Let's Get to Work


Oh, you guys.

I had a few posts lined up for last week while I was away, but after the election results I bumped them all until later, after I had a chance to write what I really wanted to.

Our trip to Seattle was wonderful, but it was a hard week to be on vacation because all I wanted to do was get down to work. I felt and still feel a deep sadness, a worry that feels physical, that lives in the pit of my stomach. The biggest shock for me is a deepened understanding that I can’t rely on others to do the work of shaping our policies and culture in a way that will protect people and the planet. This has made it clear the way forward, for me at least, is a lot of hard work.

Where we go from here looks different for all of us. I have a lot of ideas about what it will look like for me. Broadly, I plan to participate more. In campaigns and organizations and my community. In case you’re in the same boat, tomorrow I'll share a list of fifty things, big and small, free and not, that you could do next. I hope it gives you a few ideas for things you can do to help the planet over the next few years.

I think one of the most important things we can do for the planet is to de-stigmatize environmental action and make it accessible. Environmentalism isn’t just for environmentalists; anyone can try to live more sustainably, regardless of what group or party with which they identify. Making protecting the planet the purview of so-called “environmentalists” absolves everyone else of the responsibility to act, when what we really need is not just action from some of us but from all of us.

This blog aside, in the past I've tended keep my environmental actions to myself, so as not to be seen as forcing them upon others. When people ask why I brought a ceramic plate to an office lunch in lieu of using the styrofoam provided, I'd downplay it rather than to briefly explain the choice in the larger context of the simple sustainable actions that are so much a part of my life. But in doing so I think I sold myself and other people short. 

I’m going to work on owning my environmentalism and introducing it to others in gentle, simple ways. Will you join me? When someone asks why you’ve brought a cloth napkin, explain why. Tell friends you love your compost service (if you do). Teach them how you ask for coffee in your reusable mug, exactly what to say to the barista. Invite them along with you to a meeting or demonstration or to your home. This isn't to to push your values onto others, but to give them opportunities to step up and claim a piece of responsibility for something they probably know matters but aren't sure where to start.

I’ll keep showing up here more than I usually do. Collecting helpful sustainability resources, and writing about all the things, big and small, that we can do for our planet and our future. Tomorrow I’ll share a list of ideas for things we can do to be more active in shaping and forwarding the broader environmental movement in this country.

I’m agitated, so I’ll agitate. Let’s get to work.

Photograph from our time in Seattle. You guys, everyone's welcome at my metaphorical table.