Environmentalism

The Activist Lifestyle

 Activism is my rent for living on the planet. –Alice Walker

Step right up, step right up, folks, for the Activist Lifestyle! If you are concerned about what the human occupation of Planet Earth is doing to our shared environment, have we got options for YOU! We are scaled to your Activist Comfort Level: just take a look at our Four Step Program, consider how high you want to go, and don’t take one step higher than your Activist Vertigo lets you.

BEGINNER: If you think there’s a problem with pumping 400 million years’ worth of carbon into the atmosphere in the last three centuries and laying down enough asphalt and concrete in the United States alone to cover the state of Ohio, you’ve taken the first step! Inform yourself—knowledge is power! Read the classics, old and new: Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Ed Abbey, Gary Snyder, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, et al. Sign up to environmental websites and Facebook pages for up-to-date news and activist links. Take a few actions, sign a petition..see how you feel. If you’re still conscious, start posting environmental news to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Encourage debate among your friends and peers—test your commitment against those with whom you disagree. Adopt the three Rs as your new mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! It takes three weeks to make something a habit—before you know it you’ll do these things unconsciously.

MODERATE: It’s time to put your information to work! Anyone can post a meme. Do something. Make a few more changes. Join an environmental group—or ten. If you haven’t already cut animal protein out of your diet, start observing Meatless Mondays, or cut meat down to three times a week. Find a farmers market or a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) near you. GET OUTSIDE! Walk more, buy a bicycle or use a bike share program for local trips. Your local business owners would love to get to know you, especially the friendly people at the farmers market whose livelihoods you support! You might even make new friends, people moving through the Activist Levels like yourself. Sign up for the We Are Wildness Rewild Your Life 30-day Challenge and see if you can go back to the way you lived before. If you can’t, you might be ready for…

ADVANCED: Make radical changes in the way you live to reduce your impact on our stressed Mother Earth. Stop driving unless absolutely necessary—ride your bike, take public transportation, carpool. Use the Net to its fullest: research everything you eat and wear, find out what it’s made from, where it comes from, who grew or made it. Why benefit the worst pollution offenders? Divest your retirement or other investments if you have them from fossil fuels and reinvest them in companies working toward a cleaner, greener future. If you have the means, put solar panels on your home that will one day charge your electric car. Think that every time a panel goes on somewhere in the world, a polar bear and all the other wild beings that have nowhere else to go stands a little more firmly on the ice and earth they’ve known their whole lives—thanks to you! And you might finally be ready to take one of the ultimate steps to clean up our air, water, and food system: go vegan. Nothing contributes more to land, water, and air pollution than the cruel factory farm industry. And most certainly support those cafes and restaurants near you that are cruelty-free.

FEARLESS: Take it to the streets! March Against Monsanto in May, participate in 350.org’s Divestment Day rallies worldwide in February 2016—search and find an action and take part. Boots and sandals on the ground not only show support for the movements, they keep you motivated—in these dark times, peer support and connection make us realize we are not alone. And you may finally want to do something yourself: start your own action, your own organization, maybe rent a stall at that farmers market you’ve come to know so well for yourself and others of like mind with information on something that moves you. Because all great things start small, from a single idea put in motion by someone, somewhere. That could be you.

There are, of course, for those who choose to go there, higher steps—most hit serious Activist Vertigo before they get there. Before you consider rising to that level, you might want to inform yourself with certain pieces of legislation like The Animal Enterprise Protection Act, The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and Communications Management Units. Because while eco-bloggers and activists have a sense of humor, the industries we are targeting do not.

So step right up, people! If you feel like you’ve waited long enough, maybe you have. The only wasted action is the one that isn’t done! We are, after all, only trying to save the world.

Author William Huggins

William Huggins is an avid hiker, reader, husband, father, and dedicated rescue-dog maniac–though not necessarily in that order. Educated in a series of remote places because of his father’s work for the United States Air Force, he was born an advocate of wild places and grew into that green skin. Bill writes for Texas Books in Review and has a series of six essays for Conservation Lands Foundation appearing at westernarctic.org and a new short story, “Watercharmer,” coming this fall 2017 in the anthology Visions VII: Universe.”

More posts by William Huggins