As I scrolled through Facebook the day President Trump announced America was leaving the Paris accords to address climate change, I couldn’t do anything but sigh and shake my head. As a long time climate change activist, I increasingly identify with the climate scientists sinking into despair the same way the West Antarctic ice sheet is. As there was nothing else I could do, I posted a screenshot of the Weather Channel that made me laugh. That evening, I stood out on my back deck, stared at the stars, and wondered what the hell we’re doing to our children’s future.
At this point, there’s no talking about grandchildren or “seven generations” when it comes to climate change. The impacts are here, now. They’re on us and our children. Last year, Paris provided just a little bit of hope that things we getting better, only for Trump to rip the U.S.’s role to shreds.
So what does that leave? If the federal government isn’t taking action, it’s up to the states, the cities, and most of all, the citizens, including parents.
But isn’t that’s the dirty little secret? It was always up to us. After all, the citizens vote in their representatives. Unfortunately, the federal government isn’t representing American’s interests. (More Americans agree that the country should have stayed in the accord than pulled out.) That just means we need to find another way.
Building a Village
I’m not going to preach sustainability via consumerism. While I do believe in the power of the purse, buying eco-friendly cleaners isn’t going to save us.
No, I’m talking about something more revolutionary. Something that all of us – especially parents – need. Something that has nothing to do with capitalism at all. Community.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it will take a world of villages to make the future we want for the next generation. Building this village will come in all shapes and sizes.
It may mean marching in protests or calling your representatives.
But it may not.
It may mean supporting women’s access to family planning – one of the top ways to reduce our collective carbon footprint, even in the U.S. It could look like buying at the farmers’ market, chipping in at the community garden, or growing your own food to opt out of the industrial agricultural system. It could mean eating lower on the food chain: less meat and more veggies. It may mean walking or hauling your kids by bike or taking public transit to avoid the car. Or supporting local laws to make those things more accessible for more people in your community.
It may look like buying a smaller house so you don’t use as much energy or installing solar panels. It may mean leading kids on hikes so they appreciate nature and want less “stuff.” Or perhaps checking in on elderly neighbors on the extremely hot days that will increase in number with climate change.
We need all of these actions to build our sustainable villages of the future, both physical and metaphorical.
Building communities to stand against climate change will look like us taking care of each other and the systems on this planet that support us. It will look like thinking global and acting on whatever level we’re capable of.
Now, all of this may seem overwhelming. Being a parent is already so damn hard. There is only so much money and only so many hours in the day. But anything is better than nothing. And our kids and kids around the world deserve a lot better than nothing.
So moms and dads and grandparents and aunts and uncles and teachers and anyone who cares for a child – join me. Join us. We have work to do.
For more thoughts on activism and sustainability, be sure to check out The Challenge and Beauty of Being an Activist Mom and How to Introduce Kids to Political Activism. To keep up with us and get your weekly dose of Kindness Saturday, follow us on Facebook!