The Climate March, specifically called The People’s Climate Movement, in Washington D.C. has been in the works long before the November election and its mission – to raise awareness and action on behalf of our currently warming climate – may be political but it is in many ways non-partisan. I don’t think you need to be a parent to want to leave behind a planet on whose surface human life can survive, but it certainly gives you a big stake in the game.

Because I have a three-year-old, getting down to D.C. with, or even without, my family feels daunting at the moment. Maybe, if I can get it together, we’ll attend a sister march closer to New York, but in the meantime and after, I want to become a better environmental activist and advocate. What does that mean? I am obviously no expert, but I’ve read some articles and thought about some things and here’s my plan going forward:

Consuming Less*

I realize, as someone who is the opposite of a compulsive shopper (rather, I am someone who has spent all winter yearning for and in actual need of a warm throw blanket but have been unwilling to actually pony up and buy one) this will not be a feat. But it, 
a) helps me justify my excessively cautious purchasing practices, and
b) sets an example for my son that acquiring stuff is not the key to happiness.

Perhaps in ten to twenty years, he’ll agree! It’s so easy as a parent to buy and acquire things to entertain your kids, but so much of it has a painfully short shelf life. Borrowing or buying used toys and clothes and passing them along is a boon to the planet, but I know I need to buy fewer tiny plastic yogurt containers, plastic food pouches, and other adorable kid-friendly single use foods that produce more waste than they do nutrition. It’s hard to do battle with convenience as a busy parent, but I know I need to try!  

*Consuming less, its worth noting, is slightly different from conscious consumerism, and you can read about the flaws in the latter here.

Not eating so much meat

This quick read on what might happen if you raise your kid a vegetarian is inspiring. Its author, Cody Lindquist, explained her raising-a-vegetarian rationale to me: “So many people have meat at the center of every meal not because they love it, by because they think it’s part of a healthy diet.

When we realized we could get everything we needed for our son through veggies, dairy, eggs, beans, nuts, and fruit it was a no brainer to get rid of it. If everyone just cut back on the amount of meat they ate, we’d go a long way towards limiting our carbon emissions!” We’re not entirely meat-free yet, but I’ve been making heartier vegetarian pasta dishes and they’ve been shockingly well received.  

Calling my Reps

Calling your reps daily has been incredibly intimidating for me so I try to call once a week instead. I’m in New York so much of the time calling just involves a thank you (YES, Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, and Yvette Clark) for fighting on behalf of clean air and water. But the devil is in the details and there is so much more to fight for, like the kind of regulations that’ll protect our water, air, parks, and food going forward.

As the writer of the conscious consumerism article linked to above, Alden Wicker, says, “If you really care about the environment, climb on out of your upcycled wooden chair and get yourself to a town hall meeting.”

Educating myself

Our local chapter of 350.org has a helpful explanation of the power of divesting from fossil fuel. According to Brooklyn350, “26 state governments, 22 counties, and 90 cities, including some of the nation’s biggest, took their money from multinationals that did business in [South Africa]. The South African divestment campaign helped break the back of the Apartheid government and usher in an era of democracy and equality.”

Like most parents, I have to be really mindful of what little free time I’ve got, but it takes five to fifteen minutes to learn a little more about ways to protect our planet. I forget how we have the opportunity every day to vote with our wallets and our investments and I want to work harder to vote with mine.

Giving some time or dollars

OK, this, for many families at many different times, is just not in the cards! The necessity of activism, however, will only go away when enough of us join the fight. Since I’m not feeling flush at the moment, I’m planning to have my husband stay home one night while I meet a friend at a Brooklyn 350 meeting or environmental documentary screening.

It’s such a small thing, I know, and a privilege, too, that I have a husband who can watch our kid while I indulge in some activism and get out for the night. I don’t know where else to start. If you don’t either, come join me!