kindly GUEST POSTed BY ELENA CIMELLI, CONTENTED EARTH
I’m Elena, a mum of two girls and climate activist, with a background as an entrepreneurial marketer who’s always had a passion for sustainable, healthy living and the environment. I’ve written two cookbooks and have an independent online store. Contented Earth provides online eco-learning courses, eco-friendly alternatives for everyday essentials and special gifts. My hope is to educate, inspire and support people in taking environmental and climate action – both at an individual and at a systemic level.
Feeling overwhelmed by sustainability, climate, and making changes? I get it.
When it comes to caring for the environment, our health, our family and living a sustainable life, it can feel so overwhelming at times, can’t it? I feel this deeply at times… Our family moved back to the UK, from California, in December 2017. (No, Kezia & I didn’t meet there; we met on the ‘gram.). The Blue Planet II series had aired in October 2017, and the ‘Blue Planet II effect’ was in full force. Everywhere I looked I could see plastic, rubbish, trash. I felt desperate to fix it, to clean it all up, to ‘solve’ it. I really felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders, and the anxiety and overwhelm at the size of the problem in my chest.
My journey of taking action and making sustainable changes
Fast-forward 18 months to June 2019. Greta Thunberg, the School Strikes and Fridays for Future movement and the Extinction Rebellion protests in London acted as catalysts and the UK declared a climate emergency. The UK became the first major economy to set a target of net zero (1) carbon emissions by 2050.
My concern about plastic and pollution had expanded to include the impacts of climate change on the environment, on our health and well-being and our children’s future. Again, I was desperate to act; to make changes in my life to lighten the climate footprint of our family. I made sure our energy tariff was with an eco company and the greenest tariff available, I subscribed to Ethical Consumer to help us with our purchases, I double-down on buying second-hand and we drastically reduced our red meat consumption, starting with only eating beef once a month. Last summer went flight free and you can see our #flightfree summer for on instagram HERE and in the reels that follow. But again, I was acting solo. I was trying to ‘fix it all’ on my own. Yes, individual actions DO add up.
“It’s only one straw”, said 8 billion people.
We must also remember the words of Anna Lappé: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
But in terms of climate: We’re on a deadline
But in terms of climate, if we want a chance of staying at only 1.5’C of global warming, we must cut carbon emissions by half by 2030 – that’s just over 6 years! To put that into context, in April 2020 when the world basically stopped, we experienced a 17% drop in emissions; the overall drop in emissions for 2020 was only 7%. (2) We don’t have the luxury of time for the markets to respond only to our consumer choices and individual choices. We need systemic change to help guide individuals, incentivise and penalise companies, and to speed up the much-needed decarbonisation of our daily world.
Multiplying my sustainable lifestyle by taking environmental political action
That’s where taking political action comes in. And that doesn’t have to mean paint, glue, slow-marching or any other arrestable action! Here are five easy ways to start taking political action – (almost) all of which you can do from the comfort of your sofa and phone. (Links in the footnotes.)
1. Sign Petitions
Signing petitions is one of the easiest political actions you can take, especially if the petition is hosted by https://petition.parliament.uk/ where the UK government has to respond when it reaches 10,000 signatures and it has to be debated in Parliament when it reaches 100,000. (3)
2. Email Tools for Environmental Political Action
Use email tools (see footnotes) to email your MP / political leaders / corporation executives. These tools are great when we don’t know what words to use. We can fill in our names and postcodes, and a pre-populated email is created. Just hit send!
Note: if we can top and tail the email with some personal sentences, it will have more of an impact. (4)
3. Email your MP directly
One effective way to get your voice heard is to email your MP directly. If you don’t already know who your MP is, look them up on www.theyworkforyou.org . Simply email them a couple of short paragraphs about an issue that is important to you. The more they hear from their constituents about a particular issue, the harder it is for them to ignore, stay silent and not raise the issue in Parliament. (5)
- Write to your MP not Minister – ask to them pass on your question if you want to communicate with the Minister.
- Be succinct.
- Include your personal reasons for writing – what are your worries, issues, reasons?
- Try to include local examples / issues.
4. Tag your MP in the comments of climate-related social media posts.
- Use www.theyworkforyou.org to find your MP and see if they have an Instagram or
- Tag them asking them to comment / take action on climate issues.
While tagging your MP in climate content isn’t a two-way conversation, it does show
publicly that this is an issue that you care about, is important to you and you want them to
act on. As with petitions, and writing to your MP, there is power in numbers, and the more
of us that show them we care, the harder we are to ignore.
5. Learn about Project Climate Vote and use your vote for environmental political action
Greenpeace UK have launched a campaign called Project Climate Vote. They are planning to
knock on doors, street by street, town by town to ask a million people to pledge to be
‘climate voters’, regardless of which party they vote for. As a climate voter, that person
commits to prioritising climate when they cast their vote, and after the election too. (6) Look
up the project online – I think it looks really interesting.
Environmental political action doesn’t have to be scary!
I hope by going through these five easy ways to take political action on the issues you care
about, I’ve shown that taking political action isn’t scary. We need it to try to bring about the
systemic change we need to help super-charge our own amazing efforts.
I’d love to know what you think. Does taking individual action feel for comfortable to you?
Do you sign petitions? Have you ever written to your MP? What form of political action do
you think might for you?
You can follow me Elena Cimelli HERE on Instagram for more daily tips and tasks on taking political action in your journey towards sustainability. I’d love to meet you there!
References & Further Reading for Taking Environmental Political Action
(1) net zero – noun. A target of completely negating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, to be achieved by reducing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. (via
Ecosia Oxford Languages)
(3) Sign Petitions:
Use Email tools to email your MP / Political Leaders /
- UK Government: https://action.friendsoftheearth.uk/petition/tell-government-fix-its-weak-
- UK Political Party Leaders: https://action.greenpeace.org.uk/climate-open-letter
- UK and Norwegian Governments: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/parents-call-for-uk-and-
- Email your MP: https://www.stopcambo.org.uk/rosebank-mp-actions
(6) Might you be interested in pledging to be a climate voter? Or even attending a welcome call? I have attended the welcome call myself and you don’t have to commit to anything on the call, just find out more about the project. Even on the training, there are many non-door-knocking roles available