardent climate activist and environmentalist, an elected member of the Young Greens Executive Committee, the official youth wing of the Green Party. In the role, he manages campaigns and communications for the Young Greens, highlighting the effects of climate change on a daily basis
“Find a local activist group and find out how you can get involved. Systematic change always starts with grassroots activism and finding local groups is a great way to implement change. My one tip for living more ethically would be to cut out any single-use items, whether that’s coffee cups, cutlery or food packaging, always look to re-use.
Tyrone’s recommended reading list:
Rise of the Green Left, Derek Wall – “This is a brilliant study of the deep rooted issues preventing effective climate action and the tools we need to overcome them. It was released in 2010, however, it is even more poignant today.”
Holly Gillibrand is a 14 year old environmentalist and activist from Fort William, Scotland. Since January, she has been striking from school for the climate. She is also a young ambassador for Scotland: The Big Picture, and is passionate about restoring and rewilding nature, for wildlife, and for people.
“One tip for engaging with the environmental discussion is to join a local environment or conservation group. That could be anything – Extinction Rebellion, your local school strike, Greenpeace, the WWF. Join like-minded people and make a difference together. The best thing you can do for the environment is to go vegan. Giving up meat is the most effective personal change you can make.
Holly’s recommended reading list:
This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook
Wilding, Isabella Tree
Cameron Saul is the co-founder of #TOGETHERBAND and BOTTLETOP. #TOGETHERBAND is raising awareness for the United Nations’ 17 global goals. BOTTLETOP has designed a sustainable, unisex #TOGETHERBAND friendship bracelet for people to learn about the goals and play an active role in spreading the word.
“My tip for engaging with the climate change discussion and, in turn, living more ethically, is all about getting educated on the facts and allowing that to inform and inspire our day to day actions and choices. For example, until recently I believed that the increasing threat from plastic in the ocean was the biggest crisis facing ‘Life Below Water’ (Global Goal 14) when in fact, it turns out that over fishing and acidification due to the absorption of increasing amounts of CO2 and rising sea temperatures are really greater threats.
Understanding this and the interplay between climate change has helped me to better understand its impact and the critical role that the ocean plays in balancing everything. In turn, I’m making sure to check that the fish I eat has been sustainably sourced. In terms of organisations carrying out amazing work in this space, we are supporting WWF and their coral conservation program off the coast of Tanzania.
Cameron’s recommended reading list:
“I would like for everyone to choose the Global Goal that they resonate with most and then get proactive in supporting it, because the goals are the route map for a healthy planet, laid down by the UN with the target date of 2030. The next 10 years are critical in terms of how the next 10,000 years play out for humanity, so let’s get organised and focus on the issues that matter most to us as individuals, organisations, and nations. You can start by visiting #TOGETHERBAND to choose your Goal, learn about how you can support it and what organisations are moving the needle in that space.”