Online climate activism is a way to fight for change no matter who you are, where you are or how much money you have. Research has found that online activism can deliver a temporary shock to organisational elites, create collective action and amplify the conditions for movements to form. It’s also a great way to feel like you’re doing something positive in this time of crisis.
I’ve divided this online climate activism action list up into activities that are completely free and those that allow you to put your money where your mouth is.
Ready, set, make a difference:
Write to your elected representatives (free)
While many of us demand online that our wider governments do more to stop the climate emergency, we often forget to tell our local representatives. These are the very people we elect to voice our opinions in government.
What to do:
- Firstly, search online for the best way to contact your local area’s representatives. Usually, you can do this via their website, via email or there may be an address to post a letter.
- Draft a short, structured and compelling letter. Begin by mentioning that you are a constituent (voter). Cite research conducted by your government into the effects of climate change. Avoid being too emotive or rude. Include a personal touch such a story or anecdote about how climate change has tangibly touched your life; this could be through extreme weather, droughts, bushfires, air pollution etc.
- Edit, proofread and get your writing piece as succinct as possible. Finish by asking for your local representative to write back detailing what action they are going to take.
Email businesses who aren’t acting sustainably (free)
Do you get frustrated seeing excess plastic being used in supermarkets or unsustainably cheap clothing items for sale? Then channel your anger to the companies profiting from these environmentally-destructive behaviours.
What to do:
- Pick a business or brand that you have seen behave unsustainably. This could be through excess single-use plastic, using palm oil or selling animal products from deforestation hotspots.
- Search online for their contact page and find a feedback form or email address.
- Lastly, Compose a short response detailing what unsustainable practice they are committing and the detrimental effects it has on the planet. Also, suggest solutions that exist and point out other businesses that have already put them in place.
BONUS: Take to social media and @ the company’s profile, preferably with a photo, and point out their unsustainable practices. Ask for action and meaningful change.
Contact businesses who are acting sustainably (free)
Credit where credit is due. If you have seen a business has changed an unsustainable behaviour for something that’s more environmentally-friendly, tell them you’ve noticed. For example, I recently emailed my local grocery chain to congratulate them on switching from plastic bags to paper bags with a cost. While you’re complimenting, you can also point out what their next sustainable step should be.
However, make sure you’re not falling for greenwashing. Compostable single-use packaging isn’t a sustainable step if a widespread composting system isn’t in place. Meanwhile, unethically-made clothing isn’t better just because it’s made from recycled plastic.
Share, like and comment on eco-focused groups and individuals (free)
Every time you share, like and comment on content, it gives more people the chance to be impacted by it. That’s because this allows important messages to spread and more people to become educated. If it’s all you’ve got time for, online climate activism can mean sharing a post, tagging a friend or liking a picture. No action is too small.
What to do:
- Firstly, like and comment on three of your favourite Instagram account’s latest posts.
- Share the latest video from your favourite YouTube channel on Facebook and/or Twitter.
- After that, leave a review on your favourite Podcast on iTunes.
BONUS: Don’t skip the ads on your favourite YouTubers and content creators. This also goes for ad blockers because creators only get paid (albeit a minuscule amount) if you watch it!
Sign or start a petition (free)
Petitioning is a strong way to recruit people to a cause in the digital age. While petitions themselves might not always cause change, they can garner media attention and apply pressure.
What to do:
- First, go to a petition website such as Change.org, thepetitionsite.com or your federal government’s petition website.
- Next, search for keywords such as climate change, fossil fuels and global warming.
- Read the petition carefully. If you agree with what the petitioner is calling for, sign and share it.
Donate to environmental groups and charities (small cost)
If you’re able to afford it, make a donation to your favourite organisations. For example, groups trying to stop deforestation like the Rainforest Action Network, organisations like Plastic Oceans who are inspiring people to rethink plastic or OG activists like Greenpeace. Spare whatever you can to help them fight the good fight.
Buy from small sustainable businesses (small cost)
Lastly, vote with your dollars. Buy less, buy quality and buy from a transparent business that is making the world a better place – not polluting and exploiting it for profits.
It’s easy to feel discouraged and powerless when it comes to the fight against global warming, plastic pollution and the lack of sustainability. Luckily, online climate activism is a way to educate more people about the climate crisis while demanding action from elected officials and business leaders.