10 Ways to be an Eco-Friendly Protester
Updated: Nov 20, 2020
With Trump’s inauguration officially taking place this last week, thousands of people have gathered around the world to protest his presidency – and everything he stands for. The Women’s March on Washington took place Saturday, January 21st with all 50 states hosting registered marches and at least 38 different countries showing their support.
I participated in a march in Bellingham, Washington that had around 8,000 marchers. Originally the City of Bellingham predicted only 4,000 marchers for our city with a population of 80,000. Can you imagine their surprise when double showed up? The march was magical for me and quite powerful. I walked with my mother and father, stood side-by-side with coworkers and friends, and chanted as loud as we could as we passed Trump supporters disrupting the march. It was truly amazing to see so many women and those fighting for women’s right all show up in one place.
Before attending the march though, I made sure that my participation in it would not go against my values for producing less waste and reducing my impact on the environment. What would I be doing if I gave up one value to fight for another?
So if in the coming months (or four years of Trump’s presidency) you find yourself about to take place in a protest, read over these helpful hints on how not to hurt the environment while doing it!
1. Carpool or Bus to the Event
What most often creates an environmental impact when it comes to a march is all the gas used just for people to get there! In order to reduce the carbon emissions you create in participating, consider carpooling or busing to the event. Most events will set up facebook pages to coordinate filling up cars and connect people going from their area. It may also be practical to only drive to the edge of the city and then take a bus to where the protest begins. This will save you time trying to weasel through traffic and reduce the individual cars driving all the way there.
2. Make Your Sign from Scavenged Cardboard
Depending on the kind of protest, signs are often a key part of it. They are a great way to express your opinion regarding the movement and a way to hold it up high for many more people to see. If you are going to make a sign, consider making it from something already headed to the recycling bin. Many apartment complexes or big stores will have a bin full of great cardboard that can be painted over to make your sign. You can also ask your neighbors or coworkers if they have any large pieces of cardboard they are going to throw out.
3. Use a Reusable Sign Handle
To add a handle to your sign, consider attaching it to a broom handle, cleaning brush, or plastic piping. All of these items can be taken off and continued to be used after the protest is over. Wood steaks or bean polls also work great!
4. Use Biodegradable Tape on Your Sign
Now this is something I recommend you have in your house no matter what! Because all of us every now and again just wish we had some tape for a project and pull out that sticky, trashy duct tape. There is an alternative however and you should consider using it to attach your sign to your pull. EcoEnclose, for example, is one company that supplies biodegradable tape options that you can purchase for your business or personal use. Their cellophane tape is clear and appears like normal tape but is biodegradable after using it. They also have a water-activated tape that is more paper-looking and brown colored. Etsy is also a great resource for locating tape that is plant based and water activated. After a quick search, these are all the results I have found!
5. Refuse Free Handouts and Flyers
There is bound to be people along the march route handing out flyers for an organization or similar event they’re promoting. These are all good things to know about! But instead ask to write the information down in your phone or bring a notebook and pen to jot down the website name. This saves the flyers from the recycling bin and allows more to be handed out to others!
6. Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
Many protests can go on for hours and it’s very important that you stay hydrated while standing outside in the elements. Bringing a reusable water bottle is a great idea because you can fill it up on the way at a variety of possible spots. Restaurants along the route are an easy place to step in and fill up with water without buying a plastic one. The organizers may also have set up water coolers along the way with disposable cups, but you can skip the cup and just get the water! If you’re feeling like quenching your thirst with juice or a smoothie, your water bottle can even hold that too.
7. Bring Protein Snacks
Along the same lines as staying hydrated, it is important to plan ahead if you are going to be marching over lunch time. A few good snacks like nuts, trail mix, or granola can help sustain you until you get to a place you can eat a full meal. To avoid packing a lot of weight, you can wrap these in napkins or paper bags.
8. Bring Your Own Container for Lunch
At the march in Bellingham, organizers had arranged for numerous food trucks to provide lunch. If you bring along a light-weight tupper wear (like an old plastic one or a metal tin) these food trucks make it easy to pop your burrito or sandwich into your tin without the extra wrappings.
9. Research the Weather Before Attending
This may seem like plain common sense, but it is quite surprising how many people don’t think about it! Make sure you know what the weather will be like to dress appropriately. This will help especially if rain is predicted. You don’t want to be that person who doesn’t bring a raincoat and has to take the free, plastic ponchos that are being handed out. At the same time, you don’t want to have two coats draped over your arms and buy a pair of plastic sunglasses so you can even see where you are going.
10. Bring a Bag for Trash
Although organizers usually set up quite a few garbage cans along the march route, trash ends up being dropped along the way. It can be a good idea to bring a bag so you can pick up trash while walking and keep the city just as clean (or cleaner) than before everyone got there. Many of your friends may also not be quite as cool as you are and have forgotten to prepare for a zero waste march. Collecting their trash will help eliminate litter and keep the roads safe for walking.