With COP26 now over, and climate change very much the hot topic, Sophie Tait, of Trash Plastic and Mothership, got in touch to write a powerful and timely follow-up to her 2019 list, to offer some hope in amongst the bleakness.
You’re not alone if you sometimes feel helpless or overwhelmed by this massive problem (I definitely do), but taking action is empowering, however big or small. And alongside the huge political decisions, we all have a part to play in making this planet a better place to live.
It’s the penultimate day of COP26, the global climate change summit taking place in Glasgow.
As things stand today, the chance of it being the real breakthrough the planet needs is looking slim*. It’s tempting (I’m tempted) in moments like this to give in to the doom. But there is simply too much at stake to give up and stop trying.
If, like me, you’re feeling anything from mild anxiety to full existential dread, here are 50 (yes, FIFTY!) POSITIVE** things to cling on to:
1. This is not – as the headlines keep saying – ‘the last chance to save the world’. We are just getting started. Buckle up 🙂
2. The aftermath of COP26 was always going to be more important than the summit itself. Whether the outcome is a hit, miss or nearly, what happens now and next is what actually matters. It’s really not over!
3. Maybe this is the wake-up call we needed? It might feel like the ground is unstable but we’ll re-find our feet.
4. Getting out of my head and into my body helps. I’ve just danced (well, sort of stomped) in the kitchen to this, three times on repeat. Oooof! That’s made this ancient raver feel a LOT better.
5. What a time to be alive! Seriously though. What a time to be ALIVE! There’s nothing like an existential crisis to make me feel supremely grateful for all that I have. I’m hugging my children extra close this week.
6. Resistance is everywhere. I can smell it in the air, I can feel it on the streets, and I can see it in the faces of people wherever I go. There is a bold determination like never before.
7. Change is everywhere too. Open the papers, scan the shelves, listen to the chatter. Tune in to the transformation (but try to tune out the greenwashing). From grassroots enterprises to boardroom takeovers, it’s coming. But it might be a bit messy.
8. Never underestimate the amazingness of humans to do incredible things. We’ve just lived through the most insane two years, where we had to change EVERYTHING overnight. Who’d have thought it?! We can do it again – and much more.
9. There is now a groundswell of support for action. The latest YouGov tracker shows that the UK’s ‘climate concern’ is at the highest level ever. What was a ‘fringe issue’ is now centre stage and politicians and businesses ignore that at their own peril.
10. Even The Sun and co are finally covering climate change in a serious (ish) way. I’m side-eying their skepticism over the costs of the transition (code for delay or inaction), but at least there is an acceptance of the severity of the crisis.
11. We are citizens, not consumers. Our actions are all the ways we show up in this world. What we think, say, write, feel, do, support, buy (whatever) are all votes for the kind of future we want.
12. Doing the right thing feels good, in a warm-fuzzy-non-smug kind of way. I’m on the right side of history and I’m relieved I won’t have to look back with regret that I could/should have done more.
13. The social stigma of being on the wrong side of history is going to get stronger and stronger. Those with the power to actually fix this, need to realise that doing the wrong thing won’t be tolerated for much longer.
14. Things are only impossible until they are not. Moon landings, Covid vaccines. Ending our reliance on fossil fuels? It’s coming.
15. It’s okay to feel angry, or sad or anything else. Tears, shouting, punching cushions, making voodoo dolls of Boris. It’s a perfectly rational response to a faltering planet. And it helps.
16. I’ve fallen in love with a gentler way of living. There is so much unexpected joy to be found when you’re open to doing things differently.
17. Welcome feelings – in all flavours – as they are powerful motivators. They are our lightning rods and our rocket fuel and our north stars. Let’s use them wisely!
18. I am reassured to be part of an extraordinary ecosystem of supportive people and organisations working together to fix this. A movement of movements, growing bigger each day.
19. Individuals CAN make a difference. Afterall it is just a handful of individuals within corporations and governments that stand in the way, so let’s figure out how to push them over and out. Billions of us versus a handful of billionaires? Bah. We got this.
20. I ALWAYS feel better when I spend time in nature, freeingly aware of my smallness in the bigness of things.
21. I am glad that I let myself feel this. Each crack in my heart lets in more love. This crisis has woken me up to the beauty and wonder of the world like never before.
22. I would do anything within my power to ensure there is a liveable planet for my children.
23. I have met some of the most amazing women through this work. My heroes. My people. (You know who you are – thank you)
24. The time is ripe for a different form of activism – a mass movement that becomes too big and too noisy to fail. Where brave souls have paved the way with radical (and controversial) actions, there is a wide open space for the rest of us to fill up with more mainstream resistance.
25. Action is the antidote to despair. Never has a cliché been more true. There is so much comfort in the doing.
26. I don’t have to do it all. We all have different pickaxes and different ways to chip away at the problem.
27. We are all crew. Everyone is needed. Everyone is welcome. Whatever your passion, whatever your skills and resources, this next decade needs anyone and everyone to do anything. But those with the most privilege need to do the heaviest lifting.
28. There is more to this than reducing emissions. This is about visioning and dreaming up new worlds. Our imaginations need to go into overdrive. The story of humanity deserves a more beautiful ending than the one the news would have us believe.
29. Eating more plants is not just delicious. It’s better for us, our wallets, the planet and, um, the animals. Like so many of the solutions, it’s a win-win-win-win.
30. The youth climate movement is a tour-de-force. These extraordinary young people are bringing an accept-no-bullshit energy to this moment that should be an inspiration to us all. It is NOT their job to fix this but I am humbled that they have found this uncompromising confidence to hold the rest of us to account.
31. When things feel out of control, take control of the small stuff. Plant flowers for bees, fill up the bird feeder, bake vegan cookies for friends.
32. If hyper-individualism is the root of the problem, then collaboration and community is where we need to go next. Togetherness is the answer. How lovely is that?!
33. Is the tumbleweed finally drifting? Talking is power. Let’s start conversations and make it as normal to talk about climate change as Love Island. We can figure this out over water coolers, school gates, garden walls and large glasses of wine.
34. Mothers have magical kid-protecting superpowers. We just need to channel them to plot, plan and mobilise. Right here, right now.
35. I will not point fingers at anyone other than the Government and corporations that hold them to ransom. Repeat. I will not point fingers at anyone other than the Government and the corporations that hold them to ransom. This is not our fault.
36. It is becoming normal, even – dare I say it – desirable to live in a less harmful way. Whether it’s plant-based eating, pre-loved clothes, or holidays in Cornwall, it feels like so many of us are realising that the way we’re going to have to live in the future might actually be BETTER than the old ways that we’ve clung on to for so long.
37. Fuck you Jeff Bezos and your penis shaped rocket. The rest of us don’t need to go into space to see how fragile our home is. We can just look out of the window. (not positive but it felt good to say it) #BoycottAmazon
38. When folk describe the big feelings about climate change as grief, I don’t feel it quite that way. If grief is ‘love with nowhere to go’, then ‘climate grief is love with EVERYWHERE to go’.
39. Mother nature knows best. Leave her alone and magic will happen, or ask her a question and prepare to have your mind blown by the answer!
40. Climate denial is pretty much dead. RIP. (but watch out for this new breed of climate delayers)
41. Individual changes DO matter. Our choices are clues that we are ready to welcome the systemic changes the government must bring in. Until we show we are willing to behave differently, they will consider it political suicide to do what is right. A chicken and egg situation we must help crack.
42. My cats are the best teachers when it comes to taking a break from all this.
43. Renewable energy is now cheaper than coal. At some point even those who just want to make money will abandon those dirty fossil giants.
44. It’s never been easier to boycott the worst offenders. The most powerful message we can send is via our banks. We must transfer whatever wealth we have out of the funding of fossil fuels in our names. If you bank with Barclays or HSBC, do this today!
45. This is a democracy (just about). If this Government is not going to save us, we can (and must) vote them out.
46. We have all the solutions. We have all the money. Repeat. We have all the solutions. We have all the money. It’s just a matter of political will and together we can break that.
47. It’s not an either/or thing. It’s and/both. We don’t have to choose between living a good life and healing the planet. There is a path through this where we can solve so many societal problems AT THE SAME TIME as solving the climate crisis. This is a one-hundred-percent-win/win situation.
48. We must not feel guilty. This is not our fault. We did not cause this and it is not up to us to clean up this mess by ourselves. But we do have a responsibility to all the world’s children to do whatever we can to proactively participate in this tricky transition.
49. WE must be alive in THIS moment for a reason. One common goal, thousands of solutions, millions of activists, billions of us. I have faith that we are the people we need.
50. Our future is not yet decided. Repeat, repeat, repeat…..
*really hoping that I’m wrong and there was a massive breakthrough.
**there is a ‘yeah, but…’ to many of these, but that is for a different day and a different mood.
* Sophie Tait (AKA @trashplastic) is a creative strategist and climate activist. She’s the creator of Trash Plastic and a strategic consultant at Mothership, a new climate movement for mums. She is about to launch a new venture about joy!
** ‘But why are humans ruining the planet?’ ‘But why do people die and are they just sleeping?’ and “But why do adults drink beer and what does it do?’ are some of the tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to order now and also on audiobook.**
FANCY SOME MORE?
READ Sophie Tait’s previous list Climate Change: The Mother of All Problems about how she started to live more sustainably and set a goal to use 80 per cent less plastic.
READ Switching to Reusable Period Products by Keira O’Mara, who explains exactly why disposable products are so awful and how switching over was much easier than she thought.
LISTEN to Sophie talk Environmentalism on Honestly podcast as she shares her journey into activism and why we all need to act now.
LISTEN to Immy Lucas on But Why? podcast talk Sustainability and conscious living and how these two topics can sometimes be divisive.
OR HOW ABOUT WRITING A LIST?
Find submission guidelines here. All writers and topics are welcome.