At the end of Paul Hawken’s Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, he outlines four concrete action and connection ideas to help us answer the questions of where to start and how to make a difference. The climate crisis is no longer a far off concept. Every day we are waking up to a new problem that our collective impact on the earth has created. The good news attached to the fact that we have created the situation is that we have, in our power, the ability to end it.

The first such suggestion is a climate checklist. According to Hawken, checklists “help guide our endeavors, from farms to finance, cities to clothing, groceries to grasslands, and are applicable to every level of activity.” With the fundamental principle of regeneration as its basis, here is the checklist of questions to ask ourselves prior to taking any action. They are yes/no questions, but even if we can only answer in the negative (toward the climate) at the current time, that answer can guide us in a direction in which we can answer in the affirmative in the future.

  1. Does the action create more life or reduce it?
  2. Does it heal the future or steal the future?
  3. Does it enhance human well-being or diminish it?
  4. Does it prevent disease or profit from it?
  5. Does it create livelihoods or eliminate them?
  6. Does it restore land or degrade it?
  7. Does it increase global warming or decrease it?
  8. Does it serve human needs or manufacture human wants?
  9. Does it reduce poverty or expand it?
  10. Does it promote fundamental human rights or deny them?
  11. Does it provide workers with dignity or demean them?
  12. In short, is the activity extractive or regenerative?

You can apply these questions to any action that you are considering. Let’s take #10 for example. You are in Costco and you are presented with two large bags of coffee beans. One costs less, but the coffee is grown and extracted conventionally with no mention of how the beans are procured. The second bag is a couple of dollars more, but you see that it is grown organically in shade and it is produced with fair trade principles. If you choose to purchase the second option, you can answer that your purchase promotes fundamental human rights because it is being brought to you through fair trade avenues. 

We challenge you to give this checklist a try. You may want to start small and choose one question that you apply to all of your actions or purchases. Alternatively, you may want to apply all the questions to one action that you take each week. You choose how to use them. There is no absolute correct way to go about it. You could even partner with someone or a group to challenge and learn from each other as you go through the process. Make it fun!

In coming weeks, we will provide you with a few other action and connection items to keep you inspired. Here’s to making a difference!