Your Voice, For Your World

by Paige Taylor

The year is 2020 and it is the 10th August. The sun is shining high and everyone is outside

lolling in the sunshine with their loved ones. There are laughs, smiles and a lazy atmosphere of relaxation. They are breathing in the late summer air infected with 152 million tonnes of pollution, spewed into the atmosphere every day. Enjoying picnics and take-aways amidst the reality that 736 million people live in absolute poverty and one third of the world’s food is wasted each year. People flock to the seaside to enjoy the beach as sea levels rise by 3mm each year causing floods and cyclones. Searching for a better spot to enjoy the weather is a privilege when 24.9 million climate refugees have been displaced due to devastation.

These are the facts I have found myself considering as lockdown eases in the UK. I too have been enjoying the warm weather and the opportunity to venture out of my basement flat. So please do not mistake these urgent statistics as criticism of people’s behaviour. These scorching summers are yet another reminder of Mother Earth's rising temperatures, but there is no harm in enjoying what we can - right?

' what way can I leave a positive imprint upon the world and minimise my impact on climate change? The answer I have come up with is simple: conversation.'

Definitely not! I am eternally grateful for the liberty of enjoying a safe, some-what clean environment, and it is a privilege to do so ‘care-free’. The more I read into the climate crisis, the more my heart aches for the families torn apart from climate change, the polar bears on tiny blocks of ice separated from their young and the millions of people affected by toxic colonialism. It is easy to fall down the rabbit hole of climate anxiety, making me frantically reconsider whether my lifestyle is sustainable. I can make individual changes and buy metal straws, eat a plant-based diet and pick up litter on the side of the road, but these efforts feel futile. I spent time deliberating the question: in what way can I leave a positive imprint upon the world and minimise my impact on climate change? The answer I have come up with is simple: conversation. Why? Because the cost of your words is priceless.The climate crisis can feel like a distant entity when observed on the TV news or scrolling through social media, but the effects are being felt even here in our safe Western world. But for us to connect with the scary statistics above and take action we need to consider them. Talk about them. Imagine our loved ones in those positions. Conversation is education, and climate conversation needs to be fuelled with empathy, sensitivity and urgency. There is a fine balance between scare-mongering with statistics and inciting change, and I believe the key is an open-mind, honesty and discussion of solutions.

'The neoliberalist forces at work will have us believe that this change is down to the lonely individual rather than institutions.'

What is often lost in Climate discussions are the massive leaps and bounds we have taken as a collective to improve our environmental impact already! It is a hot topic that Renewable Energy would be the most effective transition to slow down global warming. In 2000 wind energy was predicted to supply 30 gigawatts of electricity worldwide by 2010. As of 2019 that prediction had been exceeded by 22x with roughly 660 gigawatts of wind-power utilised. Similar success has been seen in the solar industry. In 2002 the solar energy market was predicted to grow one gigawatt every year. In reality exponential growth was felt within the solar industry and now 583.5 gigawatts of energy is supplied worldwide by solar panels. There are many more huge sustainable movements that have happened in recent years, including a numerous amount of strikes, and they are all down to us. As humans we are an incredible, sensitive, passionate race with so much potential to come together and create change. The neoliberalist forces at work will have us believe that this change is down to the lonely individual rather than institutions. But what they do not count on is us coming together and raising our voices to call for revolution. In the case of renewable energy, the more consumer pressure that is felt for an alternative to burning fuel, the more likely providers are to offer us what we are willing to pay for. As they say - money makes the world go round, and as a consumer you have the power to choose sustainable options, when your budget permits it. As well as making considerate choices as a consumer, we can also call for action when combatting several issues from fast-fashion to wasteful practices to getting climate refugees the legal status they deserve. This is why I set up For Your World.

I took part in Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps training with over 15,000 others in July. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with people of all backgrounds from all over the world and hear their thoughts on the climate crisis. It was a truly beautiful experience to sit on a Zoom call with people of all ages from places such as Pakistan, Jakarta, Greece and Canada, and discuss our hopes for what our collective futures will look like and how we can get there. I learnt so much about what the climate crisis looked like in other countries, and the great initiatives that others were taking in their local community. I felt empowered and no longer questioned whether simply talking about climate change would do any good. I was inspired to take action and from this, For Your World was born.

'I wanted to take scary facts and break them down into something more understandable...'

I describe For Your World as a ‘climate change’ discussion platform; starting off on Instagram it has since spread to other social media platforms and even has a little website. I wanted to take scary facts and break them down into something more understandable that people could comprehend. I write short transcripts about a range of topics with the intent of educating and starting discussion. So far I’ve looked at the Amazon rainforest, the coffee crisis and plastic pollution. I also wanted to share others' work on this channel. I alone do not have all the answers nor the information, and there is an abundance of others utilising their channels for climate change discussion - my personal favourites being Earth Rise and Chicks For Climate. In my excitement at becoming a qualified Climate Reality Leader I decided to do something momentous to mark the occasion of becoming an active citizen. I wanted to host an online climate strike. I challenged myself to message over a hundred organisations with this cause to try and get their support. I set up a small theatre project with monologues from all around the world to combat deforestation with our own grove of trees. I have tirelessly worked to gain a schedule of speakers for the strike. All in the effort to make a statement that climate change is still here and emphasise how conversation is a way of making change and combatting this crisis.

There is beauty in disruption and our lives are ever-increasingly occupied online. With lockdown restrictions, an online strike seemed sensible and then kind of brilliant, because people from all over the world will have the opportunity to join in and make a statement. The premise of the strike is that throughout the day of 29/08/20, those who care about the climate will post a photo to social media with the hashtag #fywclimatestrike. In the description should be a sentence of why they care about the climate crisis and a pledge to make one sustainable change for the sake of the planet.

The strike itself will focus on food waste, fashion waste and time-wasting - because I decided that these three issues were the most pressing. Food waste was selected as an option as I found it the most accessible for instant change. Buying from reduced sections in supermarkets, using coffee grounds as fertiliser or getting a food waste bin were all affordable options that combat the huge amount of food wasted across the world.

Fashion waste was selected since over lockdown we heard the tirade of articles about fast fashion ‘workers’ forced to continue with business as usual. But I found good news as well about scientific progress in growing naturally coloured cotton and the use of Hemp as a natural resource in alpine clothing. Lastly, time-wasting was more of a general topic. A chance for people to reflect on what changes they have been meaning to make - Meat-Free Mondays, investing in a bike or educating themselves on solar energy. It offers a chance for people to get creative with their pledge and make a difference in an area they really care about. For Your World will be sharing educational posts about food and fashion waste and informational posts on how to stop wasting time and contact those in power to demand change. There will be a schedule of talks over different mediums throughout the day and the strike will culminate in an online theatre piece.

'In my mind I’m picturing 1,000 people striking online... and climate action dominating our screens for one day.'

In my mind I’m picturing 1,000 people striking online, with global talks and a community of excitement and climate action dominating our screens for one day. But I’m a girl that dreams big. In reality I’m proud of what has been achieved already. Every post, like and follow has come from my one voice. So I cannot wait to see what can happen when others raise their voices as well on the day of the strike. Any amount of people that join in will mean the world to me. I want people to see others sharing their strikes and feel empowered to live in a society of support. At the end of the day, all you need to do is raise Your Voice, For Your World.

Paige Taylor is a Bristol based creative. Having graduated from the University of Bristol with BA Theatre and Performance Studies, she is now wrapping up her MSc in Events Management. A self-proclaimed feminist, climate activist and humanitarian; she is on a mission to make the world that little bit better. Paige enjoys climbing and hiking whilst she waits for her big break into the third sector.