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Let us be clear: global systemic change is what is most needed to stop climate change. But there are ways we can make an impact, whether it’s advocating for change, reducing our own consumption or continuing to learn about the climate crisis. 

What better way to reflect, learn, and find inspiration than with one of these books, movies or podcasts recommended by our Elevate Prize winners and our team? 

Books:

1. Less is More by Jason Hickel
A powerful call for balance and restoration, this disrupter book, recommended by EarthEnable Co-Founder, Gayatri Datar, is equal parts thought-provoking and inspiring. “The book explores fresh ways of thinking about our relationship with the world around us. It encourages a shift from seeing things in simple ‘us versus them’ terms to embracing a more interconnected view. It invites us to reconsider how we organize our economic systems, urging us to adopt a more integrated approach that acknowledges our connections with all living beings.” says Gayatri.  

2. We Are Water Protectors, written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade
Though We Are Water Protectors is written for children 3-6, we think it’s an incredible read at any age – in fact, it’s one of our Marketing Manager Danielle Wolfe’s all-time favorites! The book was written to raise awareness of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at The Standing Rock Reservation, and tells the story of a young Ojibwe child as she and her people try to protect their way of life from an oil pipeline, represented by a black snake. 

3. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg
We love this collection of speeches by climate activist Greta Thunberg given when she was just 17 years old during a year that started as a solo climate strike to a global movement. Her passion and conviction leap off the page, and inspire us to action – in the words of Greta, “We are the change, and the change is coming.” 

4. An Inconvenient Truth
An Inconvenient Truth was probably the documentary that left the biggest impression on me as a kid,” says Elevate Prize winner Sam Bencheghib, co-founder, Sungai Watch.  “I was only 10 years old when it came out in 2006 and it opened my eyes to the crazy world I was about to enter and how much work was needed to reverse the impacts of a rapidly changing climate.” A passionate plea for action, this film is a classic for a reason. If you haven’t seen it, make this Earth Month the time that you change that. Or check out An Inconvenient Sequel (2017), to learn more about progress being made towards renewable energy and the signing of the Paris Agreement. 

5. Before the Flood
Rachel Silverstein, Elevate Prize winner and Executive Director  of Miami Waterkeeper, recommends this powerful documentary, in which actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio travels the world to witness first-hand the impact of climate change.  

 “Leonardo DiCaprio interviewed me and my team about the impact of climate on corals, and later invited me to participate in a panel with him. He used his celebrity status to move the needle on nature and climate issues, setting an outstanding example to his substantial following.” 

6. WALL-E
The Pixar classic tells the story of a lonely robot, tasked with cleaning up a future, uninhabited earth, and reminds us of the importance of sustainability and stewardship.“This is the perfect movie to watch with your kids this month!” says Cara Politi, our Senior Community Manager. “My daughter and I love it!”

 

7. Our Planet
This breathtaking documentary series showcases the beauty of our planet’s ecosystems while also addressing the threats they face from human activity. It’s an important reminder to, in the words of narrator Sir David Attenborough, “Cherish the natural world, because you’re a part of it and you depend on it.”

8. The Joy Report
The Joy Report is dedicated to sharing stories about climate solutions and environmental justice grounded in intersectionality, which, in the words of host Arielle King “help us turn our feelings of climate doom and despair into climate optimism.” The podcast explains challenges and explores solutions that are already driving change, drawing in diverse thinking and voices. It always leaves us feeling calm, energized, inspired, and ready to do our part to help.”

9.Hey Change. A podcast to change the world
Looking for an optimistic climate change podcast? You’ve come to the right place. Co-hosts Anne Therese Gennari and Robin Shaw speak with scientists, experts and activists about the challenges we face, always focusing on the action we can take to overcome them.

10. Ramblings
Take a walk through the British countryside with presenter Clare Balding and her fascinating guests. We love how the program makes us feel like we’ve really been on a walk, experiencing nature, weather, and the conversations that people have on the trail. It’s a reminder of how the simple act of going outside for a stroll can have a spirit-lifting, perspective-changing impact. 

Special thanks to Sam Bencheghib, Co-Founder of Sungai Watch, Gayatri Datar, Co-Founder of EarthEnable,and Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director of Miami Waterkeeper for your wisdom and input!

How can we remain hopeful and optimistic when we consider the scale of the challenge that faces our planet? We asked that very question to some of our Elevate Prize winners, particularly around what are their favorite mottos to keep going.  

Not all crazy ideas are great but all great ideas are crazy!” is the motto of Sam Bencheghib, co-founder of Sungai Watch, an organization on a mission to protect and restore the world’s rivers by stopping the flow of plastic pollution from going into the oceans. 

“My motto keeps me on my toes and gets me thinking bigger,” says Sam, and the results are clear to see: his “crazy idea” of creating river barriers to trap plastics led to Sungai Watch community teams clearing an incredible 2,030,000 kg of trash from rivers in Bali in four short years!

For Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director of Miami Waterkeeper, an organization building clean water solutions where thriving communities and nature can coexist in Miami (the home of Elevate’s headquarters!), her motto is a reminder of the importance of perseverance. She keeps the words of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas top of mind: “Be a nuisance where it counts. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption, and bad politics – but never give up.”

“As environmentalists, it is hard to keep going in the face of loss,” Rachel says. “We don’t always get to win in the fight between Goliath and the underdog, but it is important to endure and to continue nagging for good. The stakes are far too high.” 

As a result of her determination and persistence, Miami Waterkeeper has helped to pass numerous ordinances, published multiple scientific papers and reports, and prevented 10,000,000 gallons of chemicals from being dumped in Florida’s waterways, and beyond!

EarthEnable co-founder, Gayatri Datar keeps a belief in the goodness of people at her core as she’s worked to develop natural, sustainable and healthy building materials – work that’s had an impact in over 150,000 households in Africa. “The essence of human nature is full of compassion and empathy for all beings and species,” she says. “While we’ve been misled by systems that create a sense of scarcity and separation, we can still get back to that essence.”

Keeping their mottos in mind prevents these leaders from being overwhelmed by the steps in the journey to achieving their goals. Instead, they stay positive and focus on what it will really take to save our planet – and how to drive paradigm-shifting change.

“We need to transition away from fossil fuel,” says Rachel. “We have to seize this opportunity to envision and materialize a thoughtful, resilient city of the future that harmonizes nature and our communities.” 

“Climate change imposes massive externalities on all of us that aren’t priced into the products and services we consume,” Gayatri notes. “A carbon tax that prices in these additional costs would be honest. It would enable green technologies to be cost-competitive against their high-carbon alternatives. Consumers wouldn’t be able to afford high-carbon products like cement, and would opt for low-carbon alternatives, which is fitting because our planet can’t afford for cement to be used in such high quantities either!”

“There are so many polluting industries that are not seeing enough policy change and enforcement,” notes Sam. “We need to ban the production and use of hard-to-recycle plastics for all packaging. Switching to a more sustainable type of packaging, would go a very long way in our fight against plastic pollution.” 

Global systemic change is what is most needed to stop climate change. But if we, like Sam, Rachel, and Gayatri, bring our tenacity, perseverance, ingenuity – and yes, perhaps a pinch of crazy and audacious – to the challenge, we can all make a difference. Our actions, both big and small, have a part to play in saving the planet. 

Here are some ways we can help. 

  • Demand change. – Use your voice to hold leaders accountable. Join a protest, call your representatives, and get involved in your community.
  • Focus on reducing your consumption. – Remember the order: first be sure to reduce, then reuse, THEN recycle if possible.
  • Roll up your sleeves. – Join Sungai Watch or Miami Waterkeeper in a river or beach clean up – or find a group in your community. 
  • Make an everyday switch. – Commit to using less plastic. Buy your food in bulk, carry a reusable bag, use a refillable water bottle, and choose brands that are more sustainable. (Sam suggests “Blueland for all home cleaning products, or Stasherbag to replace cling wrap.”) Or, take Gayatri’s advice: “Try a plant-based day of the week. Then 2. Then 3. Then 4. You get the gist!”