Riding bicycles, recycling at home and switching to a meat-free diet are all great steps toward reducing your environmental impact on the planet – but they’re not enough to fight climate change.
A recent post on Grist.org reminds us that our personal lifestyle choices won’t balance out the already-staggering amounts of greenhouse gases emitted from poorly regulated industries and projects such as mountaintop removal, deforestation and tar sands production.
But there is one way to fight global warming, species extinction and any other environmental issue out there: increase your carbon-busting fistprint.
Two years ago, at an intimate gathering of 500+ students at Power Shift West 2009, Environment California director Bernadette del Chiaro said, “At the end of the day, it’s not about your carbon footprint – it’s about your carbon-busting fistprint! It’s not your lifestyle; it’s your life’s work [that matters].” (For those who don’t know, this quote inspired the CJL’s can-do attitude it proliferates to this day.)
To elaborate, reducing your carbon footprint is a reactive approach to addressing environmental issues, in that you are only reacting to the problem, not solving it directly. That’s where the carbon-busting fistprint comes in: it’s a proactive approach to addressing problems, through which the problem is dealt with head-on and ceases to be a problem any longer.
One of the best results of using your carbon-busting fistprint is its effect on other people. Say you tell your friends, for example, that you stopped drinking soda because it has cancer-causing agents. If your friends drinks soda, you run the risk of alienating and personally offending them because you’re indirectly criticizing their personal choices.
If, on the other hand, you take a stand against soda companies and campaign for healthier, cancer-free ingredients in their products, your friends will most likely thank you for advocating on their behalf – and hopefully be inspired to join you in the fight.
So go ahead: bicycle, recycle and eat your veggies – but remember to include a healthy dose of carbon-busting fistprint to your everyday routine. While individual actions may not add up to much, the cumulation of hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – of people taking the same carbon-busting actions could wield extraordinary results. Together, with our fights driven high in the air, we just might save the planet.
Monica Christoffels is the current Resources and Media Facilitator of the Cascade Climate Network and was one of the first members of the Climate Justice League.