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Short-Term Climate Activism

Activism is a good way to fight climate change in your own community. Keep in mind that there are two types of action, long-term and short-term. Short-term action is more local, like cleaning the creek or planting a community garden, and while it will make a difference, it will not make as big a difference as long-term action, which involves complaining to the government of your town, city or country or a company to have greener actions. Below are some of many ways to get your community started with short-term climate change activism.

Creek cleanup
Cleaning up a local creek is a great thing to consider! However, there are some things you need to assess beforehand:

  • If the site is part of a public park, be sure to get clearance from the park management, and if it's private, check with the owner.

  • Visit the site. What kind of trash is there? If there isn’t any, pick a different site. If there are a lot of hazardous materials or chemicals in the water, then maybe say so on the flyer.

  • How will you get rid of what you find? You, as the organizer, are the best person to take the trash to a dump/recycling center or salvage it, and you could request that people sort it at the site, but you will need to hire a truck to take it away.

  • Will the attendees bring their own gloves, trash grabbers, etc., or will you provide them? Trash grabbers are a good way not to handle the trash, and popular with children.


Planting a garden will help combat climate change. However, before you embark on it, there are some things to contemplate:

  • Where will you put the garden?? If you own the land, then great; if you don’t, then seek permission or otherwise you’ll be in a lot of trouble.

  • What will the garden be? Consider a native plant garden (to add native plants to your area—see our article on native plants), a pollinator garden (to benefit the local pollinators, and which should be a native plant garden to give pollinators what they need), a food garden (to grow food), or a grove of trees. However, plants that aren’t hardy will inevitably die, so you need to avoid that.

  • Who will care for the garden? You could, or one of your attendees could, but depending on the types of plant and the weather, the garden may need watering, weeding, pruning, or harvesting.

  • Will the attendees bring their own tools, or will you provide them?

Stuff swap
Swapping stuff with other people helps you save money and not need to buy new things while giving you an outlet for the old ones. When you organize a stuff-swap, consider the following:

  • Where will you organize it? A public place, or your house, would be best.

  • What will you swap? It might be best to specify a general category on the flyer so that people have an idea of what to expect (i.e., books, children's winter clothes, board games, appliances).

  • ORGANIZER POINT: Have a few tables at the ready for people to put their items on.

  • If no one wants things at the end of the day, consider donating them to charity or a thrift shop.


How to Get People Interested

Make a flyer. A sample flyer is attached here. Then, tack it up in public spaces where it won’t cause a problem and hope people will respond. Ideas are telephone poles and bulletin boards. With these flyers, it’s good to be specific, just so you don't invite a myriad of questions.

Alternatively, use social media to do the advertising. Just change the wording on the flyer a bit so that it uses full sentences and is easier to read. There, people can contact you, so you don’t have to be as specific as on paper.


Organizing a Great Event

At your event, there are several specifics that could result in the event being the best thing you’ve ever done, or the worst day of your life. For instance:

  1. Are children allowed? What about older children and teenagers? If you invite children’s adults and the children get bored, what will the children do? For certain creek-cleanup sites, were there is a safety risk, it’s worth not allowing children, but for other events, you’ll get more attendees if people can bring their children.

  2. As stated, specify whether people should bring their tools, or you’ll provide them.

  3. Will people want to bring food, or will you provide it? It’s a good idea, but sometimes not worth the hassle especially if the event starts shortly after breakfast and ends a bit before lunch or starts after lunch and ends before dinner. If physical activity is involved, tell people to bring water bottles.

However, if you check over these and are prepared to answer attendees’ questions, then you’re in for success.

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