How to make an impact during lockdown
By Ali Lowe, on 4 May 2020
Many of us are finding we have more time on our hands right now — here’s how you can make a difference with your downtime.
As we watch the world around us shut down, it can be hard not to feel a bit hopeless and helpless. People are getting sick and losing jobs and our lives are changing to the point where we can’t do something as simple as see our friends and families.
The truth is, COVID-19 has plunged us into a deep and unprecedented economic and social crisis — but it will pass. Once the virus is suppressed, businesses will re-open and people will get back to work.
What will remain is the ecological crisis which was upon us long before COVID-19 reared its ugly head; a crisis caused by global pollution and runaway climate change. It too is and will continue to change everything about life as we know it, long after COVID-19 is a distant memory.
So while many of us find that we have more time on our hands than our normally busy lives allow, now is actually the perfect time to really make a lasting difference. By committing your time now, you can have an impact on the climate crisis. You can send a message to the world that protecting the climate must be a part of our response to, and recovery from, COVID-19 — that returning to business as usual isn’t an option.
Not sure how to get started? Here are six top tips on how to change the world from your couch during lockdown:
1. Join the Digital Rebellion!
While the spread of COVID-19 means no mass gatherings, the climate crisis continues and this cannot be forgotten or ignored. The Autumn Rebellion will now be a digital one and Extinction Rebellion needs your voice. Mass civil disobedience is required until the Government responds adequately to the ongoing climate and ecological emergency. Join the Digital Rebellion from May 11th and send a message online that the government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency; act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025; and create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
2. Regenerative culture starts at home
As if the climate crisis wasn’t enough, coronavirus has only further proven we are all part of one global community – and that looking after ourselves means looking out for each other. While some opportunities for mass action to fight climate change have been derailed by lockdown, the pandemic is the perfect time to come together in other ways that can only strengthen our communities’ capacity to fight together for the systems change we need on the other side of this planetary crisis. Check out the #AloneTogether handbook to find out more about how you can help meet the challenge of coronavirus through self-care, compassion, creativity and mutual aid in your community.
3. Lobby your MP!
Send a letter to your MP’s constituency office demanding that the government tells the truth and acts now – making climate change part of our response to COVID-19. Over 100 local councils have declared a climate emergency to date (see if your council is on the list). Here are some tips on how to reach your MP effectively. And always remember: they work for us.
4. Make every cent count
One of the biggest ways that many of us prop up the fossil fuel industry is through where we choose to put our money. Every dollar that you have in the bank or in your super is money that it can choose to lend out to organisations looking for funding for projects — and many of those are businesses involved in taking fossil fuels out of the ground. By choosing to put your money in banks that are committed to sustainable investments not polluting ones, you can play your part in making sure that fossil fuel companies don’t get their hands on the cash they need to do their dirty work. Check out MarketForces.org.au to find out what your bank or super is up to and how you can make cleaner choices.
If you’re feeling financially secure, think about supporting those who are doing great work to confront the climate crisis and our government’s inaction. Extinction Rebellion relies on donations to fund its fight for life on earth — whether that’s raising awareness, training volunteers, or helping out those who’ve given up incomes to take up the cause. Putting your dollars to work for systems change is just a few clicks away.
5. Make sustainability a lifestyle – and inspire others
Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of things that people do these days that are at best tokenism. Carrying your keepcup but flying long haul several times a year isn’t exactly ideal. But over the long run, and if enough people act, some lifestyle changes can really make a difference. You’re probably aware that industrial beef production is one of the biggest factors contributing to Co2 emissions. Try going vegetarian or vegan while you’re stuck inside. Not only will you find your veggies last longer in the fridge, meaning less trips to the supermarket, but now’s the perfect time to test out some new recipes. Likewise, you might have noticed many people have taken up cycling more during lockdown to get some exercise and move around their city without taking public transport – this doesn’t have to stop when we go back to normal. Most cities have plenty of online resources showing you where local cycle paths are, like this one. Make these changes part of your everyday routine and you can reduce your overall carbon footprint and inspire others to make a change.
6. Get educated and spread the word
Not only will it galvanise you to act but it will also put you in a better position to convince your friends and family why they should too. Not sure where to start? Check out this Intelligence Squared debate last month featuring XR member, journalist George Monbiot discussing whether capitalism can get us out of the climate crisis. Or maybe Extinction Rebellion’s This is Not a Drill, described as “a collection of pithy, punchy essays designed to shake us out of our collective despair-induced lethargy”. Still wondering whether blocking traffic is an effective protest strategy? This is an Uprising is a primer on non-violent civil disobedience in the twenty-first century, showing how it can and is being used to change the world. Grab a copy at your local bookshop or library.
The situation we find ourselves in is unprecedented — so let’s use it wisely. A few simple steps can make a huge difference, even if you never leave your living room.