Deforestation! Climate change! Ocean acidification! Pollution! Endangered species extinction! The list of things to worry about in our environment seems endless and overwhelming. For a child, understanding of these issues can also lead to existential depression and feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. However, that need not be the case: even young children can get involved in environmental activism and make a difference in caring for our planet!
Secular homeschooling families have many opportunities to get involved in environmental activism. While there are dozens of checklists, how-to sites, and green living tips out there for small-scale actions, big change requires big actions.
The first step is getting informed. The internet is great, but to get a hands-on experience, go to your local parks. Go for a hike, and note the things you say (and pick up some litter!). Walk, bike, or take public transportation to your nearest science museum, and talk to the staff there. Explore your backyard, and use Project BudBurst to track seasonal changes in plants, CoCoRaHS to measure precipitation, and eBird to note bird migrations – all while becoming a citizen scientist and contributing to the body of knowledge used to track changes!
Secular Homeschooling, Environmental Activism, and Climate Change
Once you know your environment, learn about the problems it faces so you can be fully prepared for environmental activism. Is there a particularly polluted stream near you, or a logging project up for consideration? How is your city or state addressing air pollution and climate change? Some of the best ways to find out are the letters to the editor in your local newspaper; social media groups for your town; and talking to your local elected officials. Find out about local activist groups, and start going to meetings. Don’t worry about being too young – you’re there to learn and to protect your future. There may also be a chapter of the Sierra Club or Citizens’ Climate Lobby, among other groups.
Remember those elected officials? Talk to them and build relationships. Express your concerns through letters or emails (writing practice!), phone calls, meetings, and public hearings. If you can coordinate to attend hearings as part of a broader organization, even better. Those organizations don’t have to be environmental, either – get a group of friends together, invite your co-op, or bring your Girl Scout or Boy Scout troop! Getting other people involved is one of the most important actions you can take, because it shows elected leaders that popular opinion is on the side of environmental actions. If there is a process for citizens’ initiatives, you can even gather signatures to put environmental protection laws on the ballot!
If you’re more of the hands-on sort, attending restoration work parties is a great way to get involved. Invest in a good pair of gloves and shoes, and get messy pulling up invasive plants, picking up litter, planting trees, or repairing trails. You might be able to volunteer with a museum or other group to work on bigger projects, or help with their educational outreach programs. Visit your local recycling center and learn about what they can and can’t recycle, and then tell your family and friends.
Most importantly: Remember and use your youth. This is YOUR future you’re fighting for, so go out and be the change you wish to see in the world!
(Want to take classes with real life scientists, who will teach you everything from nature photography and Wild Weather, to chemistry and climate change, to how to Think Like a Scientist? Check out GHF Online’s offerings – registration is open now for Summer and Fall!)
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