We’re all busy.  We don’t have time to add anything, and certainly not things we hate to do or don’t understand.

 I get it.  I’m with you on that.

 And for so many of us, climate change seems like this insurmountable problem that we’re powerless to contribute to or affect.  We believe that changing all our elected officials is the only, and impossible, solution.  That attitude is defeatist and leaves us feeling paralyzed and hopeless.

 But it’s not true.  We’re powerful beyond belief.

 We empower ourselves when we find something that fits our schedules, values, interests, and strengths.   The options are vast, so it’s just a matter of committing to exploring the options until we find the right fit.

 As someone who’s been mostly disconnected from my sense of responsibility of caring for Earth until recently, I’ve had to learn a lot about the ways Earth needs our care now.   There are so many opportunities to contribute, small and large, and everyone can find something that works for them.

 Here are some approaches that might be of interest to you.  I bet at least one will be a good fit for your schedule and interests.  Just keep exploring because there are many opportunities to contribute beyond what I’ve listed here. 

Legislative – You’re not going to singlehandedly change the composition of our legislative chambers, but you can contribute by writing letters to elected officials, donating money to those who have a pro-environment agenda, participating in a climate strike, or volunteering to canvas or make calls to voters during election years.   You can even learn to lobby.  Many environmental advocacy groups help average citizens learn to meet with or petition their elected officials and ask them to support green legislation, funding, and programs.  Remember, all the so-called experts out there started out as rookies, just like you and me.  All you have to do is join the organizations, such as Sierra Club or Mothers Out Front, and look for volunteer opportunities, and sign up.  These organizations are designed to engage us citizens no matter what our level of knowledge or experience, so don’t worry about feeling ignorant. Just get involved.

Regulatory – Federal, state, and local governments have rules and regulations regarding environmental protection for existing and new businesses and facilities whose operations impact the environment.   Often, citizens are given no voice or notification about the activities of polluters, so environmental advocacy groups monitor and petition to have the interests of the citizens considered during approval and monitoring.  Join advocacy organizations, such as Sierra Club or Mothers Out Front, look for volunteer opportunities and get involved.

Conservation – Prefer to be outside?  There are ample opportunities to help clean up trash and invasive species, or help to restore forests, lakes, and streams.  Parks may have their own volunteer programs, or have nonprofit organizations that serve that function for them.  For example, the James River Park system near my home has an organization called Friends of the James River Park that organizes volunteer clean-ups.  The Nature Conservancy also organizes events; you can search for NC events here.

Your own garden and yard – Pesticides and fertilizers are bad for the environment and get into our water system, even if it feels like they are a prerequisite for an attractive yard.  Consider adopting local and indigenous species, which are lower maintenance, and start discussions with your neighbors about allowing more natural ground covering to replace the grass.  Switching over can save you time and money, and help to protect our drinking water.  Educate yourself on how to adopt more organic gardening methods either by searching the internet for resources or for classes in your community.  Why not even try rewilding, i.e., adopting a natural landscape where mowing and chemicals are not needed?  To learn more about rewilding, check out this website. 

Your own practices connecting to nature – Deepening and improving your connection with nature is good for your mental and physical health and we believe it is also good for Earth.  Regardless of your schedule or interest level for legislative or other activities, everyone can improve their connection with our natural world by simply being more present when outdoors or looking out the window from our cars or homes.   We can also add Earth to our prayers, and reflect on our gratitude for the gifts and nourishment Earth provides to us every day in the way of our food, our homes, our air, and our water. 

I am personally trying to be more intentional about the amount and quality of time I spend outdoors, including relocating my exercise routine to walks outdoors instead of in the gym, and to being more present when I’m out, even when I’m driving.  I feel so much better as a result!

I hope this list inspires you to get involved in some way that is in alignment with your values, interests, and available time.  Earth does so much for us, can’t we return the favor?

I know this list is very incomplete.  Share with us the other ways you care for Earth so that we may all learn together!

Written by Susanna Wu-Pong Calvert
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