50 Ways to Avoid ‘Slacktivism’

‘Add this ribbon to your avatar help save the panda’

‘Forward this email to your friends to promote awareness of overfishing’

‘Post this status update for 24 hours in support of HIV’

On the internet it’s easy to get lured into thinking you’re making a difference . . . but not everything we do, no matter how well intentioned, has an effect.

Forwarding an email about Fairtrade or Famine might make us feel better, but unless it leads to real action, then nothing changing the plight of the exploited or the hungry has been achieved.

Those most critical of ‘slacktivism(slacker+activism) argue that it’s simply a way for us to feel better about ourselves while we just sit on our sofas surfing the internet – without making any real effort to tackle the issues, open our wallets, or ‘get our hands dirty’.

Awareness raising, countering critical opinions, sharing information, suggesting ideas and passing on encouragement ARE all important, and we CAN and SHOULD do all these things, but we must also be sure to take action to tackle problems ourselves and promote and encourage action in others.

If you do tend to spend a lot of time at your keyboard then don’t be too discouraged – it’s better than staring at the TV after all, and  ’slacktivism’ in itself isn’t a bad thing – just so long as we make sure it’s not the only thing we do.

50 Simple things you can do to make a REAL difference today – however small

1Take your own mug when buying coffee to save plastic cups

2Spend 10 minutes collecting litter in your street

3Donate 10 tins of food to your nearest foodbank

4Go meat free every Monday

5 – Donate £10 to Oxfam, Children in Need or Barnardos

6Make an appointment to give blood

7 – Reuse the left-overs in your fridge, rather than throwing them out

8 – Convince your family to have a low-impact Christmas

9Spend a weekend doing conservation volunteering

10Recycle your old mobile phone – saves use of new rare earth metals

11 – Ask you boss if you can work a day a week from home – saving the commuting

12Switch to an ethical bank

13 – Make a list of things you could share, like ladders/drills etc, and circulate it to your friends & neighbours

14Lend $25 to a developing world entrepreneur through Kiva

15 – Contact your bank and ask for electronic statements rather than paper

16Register your support for a 38 Degrees campaign & also write to your MP and local paper about it

17Do your online Christmas shopping ethically

18 – Really forgive somebody – perhaps yourself, and just ‘let it go’

19Donate some of your unwanted stuff to Freecycle

20 – Phone an old friend or family member you’ve lost contact with

21Try to fix something that’s broken rather than buy something new

22Register as an organ donor

23Switch to a green energy provider

24 – Join a local group, club, church or other organisation and get involved in what they’re doing

25Commit to buying ethically produced clothes

26Join and support a Neighbourhood Watch scheme

27Volunteer to read for a Talking Newspaper for the blind

28 – Commit to working towards donating 5% of your income to the poorest people in the world

29 - Buy and install draft proofing for your home

30Ask for a smart energy meter for Christmas

31 – Offer to cut the lawn or hedge of an elderly or infirm neighbour or friend

32Join your local Transition Group and get involved

33Register with the MPS to get your junk mail stopped

34 – Work at being more generous – leave bigger tips, offer more help, give more time

35Buy second hand furniture and upcycle it, instead of new

36 – Tell people to send you only electronic Christmas cards this year

37Buy the Big Issue, talk to vendors, and acknowledge the homeless – even if you don’t give them money

38 – Take some old clothes or children’s toys to a charity shop

39Plant a tree

40 – Feed the birds over the winter, and the hedgehogs in the spring

41Consider offsetting your carbon

42 – Be dirtier, seriously, we tend to over-wash ourselves, our cars and our clothes – use less water

43 – Spend 5 minutes chatting with your neighbours over the garden fence

44 – Plant or plan a butterfly garden

45 – Start building or planning a vegetable garden – give some of what you grow away

46Commit to buying Fairtrade

47 – Invite your neighbours, or someone else you don’t know too well round for dinner

48Sponsor a child in an African village for 75p a day

49 – Commit to being a better friend – think about who can you help today ?

50 – Promote this, and similar ‘calls to action’ through your social media – and tell people which ones you’ve done, that’s the challenge

I’ll be posting a summary of what I’ve personally achieved (and not !) in the last year shortly.

Photo by koalazymonkey via Flickr

RELATED ARTICLES – 10 Ways to Change the World from Your Keyboard, Rebel with a CausePersonal Actions: Making a Difference


  1. Hey Steve, thanks for the comment on my blog! :D I bet your German comes straight from Google? ;)

  2. Thanks Alice – “All the good things have been said many times, and now just need to be lived” as someone once said.

    Love the title of your website – http://www.followtheredqueen.com

    Fühlen Sie sich frei, um jederzeit Kommentar :)

  3. I like that you also put things like “Really forgive somebody – perhaps yourself, and just ‘let it go’” on the list.
    Talk is cheap. There’s so much we can do every day;

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