Adapt is a climate club run by Josie Tucker and Richard Ashton, a duo committed to using design and jokes to encourage environmental change in an accessible and collective manner.
For this piece, we asked the duo to put together a nine-step programme looking at how (intentionally bad) jokes and (good) design can help us encourage a more active participation in finding solutions to a problem that affects every single one of us. “It is,” Adapt say, “the guide we wish someone had given us about 18 months ago.”
You know that feeling where the scale of the climate crisis totally slaps you round the face and you wake up every day wanting to bury yourself in your mattress and sink slowly into it waiting for the world to end and you’ll be all by yourself with a puppy and a few hundred bottles of wine and literally nothing makes any sense and you start to wonder why the heck you’re even bothering with that freelance job and why does everything even exist anyway?
Yep. Harness that despair buddy, because it’s what eventually makes you angry. Really angry. The type of angry that makes you start doing things.
2. Talk to everyone until they are bored of you!
Sadly, it turns out that climate change is NOT accepted dinner party conversation, but keep at it! You may have to deal with being called a “stupid vegetarian hippy” more times than you would ideally like, but it’ll all be worth it when several family members turn round and say they’ve switched to renewable energy at home, all because you asked them to. Now who’s glad you spent that summer family ’do sharing all your amazing knowledge of fossil fuel usage?!
Keeping this conversational tactic going will give you an idea of what people do and don’t want to hear, and this is good. Tell them all the stuff they don’t want to hear. By the way, we know exactly what it feels like to spend ages researching and have all the climate knowledge up your sleeve, only to forget it when someone confronts you. So we made these handy pocket guides to help you navigate tricky climate conversations in times of need!
3. Start laughing
It might feel wrong at first, but the only way to defeat your enemies – in this case, the climate crisis and all those majorly responsible – is by laughing at them! It’s also a corker of a coping mechanism for point #1.
Turn everything that you can into a joke, because when you present people with information in a funny way, it literally increases memory retention! Plus it makes them want to speak to you more than at point #2. Want to tell people that all their favourite animals and future generations of their family face total extinction because of our stupid man-made climate crisis? We recommend a knock-knock joke. Want to let your mates know that crummy new Brazilian president Bolsonaro has increased Amazon deforestation by 50 per cent in only six months. How about a one liner?
If you’re not naturally great at producing puns on the spot, that’s totally fine (to be honest, we’re not either). That’s why we use the internet to turn terrifying information into memes and ridiculous posts, and our ongoing campaign (Don’t be a Fossil Fool) encourages people to switch to clean energy at home or work. We tried to turn this super unsexy subject into a fun task. Check out fossilfool.world!
4. Despair some more
Yeah, so the thing about that hole-in-your-gut feeling about the possibility of the world ending is that… it doesn’t really go away. At least until we’ve fixed what we can. Sorry!
5. Make new friends and learn how to use them for good
Getting people on board is hard, especially when you’re trying to engage them with the impending end of the world. It is, however, slightly easier to do so when there is booze around so keep a stash of cans in your recycled tote bag at all times. Everyone tolerates tins.
Once you’ve sorted that, do things which let people know you’re in a pit of despair (see points #1 and #4) BUT that you are dealing with it (point #3). Which means you’re looking to find real solutions that you and others can do to make a real difference. Do not encourage people to sign 10 petitions a day and share them all on Facebook. Do encourage people to hold corporations to account and make personal changes like switching to clean energy, eating a plant-based diet and flying way less (that last one’s not popular). Host events, chat to people when they approach you and support their projects. Make your own community because there’s strength in numbers.
We hosted a Planet Party with Brainchild, where people could dance until three with climate-themed activities and conversation starters, and it was a HOOT! We are currently in preparation for an exhibition called Sadness is a no gO-Zone, bringing together artists and designers to create an uplifting space to learn about and act on the climate crisis. Come and join us!
6. Sow your seeds
Running Adapt has taught us that there are a lot of people out there who care about the ongoing environmental breakdown. This may come in handy because you might need some new friends and family after talking to everyone until they’re bored of you (point #2). So, sow your social seeds and do some personal pollination.
Find all the people that are spending all their time doing similar things to you and work with them, because there’s always more room at the party. Then go and plant some actual seeds and trees, because the world needs billions more trees and the bees need seeds.
If you can’t be bothered to plant seeds all the time, buy one of our Sow Your Seeds T-shirts that support re-wilding organisation Mossy Earth. It’ll relieve your guilt and they’ll do the planting for you.
7. Shout with your hands
Hands are pretty handy. They are great email-writing tools and you can use them to tell off your local MP! Your opposable thumbs mean you can hold hilarious (and brilliantly designed) placards at all the climate protests you go to with all the new mates you made in point #5!
Online or IRL, you can make use of those fingery arm toppers and make them work for the environment. Who would have thought it would be so easy? Then when you’re all tuckered out, tell everyone you know to do the same. Bring them with you to the next protest or send a copy of that excellently worded email, because they aren’t as literate as you (but don’t tell them that. Obviously).
If you’re not sure how to make sure you’re going to the right kind of protest, we’ve put together this virtual calendar, where we’ve curated a list of climate events and protests and you can sync it to your Google calendar so you’re reminded automatically. You’re welcome!
8. Another IPCC report will come out, and naturally you’ll despair
Something to look forward to, hey?
9. Accept that this is your life now
A culmination of points #1, #4 and #8, with a lot of #3 and shitloads of #7. It’s more work than you can fit in a week and it’s quite easy to forget that no-one is paying you to do it, but that’s not the point. There’s no end until the world is fixed. Good luck with that, and say goodbye to your life as you knew it!
This article is part of Response and Responsibility, a new series of stories on It’s Nice That about the ongoing climate crisis and what the creative industries can do about it.