If a person is asked where they are, they are very likely to know the exact answer—in their kitchen at home; at the grocery store in the cereal aisle, or at work; sitting at their desk. Most of us are likely to have full knowledge of our present circumstances, including our location. Not sure? Pull up a handy location map on a smartphone. While Hannah Bacon knows she is in Tucson the day of the interview for this article, the climate change activist doesn’t always know where she is, because even though she may have a map and may sometimes get reception service, Bacon is journeying through unknown territories every single day on foot—which she will continue to do for months to come.
Why is she doing this? Because she wants to do something meaningful for the planet and for climate change.
Bacon’s journey across the country spans 3,000 miles. She began her walk on a beach in San Clemente, California on Nov. 21, and her final destination is currently Virginia Beach, Virginia.
While Bacon understands the monumental nature of her commitment, she also knows that it’s worth it. Even though it is such a big undertaking, the idea to walk did not even exist until a month before it began.
“In October, I was flying out to California to visit some friends, and I [still] had no plans of doing this,” she says.
But, after reading The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells, Bacon began to analyze how her own carbon footprint could contribute to some of the world’s greater environmental issues.
“I just thought: ‘I need to be doing something more,’” she explains.
Bacon’s love for the planet, as well as her background in environmental activism—she had worked in an environmental outdoor school in Santa Cruz and for an environmental nonprofit in New York City—propelled her to make the decision, as well.
Still, even with experience and determination, the decision to embark on a journey such as this is not easy for most people. For Bacon, it came with the alignment of various factors.
“I think I’ve always been very aware that life happens, and if you have the time [and] opportunity to do something, you better doit… I mean, who knows what could happen in the future?”
Bacon has already raised over $10,000 through her GoFundMe account, which she donated in its entirety to Sunrise Movement, an organization that mobilizes climate change activists all around the world. And although she continues to raise money for this important cause, her goals are not only monetary.
“I want folks to realize that we should all be doing as much as we can. And of course, ‘as much as we can’ is different for every person… but no matter where they are in life or what is going on, there is probably some sort of area that they can change to make a positive impact on the Earth.” she says.
Bacon wants everyone to know that they can have an impact regardless of their background or education.
“You do not have to be a climate scientist or an environmentalist or anything,” she says. “I am someone who cares, but I did not study environmental science in college or climate change. I just got interested, and I am trying to do something… Anyone can make a difference.”
According to Bacon, there are many things we can all do, from switching up our diet to being more eco-friendly, to being conscious of what we buy, to using public transportation, to choosing to walk or bike more rather than drive. All it requires is a bit of research to find what we can best do to help. There is a lot of power in education. One just has to take the first step toward it.
As she continues on her journey, Bacon hopes to inspire and educate people on the issue of climate change.
But of course, although the journey is an adventure, it will not always be a walk in the park. Already, Bacon has noted the ups and downs that come with such an epic undertaking.
“The best thing [about the experience] has been meeting people in different places and from all different walks of life.”
Bacon notes how the opportunity to meet all kinds of people along the way, especially in a time that has been distinguished by a lack of human connection, has been a highlight of her journey. “Being able to connect [with people that have different opinions] on the basis of our planet as something that we do all have in common has been a surprise and a beautiful gift this past month.”
As for the challenges faced, she notes that the main one is the range of emotions she has experienced along the way.
“There’s days when I wake up and the sunrise is so beautiful and I am crying about how beautiful it is, and then a couple hours later my body is in so much pain, and I am crying for how strong the pain is. So, it’s been a really wild ride.”
To properly address the emotional weight of the experience, Bacon notes how the solo nature of the walk has been a blessing.
“[Being alone allows me] to sit with all of the things that I am feeling. It’s easier to allow myself to feel the sadness and the happiness, and the joy and the pain, because since I am by myself, I do not have to perform for anyone else,” she says.
For those whom she inspires to want to make a difference, Bacon emphasizes that there are many organizations they could support.
“[It is good] to see what comes up in your area, and pay attention to it. The number one thing is to start locally, and see what is happening with climate in your [community].”
For more on Bacon and her journey, visit www.milesforclimate.org.