I continue to be inspired by the actions, forthrightness and courage of 16 year old Greta Thunberg. The climate activist’s influence has been seen in thousands of young people joining her ‘school strikes for climate’ around the world. I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say my life at 16 bared little similarity to Greta’s. In my 20s, I have magnitudes to learn from her. Although some of us will be called to be the ‘Greta’s of this world, the rest of us will inherit a calling to create change at the grassroots, in the places we are familiar. Both are just as important.
Over the past year, I’ve been looking at how I can create positive environmental change close to home. Here are my top five tips for initiating change in your sphere of influence.
1) Courageous conversations
One of the most effective ways of creating change is getting people ‘at the top’ on board for your vision. We’re now living in a time where the climate and ecological crisis is a widely accepted fact. So this opens up doors to get people on board who could have previously dismissed these issues. In my experience when people at the top are directly approached, they’re often willing to put time aside to discuss ideas of how they can implement eco-friendly changes.
Having courageous conversations with people in positions of power and influence (whether it’s your head teacher, university principle, church pastor or MP) can be daunting and nerve racking, but remember what you have to say is important, relevant and necessary.
2) You’re never too young to have a voice
Greta Thunberg is a prime example of how important it is to listen to the young. The current crisis we’re living in affects all of us, but impacts the young most. There is something exceptionally powerful about young people calling out the things that need to change.
3) The power of community
Climate demonstrations across the globe have shown that our voices are loudest when we unite together under a shared cause. This is the same on a micro level, and I have personally found a boldness and courage in going on this venture with others.
4) Be tenacious
Change doesn’t always come easily. Sometimes it will take endurance, patience and creativity. So don’t be discouraged if the change you hope to see takes time. Keep at it, try a new perspective, send another email, request another meeting. Keep going until the change you want starts to happen. And remember, it’s hard work to go it alone – cheer each other on and step in for each other to keep momentum going when you simply need a break.
5) Dream big, not small
Greta Thunberg could have chosen to take on a smaller mission than our world leaders. Whatever the burdens and hopes for change are on our own hearts, these will be unique and individual. But whatever these may be, I encourage you to dream big, go for it, and try again when you’re set back. Most importantly, when we dream big, let’s put God in the centre of the picture and bring our hopes and dreams to God in prayer. I am encouraged Paul’s instruction to, ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.’ (Ephesians 6:10)
The movement to tackle the climate and environmental crisis is building exciting momentum, and now is the time to act! Why not gather your friends to learn more about the issues at hand? Get a petition together, requesting a ban of single use plastics in your school. Or campaign for your university to be powered by 100% green energy. Or gather your church community to do a local litter pick. You can even join us on 26 June for a mass lobby at Westminster.
We would love to hear your stories of local change!