Today’s Global Climate Strike is expected to draw record numbers of people to the streets, with more than 100,000 people already having gathered in Melbourne – one of the first cities to kick off the demonstrations.
Children and adults will march through cities and towns around the world, calling on those in power to do more to fight climate change, shun fossil fuels and protect the planet.
But if you can’t make it to the protests today, there are a number of ways to stand (or sit) in solidarity and participate from afar.
Small actions can make a difference, says Muna Suleiman, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “An act of solidarity could be something really simple, such as taking a group photo with your colleagues or neighbours,” she tells HuffPost UK.
“Or you could plan a more complex activity like a lunchtime panel discussion. Whatever it is, all you really need is a group of people, a camera, and a social media account.”
Here are 11 ways to get involved with armchair activism.
1. Protest on social media
Grab an A3 sheet of paper and a thick pen, write why you are supporting the strike today, and take a photo of yourself holding the sign. If you’re in the office or at school, get a group of you together and snap a pic. Next, share it on social media using the hashtag #ClimateStrike and #TakeClimateAction.
2. Join a Climate Action group
Climate Action groups form a large network of people who care about the environment. There are various groups based across the UK that you can join, and regularly meet with, to discuss how you can create change – after all, there’s strength in numbers.
3. Change your bank
Changing banks could be one of the easiest and most effective things you do for the environment, according to WWF. “Some banks continue to invest in fossil fuels and environmentally damaging practices,” says a charity spokesperson, “but by using our people power we can show them that their customers don’t want their money fuelling dirty business.”
Want to find out how sustainable your bank’s practices are? Ask them.
4. Lobby your MP
Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party, is urging people to lobby their MPs to support Caroline Lucas’s Green New Deal bill.
“We need government action to make sure the greenest options are the cheapest and easiest options,” she tells HuffPost UK. “Petition and lobby your councillors to declare or act on climate emergency motions.”
5. Say no to food waste
You can help stop food waste by buying wonky veg, buying direct from a supplier, or embracing your leftovers. Make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your belly if you do a food shop or go out for dinner. And if you want to get serious on food waste, check out these three apps.
6. Make simple switches
Even making small changes can, when implemented by many, make a huge difference. Swap single-use items for reusable alternatives, WWF says. Use (or buy) a reusable coffee cup if you get a coffee today. And in future, carry a water bottle, tote bag, cutlery and metal straw with you, so you don’t have to buy disposable, single-use plastic.
7. Take part in Secondhand September
“Always think about the four Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This may mean being more imaginative in how you shop,” says WWF’s spokesperson.
“Why not share, swap, make, or buy secondhand instead? Remember that the most sustainable option is using what you already own.” Find out more about Secondhand September here.
8. Switch energy providers
This is definitely one you can do on your lunch break. Use WWF’s footprint calculator to find out your personal impact on our planet and what you can do to reduce it. This may include switching to a renewable energy provider.
9. Go meat-free
If you want to reduce your personal carbon emissions, try reducing your meat – perhaps having three or four meat-free days a week, or cutting it out completely. The government’s former chief environment scientist, Professor Sir Ian Boyd, said eating less red meat is one of the key ways we can help meet the UK’s intended target of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
10. Ditch your car
Why not walk, cycle or use public transport today – and throughout the weekend – instead of jumping in your car? Focus on the positives this can bring – just 10 minutes of brisk walking a day is great for your health, and it also reduces air pollution (research shows air pollution dropped by 89% on some sections of the London marathon route in 2018 when large parts of London were closed to traffic.)
11. Transform your garden
Ok, so you can’t do this from your desk today, but you can definitely do it over the weekend. The more we protect and restore nature, the better it can help us in the fight against climate change.
“Learn about the nature that’s around you, how different species benefit the environment and how you can help them,” suggests WWF’s spokesperson. “Make small changes in your garden to welcome wildlife: plant native vegetation, build a variety of habitats and let things get a little wild.”