With the 2020 election behind us in the United States now, it’s fair to ask “What now?”
It wasn’t the perfect victory environmentally-minded voters may have been hoping for, although there will be eco-advocates in the White House and in Congress. The Democrats control the House of Representatives and winning the Georgia run-offs next month would also take control from anti-environmentalist Mitch McConnell (you can donate here). So, there are plenty of advocates in place to push for significant environmental victories in 2021.
The work in front of us includes communicating and engaging with our local, state, and federal leaders. It’s the perfect time to let them know what is important to you, what you care about, and what action you want them to take. Whether it’s diversity, equity, climate action, education, healthcare — every issue is on the table.
And how do we make that actionable?
Participate in the Local, State and Federal Process
We have to reach out to our local, state, and federal leaders. These are the people that need to hear from us. All politics are local politics, so why not take personal action and get involved in the political process? Ensuring that the engine of our democracy runs smoothly means that we have to get more American’s involved in this step of the process. Understanding that all politics affect us on local levels and that we have to take action in our communities if we want to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We can do more to include black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). Not only are we dealing with a global health epidemic and an economy comparable to the Great Depression, but we’re also sitting in the middle of the biggest civil rights movement of our lifetime. While each event is cataclysmic in its own right, the accumulation of all three incidents has outlined an opportunity to reset policy, break-through long-standing stigmas, and re-structure societal norms for a more equitable nation.
From branding and storytelling to initiating dialogue, leaders agree that diversifying representation in the outdoors to include underrepresented groups can help us to address the environmental issues we face today.
Vote With Your Money
Just because the election is over doesn’t mean that voting has stopped. We all have the opportunity and the responsibility to vote with our dollars every single day with every single purchase that we make. By supporting the businesses that align with our values, we unlock the opportunity to initiate the change we want to see in our communities. Supporting small, local, and independent businesses is all the better. In fact, it can even be a stimulus to the local economy because the more we spend in our community and shop locally the more we are helping to employ our neighbors and members of our families. And when we all make purchases within our community, the majority of the money goes right back into supporting the local economy.
Do what you can to shop local first. Every dollar you spend locally will help keep open the doors of local businesses and support jobs in your community.
Climate Action Now
It’s time we move from discussions about climate change and move to climate action. I’m proud to have supported and been part of the Senate Democrats’ Committee on the Climate Crisis’s recent report. Take some time to read the report to learn more about how this plan will address climate change. There is a lot of ground to make up from the past four years but I believe we can energize our economy and protect our environment because of the momentum that we have coming out of this election and the leaders that we have in the House and the White House are ready to make it happen. But they’ll need us — the public and small businesses to work together.
Strong Ocean Policy
Let’s look at opportunities to promote and enact a good policy that protects the ocean. These plans do exist, like the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act and the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act. As these policies are being crafted, now is the time to understand them and weigh in to make them better. Enacting good policy is about investing in tomorrow and by not taking action now, we do ourselves a disservice if we allow today’s divisiveness to prevent us from investing in the future.
If we don’t engage and support the creation of good policy, you can be sure that someone else will step in and that also means that we risk giving up an instrumental tool for future change. One small step you can take right now is to sign the petition for an Ocean Climate Action Plan; you’ll receive updates when the time comes to call on your elected representatives for key votes.
Participate in the 2022 Mid-Terms
This election is over and it’s probably tough to even think about another election at this point,, but in two years we will all be back to the polls for the midterms. The midterms will either draw out the challenges we face or bring us the opportunity to accelerate the actions needed for our economy and our planet. We must choose wisely. We need to elect more leaders that will fight for both climate action and our economy.
We have oceans and rivers to protect and a bright blue economy to build. Let’s get to work!