100 Ways to be an Activist

Honestly, you don't always have time to save every part of the world always. Going into university next week means I have even less time then usual in preparation for the things to come, and it's really forced me to think about what I want to actually do with my life. The word 'active' is in activism, yet it seems to be a part that people forget about. Our best intentions are only as good as the effort we put into making them a reality, but sometimes it can be hard to take these dreams to the real world if we don't know where to start.

Well, there are 100 ways...

1) Find a cause that truly matters to you, so that you can literally feel the passion running through your body as you hear about it and your eyes almost well up and you begin to think of the injustice behind it. Embrace the power you have as a human to care and concentrate it into causes that truly matter to you.
2) Donate money to cause above. It's basic, but always required.
3) Cut your hair for cancer. I did it, and it makes you feel great knowing that if you ever get another bad hair cut again you can just cut it short because been there done that! Oh AND you get to know you just made a cancer patient's life a lot easier... kind of a big deal.
4) Start your own chapter or club at school and hold meetings to promote, discuss, and take actions on your cause.
5) Participate in someone else's club. We're not all leader. HOWEVER, this does not excuse apathy or a lack of effort. You know if you're lying to yourself about 4).
6) Pick up litter. Not only does it hurt animals, it hurts us. It hurts the food we grow, the water we drink, and the world we live in. Bring gloves and a plastic bag.
7) Read a variety of media to keep up to date on current issues. You can't change something if you don't know it's happening.
8) Podcasts about social change are a quick and easy way to get information on the go, and by subscribing you're encouraging the actions of the people involved in producing them!
9) Set aside your latest buy and blog about something that means something to you every now and then. Reach out to your readership and encourage them to care too.
10) Donate sneakers to Unicef and make someone's long walk much easier.
12) Donate business clothes to Dress for Success to help a woman get back on her feet.
13) Donate everything else to Value Village.
14) Recycle!
15) But try to repair it first. It's better to fix something than to throw it away, even if it's a more ethical way to toss it!
16) Composting your food turns it into food for Mother Nature.
17) Using public transit saves road space and emissions, two things we're always making more of at the expense of the planet.
18) Answer surveys! Someone is asking you for your opinion. GIVE IT TO THEM!
19) Surveys also usually have a 'more?' box for your comments, and make sure to tell them more! Politicians come to your door to get youth to vote, so tell them what it will take. People want you to like their product, so you just have to set the terms around your goals and what you'd like to see them do for your cause.
20) Buy things from bake sales. We've all been there.

21) Buy products that use waste minimal and more efficient packaging.
22) Question everything. Is something eco friendly if its shipped from China? it may be organic, but that's a lot of gas to get it over...
23) Buy local produce. Help local farmers.
24) Eat in season.
25) Get to know your local farms. They're not the same as the big scar factory ones you see on PETA commercials.
26) Plant carrots or tomatoes or some other thing that apparently anyone can grow.
27) Plant a tree.
28) Play games with children: check out Big Brothers Big Sisters.
29) Read books to the elderly.
30) Learn the names of the major politicians in your city, province, country...
31) Learn the names of key global politicians who are relevant to news today.
32) Vote. God.
33) Vote. Seriously. Even if you don't like anyone. Spoil your value if you have to. Just let them know you care and you're unimpressed.
34) Tell other people to vote.
35) Fight for other people to vote.
36) Make pamphlets about anything.
37) Hand them out.
38) Make a bag with a message.
39) Make t shirts, pins, buttons... make them have meaning.
40) Memorize inspirational quotations to keep you going.

41) Donate books to hospitals, to libraries, to schools...
42) Teach someone to read, be it a child or someone learning to speak English.
43) Attend local theater and concerts.
44) Have an awesome tote bag you take everywhere and decline when plastic is offered.
45) Get a reusable bottle. Nalgene and Sigg give you cancer or whatever apparently... just ignore brand names and find one you like and drink it. Make sure it's recyclable if it does crack.
46) Buy your clothing second hand.
47) Don't let people bully others
48) take shorter showers.
49) Save water by reusing it. That which you used to clean your dishes can go into your garden if you use natural soap, which you should anyways because it will just end up in your rainwater.
50) Plug everything into one extended power plug so you can just unplug it every night. Even turned out, it can drain power and waste energy.
51) Don't call people fat. Ever.
52) Don't worship models (admire isn't worship.)
53) Follow activists on Twitter. A lot of people have an account and sometimes that daily random does of inspiration is what you need to take action.
54) Hold a walk or rally for a cause. Make sure to increase visibility by making posters and wearing all one colour.
55) Read about famous activists and know what they've been through to accomplish what they have. It will put your struggle into perspective.
56) Know your history: the million man march changed everything, and you can too.
57) Speak intelligently. "That's retarded" is ignorant and offensive and only shows you know nothing about the situation they are going through.
58) Don't use stereotypes, they are the opposite of action.
59) Instead of avoiding labels like "feminist", redefine them to what they should be.
60) "It is better to rally for something then protest against something." -Me, a few months ago.
I still agree.
61) Tweet about one important thing a day and bring it to someone else's attention.

62) Don't feel self righteous just because you joined a cause on Facebook. Raising awareness helps, but one little thing like that is merely slactivism.
63) Start an informative website for people to go to when they want more information on what you're talking about.
64) Write letters to the editor.
65) Donate condoms.
66) Do not under any circumstances ever prevent anyone from buying condoms.
67) Realize abstinence only education is stupid. (Sorry, let's be real, I'd take educated sex over uneducated sex any day.)
68) Respect other peoples religions. Respect includes a basic knowledge so you don't continuously question them and make them feel different.
69) Support advertisers who represent genders, races, and other demographics equally and respectfully.
70) Watch the Special Olympics as well. They are just as exciting and challenging and heroic.
71) Support your troops. Even if you don't agree with the war. Even if they're acting funny because they came home and they're shell shocked and scared and angry and crying and not yet getting the help they need. Even if they seem normal but a little off somehow. Even if you don't support your own government's choices. Even if hald the people you know in the army are jerks. Support your troops. They're doing it for you.
72) Support alternative business models. Buying an item that donates some proceeds is not a charity, but it is a good business model.
73) Focus. Seriously. Just focus.
74) Don't always assume your North American mentality is right. It's tempting to look down at the struggling and preach to them, but preaching seldom actually helps the person in need.
75) Donate 10% of your income to charity.
76) Donate bottled water, blankets, batteries, sanitary, and nonperishable food to shelters and food banks.
77) Buy a present for someone less fortunate at every major holiday.
78) Never waste something someone else could use.
79) Donate pet food to local animal shelters.
80) Donate diapers
81) Teach English to immigrants.
82) Send letters to those fighting overseas.
83) Know what recovery position is in case someone has a seizure. Stand up for someone with autism who might not be able to express what's bothering them. Understand neurodiversity.
84) Give up your seat for people who actually need it on the bus. Someone who needs a cane can't take the jumps and bumps like most of you can.
85) Take pictures of things that are wrong; polluted lakes, racist vandalism... Have proof and be clear when you are taking a stand for something.

86) Be critical without being rude. No matter how hard you're working for good, if you're hyperactive and make ill founded statements against "the corporation" (its the new "the man.") you only discredit the cause and lend to a stereotype.
87) Read local news.
88) Make local news. Do something worth talking about. Contact them. Get creative.
89) Actually pay attention to when the news is advertising a missing child. People frequently say "Imagine being that parent" and feel pity, but imagine being the child who is scared and either alone or with someone dangerous. Now understand why it's important.
90) Research what animal had to suffer for you to buy eyeliner. Make the answer none.
91) Research how many children made the jeans you're wearing. Realize it.
92) Talk to your friends about things that bother you. If you find someone with similar views, it can be easier to realize how to make a movement.
93) Attend a meeting of a grassroot local movement.
94) Get to know your neighbors.
95) Instead of giving change to, or even looking away from the homeless, spend some time with an organization that can make a real difference in their lives. Stretch your coins into a change that can benefit more people instead of just one.
96) Push for your school board to keep from cutting art programs. Mental health is as important as physical health, and yet frequently gets shafted during decision making and budget times.
97) Give someone a musical instrument.
98) Give someone a copy of something that matters, like 1984, or even V for Vendetta.
99) Uh.... have I said 'Vote' enough yet?
100) " Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato.



Malena said...

Thank you for this, I think everybody should try and make a difference and DEFINITELY stop wearing makeup from companies that test on animals! PETA has a good list of companies that do and don't, and even some of the cheapest makeups are cruelty free.

Tavi said...

Thank you thank you thank you. Sometimes it's hard to know where to start and it's best to hear all this from somebody who doesn't condescend. Thank you Mary!

Renée said...

I LOVE this. Thank you. Your whole blog inspires me every week. It's good to know that one can both be an activist and a fashion addict.

Isabel said...

You are my hero.

I still dislike those "Support Our Troops" ribbons though. Even my love for you cannot change that!

jameson ruth said...

you'll do something big someday.

Claire said...

This post is a good post. Sometimes I feel guilty that I need inspiration or motivation to do good works, but somehow your unjudgey posts inspire and motivate AND stop me from feeling bad about needing them.

Hail indeed.

Sadie said...

As an epileptic, thank you for number 83 :)

Eimear said...

That was lovely, and incredibly inspiring. I will make an active effort to do those 100 things.

Thank you Mary. :)

aliceinparis said...

Well done!
Words worth reading.
The Activist Wears Prada, absolutely!

lydia said...

amazing! i really got some ideas from this and it's made me feel better about myself, too. i've hardly ever thought that such little things could make a difference.

bobb said...

Thanks Mary.... an excellent list here:).

lauren said...


Saskia said...

I really like the post and even if every reader would only do five things or so it would have quite an impact!
However, I don't quite like the 46 and 51.

First, I live in a country which doesn't have that much second hand shops. If all the kids would buy their clothes there, there wouldn't be much left for those who really have to buy there.

Second, I don't get why it isnt't equally bad to call someone "fat"
to calling someone "stick-thin". Today, I feel it's just jealousy because surprisingly, only women have ever felt the urge to tell me that I'm too thin which lead to quite some junkfood-intake during puberty.

However, I will try to accomplish the said five things and follow your blog!:)

Raigan said...

Another post by Mary that I have to file away forever and ever so I never have to lose it. You inspire me!


Faux Naif said...

aah you're so awesome my brain can't even process it. like isabel, though, i don't think i can ever really wrap my mind around "support our troops" ribbons. but you are still so awesome. so so awesome.

Alice said...

Such an enlightened young lady! Ah I love you! :)

Anonymous said...

Totally awesome post! But I'd like to mention that Value Village is owned by a large American company called Savers. They make money off your donations. Salvation Army and Good Will are probably more beneficial if we're talking about activism.
Thanks for the inspiration :)

Kwassa said...

This is great, Mary! I'm going to try to complete the entire list.

I was wondering, do you know of any good printable pamphlets for Darfur? I've found a couple, but for some reason my printer keeps cutting them off.

Becca Jane said...

Thanks for this fabulous post. There ARE so many ways to give back. Thanks for sharing.

Courtney K. said...

What an inspiring post to read. I absolutely love it. Impressive. You're really going to change the world, aren't you? Good luck to you. I only hope I can do the same. xoxo.


ingrid said...

This is an awesome post. I was wondering if it would be ok for me to borrow your list and translate it into Spanish for the organization I work with (http://yourmira.org) in order to publicize it in our newsletter. I think it will really inspire people. We would give you credit for it, of course.