What can YOU do?

In my last post, I wrote about the Fairy Creek logging protest on Vancouver Island, and how, in light of our climate emergency, we need these old growth forests now more than ever.

I was so touched by all the notes I received, expressing enormous gratitude for my niece and nephew and the other protesters who are fighting for what’s right. To those of you who wrote – thank you so much!

Some of you also let me know that you shared my feelings of confusion and powerlessness in the face of our climate emergency, but that, you too, wanted to do something. So, as promised, here are a few somethings that we can all do, below!


But first! I want to give you an update on Fairy Creek, in case you haven’t heard. A few days ago, a British Columbia court refused to extend an injunction against the Fairy Creek protesters. The judge said he was troubled by the rising police violence and by civil liberties being infringed upon. This news doesn’t mean the logging will stop, but it does mean that the people on the ground are allowed to peacefully protest and will no longer be arrested for simply being there. That is something to celebrate!

I am so heartened by this news, and also by the recent global climate strike—the first since the pandemic—with the amazing Greta Thunberg back in action. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across 99 countries demanding that politicians do more and do better.


So, what can an average citizen—like you, like me—do in the face of the climate crisis? This list below is personal (I am doing or have committed to doing all of them) but it is certainly not exhaustive. I would LOVE to hear from you about your ideas and your actions. Please share!


  • Buy a hybrid or an electric vehicle. If you choose to drive and own a vehicle, there are now better options. This one felt so important to our family that we have just purchased a hybrid in exchange for our larger, not very fuel efficient, vehicle. I can’t even tell you how good this feels. No more idling at traffic lights! The car turns itself off!


  • Write letters. Sign petitions. On David Suzuki’s  Top Ten Things You Can Do About Climate Change list, the first is “Urge government to take bold, ambitious climate action now.” Our voices do matter, especially en masse. Writing a letter that’s personal instead of using a template amplifies your message.


  • Pay attention to what’s happening in your own backyard. There are endangered ecosystems everywhere. When they are destroyed, often for profit, it exacerbates global warming. Find out more and become a local eco-warrior.


  • Join the Youth Climate Action marches. If you have children, they may be the ones telling you about it! We owe it to the next generation to support them as they face more extreme weather events and as they learn to become the activists and change agents the world needs.


  • Grow more of your own food and support local farmers. And next time you’re in the grocery store, pay attention to where the produce is coming from. Is it possible to say no to the food that travels a long distance to reach you?


  • Eat less meat. Animal agriculture produces huge amounts of greenhouse gas. The author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Michael Pollan, puts it simply: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”


  • Buy second hand. This one’s a no-brainer. Less new stuff being made and transported to you means less emissions. Plus shopping at thrift shops is so much more of an adventure!


  • Resist Amazon. They may be able to deliver anything anywhere, and faster than anyone else, but the cost is an absolutely gigantic carbon footprint.


  • Keep your old phone. Not getting the latest phone every few years cuts down on a massive amount of electronic waste AND saves on the CO2 emissions that result from building new phones all the time. Here’s an article about how we’ve been trained to want the latest phone (when our current phone still works!) and what we can do about it.


  • Talk to others. Start conversations with your friends, your family, your neighbours, and your co-workers about what you’re worried about and what you’re doing. Inspire others and share commitments. Strive to build a community around you that is working together to bring about change.


There is one obvious thing that isn’t on this list and it’s because I can’t commit to doing it yet. It’s “less plane travel.”My family all live at a distance, so this is a tough one. I’d love to know how you grapple with this thorny topic, and in the meantime, here’s some food for thought:  a list of ways to reduce your carbon footprint if you still choose to fly.


Here’s what I’m finding to be true. Taking action, even in small ways, does make a difference. It makes a difference inside of me. Even if I can’t be sure that anything I’m doing is creating any impact, just doing something makes me feel empowered and more hopeful. I wish the same for you, wherever you are.

In the words of Greta Thunberg: “When we start to act, hope is everywhere.” 

Author: Renée Hartleib