Today, on this fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, Aspen Skiing Company employees will be doing something seemingly un-earthy. Our events team, used to hosting big-air events and Bud Light sponsored concerts in downtown Aspen, will be masked and hanging out in a truck, receiving food donations. Working with local food banks, we’ll give all the food and more away tomorrow to hundreds of families. Just like we did last week. Just like we will next week.

On one hand, this seems like survival, not an Earth Day event. And for those receiving the food, it is. From a company perspective, it’s an ethos put to action: Using hard work, practicality, and our own resources to help solve a pressing problem. We’ll get through this crisis. To do that, people need to eat.

Far from distracting, this work informs one of our key missions at Aspen Skiing Company—our campaign to protect the climate. That, too, is going to require a workmanlike, realistic approach. But far from moving to the background in this pandemic, it has moved even closer to the fore. Here’s why: the national shutdown did to our business today what climate scientists say will happen by mid-century—and that is to cut off the last two weeks in March, which are absolutely vital to the ski industry. Without those two weeks, our business will fail.

And, really, that’s the least of it. On its current trajectory, climate change will displace millions of people by dramatically reducing the livable areas of the Earth. COVID-19 flipped a profoundly disruptive switch, effectively turning off the world’s economy over night. But at some point in the nearish future, the world will be able to flip that switch back to ON. Not so with climate change. It’ll melt the wiring. It is melting the wiring right now. COVID-19’s suddenness grabbed everyone’s attention. Climate change’s slow burn remains an abstraction to far too many people. That has to change.

So today, as we collect and then pass out food to our neighbors in need, we’re asking you to continue to take on the climate problem in the same practical way. Below, we’ve assembled an answer to the one question we hear more than any other: “What can I do on climate that’s meaningful? What really matters?” Below is the answer. It’s a list of substantial actions on climate that we’re taking, and we ask you to take, over the next six months. Each is difficult. Each will drive real change.

As with all hard but important things, you have to attack it in pieces. A little bit today. A little bit tomorrow. With practicality. With doggedness. With sanity. And importantly, with hope, because there’s nothing better than action to get you through hard times.

10 Climate Actions for Individuals

10 Climate Actions for Individuals

1. Pressure Businesses

Find the addresses of the CEOs of your favorite five businesses. Then write a personal letter explaining how much you like the company, and asking them to do more, at the advocacy level, using the CEO’s voice and power, to address climate change. In the same vein, spend your money wisely, support businesses that are already doing their part to reduce emissions and raising awareness around climate issues.

2. Make Your Voice Heard

Write a letter to your local paper asking elected officials to do more on climate. Be sober, fact based, and firm. Send the same letter to your senator and congressperson.

3. Influence Local Policies

Attend a town council meeting virtually, or later in person, in your community and during public comment, express your desire to see more aggressive climate action. It’s nerve-wracking—but deal with the pain.

4. Learn About the issues

Listen to the Podcast “Drilled,” and watch the film “Merchants of Doubt.”

5. Donate to the Cause

When and if you are able, give money to a climate action group involved in movement buildings. POW, 350.org, or pick your favorite. Do it regularly.

6. Meet Your Elected Officials

When your elected official is doing a local town hall, go, and ask them to do more on climate.

7. Educate Yourself

Read a difficult but fascinating book about climate science. Consider Bill McKibben’s “Falter,” Elizabeth’s Kolbert’s “Field Notes from a Castastrophe,” or “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace Wells.

8. Vote

Get ten people to vote with you for a progressive climate candidate in the next election. Campaign for that person.

9. Take a Stand

March in a climate protest. Make a sign. Bring your friends. Enjoy it—this is what it means to be citizen. Since it may be some time before we can gather in person, in the meantime tweet up a storm.

10. Reach Out to Your Leaders

Take a pilgrimage to visit your congressperson to tell them that you are concerned about the climate problem, and that as a voter you expect them to act. When they demur, repeat yourself. Then send your friends to do the same thing. When you get home, send a follow-up letter of thanks, and demanding action. While we can’t visit in person right now, send them a letter now, and be there in person once you’re able.

About the Author

Auden Schendler
Auden Schendler

AUDEN SCHENDLER

Auden is the Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Snowmass where he focuses on big-scale solutions to climate change, primarily clean energy and activism. He worked previously in corporate sustainability at Rocky Mountain Institute.