Monday, May 25, 2009

Tools for campaigers - Action ideas

otesha, poznan, unfccc

Want to get up and do something that matters, but could use a little help getting started? Never fear - we're here to help.

Campaigning resources


Global Issues, Local Impacts (PDF)
This is the presentation to pull out when someone says 'Why do you care about all this social and environmental stuff anyway?'. It covers the main 8 Otesha themes (food, fashion, money, trade, transport, energy, media and water) and is guaranteed to hold peoples' attention, what with the bright colours and nice photos and all. We find that sometimes it's best to run through just 2 or 3 issues at a time, stopping for lots of discussion as you go along.

The Great Otesha Climate Change & Poverty Quiz (PDF)
This presentation focuses on two of the big underlying challenges that we hope to make better by re-thinking our day-to-day choices: climate change and poverty. We know these big issues can be scary, so this presentation helps introduce the issues to others in an accessible, non-intimidating way.

The Otesha 5 minute lifestyle check-up (PDF)
This short inventory and action pla encourages people to take a look at their day-to-day banking, eating and transport habits, and then get some quick and easy ideas for how to green them up. If you want to encourage people to make small changes in a positive way, this is a good place to start. The sheet works best if you can guide people through the questions and then make them a personal action plan by checking the boxes of the actions that most relate to their lives, but people can also go through the questions on their own. We designed this for 14-18 year olds, but it should work with other age groups too. If you use it, let us know how you get on!

Group functioning & communications

NVC: Our guide to non-violent communication
Jo and Liz took an NVC workshop at the European Social Forum and learnt a ton. We've tried to share as many nuggets of widsom as possible here, although we're definitely not experts in this area!

Tips for White Guys
These tips remind us that working to uncover hidden power structures in society is really central to the work we're doing, because issues around environmental justice, social justice, and equity are completely interconnected. As the tips say, none of us are free until all of us are free. And no, they're not just for white guys - they're relevant for most of the rest of us too.

Holding Meetings (word doc)
Thanks to our friends at Otesha Canada, we've got a fantastic guide to facilitating meetings and making group decisions using a consensus model. If you're part of a group, any group, this is a highly recommended read.

The art of getting stuff done

Tips for campaigners (PDF) This one's a simple sheet that you can read in 5 minutes.

And coming soon...
-Tips on how to set up and run a project
-More about group functioning and communications

More action ideas

Be the Change

If you're looking for inspiration, here are a bunch of things you can get on with right now.

Some will make a small difference & some will make a big one. Whatever thing you decide to do, you're in good company. Thousands of people are already part of this revolution - deciding to actually do something instead of just sitting around talking about it. Together, our impacts really do add up.

But beware: completing items on this list has been known to produce feelings of euphoria, hopefulness and self-satisfaction. So if you're cynical and apathetic and would like to stay that way, you should probably stop right here.

To get started, just choose a theme:

water | fashion | food | media | fair trade | transport | energy | money

Or visit our bonus recycling theme here


We use most of our water showering, bathing and flushing the toilet. This means that following just the first three ideas here will make a huge difference to the amount of water you use each day.

  • Get a hippo for your loo. If you live in London or southeast England, you can get a free hippo for your toilet from Thames Water and save 3 litres of water each time you flush. If you're in Scotland, Scottish Water will give you a free save-a-flush. If you live somewhere else, you can make your own toilet dam really easily by filling up a large jar with a heavy rock and some water, then sealing the lid tightly and dropping it in the back of your toilet (making sure not to block any of the moving parts inside). Or, if you've got one lying around, use a brick instead.
  • Suds up responsibly. Install a low-flo showerhead & aim to cut your showering time in half (each minute uses 11 - 20 litres of water!). If you take baths, switch to showers and take that long deserving soak only when you really need it.
  • Take staggered showers. While you're soaping up, turn off the tap. Then turn it back on to rinse off. You can even find showerheads with shut-off valves that make this really easy.
  • Learn about your bottled water.
  • Implement other water-saving devices, like highly efficient dishwashers, low-water use washing machines, and water butts for your garden.
  • Let the yellow mellow. If your housemates or family don't mind, try not flushing every single time you pee (especially in the middle of the night!)
  • Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. This one's so easy that we can ALL do it today.
  • To do even more, follow these tips for saving water.


Luckily, there are a ton of options for people who don't want to support sweatshop labour, pesticides and the unnecessary waste from so much - literally - material stuff.


Every food choice of every day gives opportunities to make yourself and the planet just a little healthier. Here are a few places to start:


Mass media, advertising and consumer culture permeate everything we do. Even so, there are some pretty simple things we can all do to help get corporate agendas and the things they want us to buy out of our media. For example:

Fair trade

It's ridiculously easy to do something about this one. Check out the Fairtrade Foundation website to learn more about the issues surrounding fair trade, the types of products that now come with Fairtrade certification (flowers! spices! footballs!) and where you can find fairly traded products.

Home energy use

Okay, so we've probably heard most of these tips before, but it's still good to be reminded every so often. Here are some quick things we can all do to cut our energy consumption and fight the serious threat of climate change:

  • Become a guerrilla energy-saver. When others aren't looking, covertly turn appliances off standby, turn out lights and turn down the thermostat one degree. Chances are, no one will even notice.
  • Conserve heating. In the winter, put on a jumper or cuddle with a friend to keep warm instead of turning up the heat.
  • Be efficient. Buy energy efficient appliances and lightbulbs
  • Get political. Write Gordon Brown to ask him to get tough on climate change (this takes you to the icount website, where you'll have to quickly login to continue)


Here are a few interesting ways to change the way we collect, spent and save our pounds:

  • Barter with your friends. Instead of spending money on things like haircuts, books and massages, find people with those skills and trade for services that you can offer. Your German or knitting know-how will never come in more handy!
  • Freecycle. Find a group in your area and trade away.
  • Put your money somewhere ethical. Bank with a co-operative or credit union instead of a high street bank.
  • Free yourself from debt! Cut up that credit card or storecard, and stop consuming more than you earn. If you have to have a credit card, choose one that gives a percentage of profits to a good cause, like the Oxfam Visa card.
  • Save resources. Call up your bank and ask to get paperless statements (make sure you're set up with internet banking first!)
  • Be an informed consumer. When you buy something, make sure that you know what your pound is voting for.


There are many alternatives to sitting in traffic, breathing in exhaust fumes. Here are a few:

And a small note about waste

Okay, so maybe you're on a roll. Or maybe you've already done everything on this list and are looking for a challenge. In either case, here are a few waste-reducing actions you can take every single day. Think about these as the new and improved "3-Rs":

  • Rethink: Do I need this?
  • Refuse: "No, I don't need a bag (I brought my own)."
  • Restore: Try to fix things instead of just throwing them out.
  • Reduce: Get library books instead of buying new ones, and buy vintage clothes instead of new gear. If you're a woman, you can also reduce your waste by buying yourself a keeper, mooncup or luna pads.
  • Reuse: Scrap paper, lunch containers, etc.
  • Compost: It's like reusing food.
  • Then, only when you've exhausted all the other options: Recycle!

Want to do more? There are heaps of other action ideas in the Otesha Book, which you can download for free on the Otesha Canada website.