Article by Solana Center Volunteer, Joe Rees
Planet earth is facing a monumental challenge in the shape of climate change and with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels hitting a historic high (which can trap more heat and cause even more climate shifts), it’s no wonder that so many of us are struggling with climate anxiety. These feelings of helplessness may weigh us down but they don’t have to be debilitating - often the fastest and most effective technique to manage these feelings is to take action.
Getting involved in climate change activism doesn’t always mean marching on government or waving signs (although this helps!) – often, the most effective actions you can take are on a microeconomics level. A good place to start is by supporting eco-friendly businesses. If we want to see these green-minded companies established at the forefront of the economy, it’s important that we back them financially. For this reason, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with eco-labelling - for example, Energy Star, USDA Organic Seal, Forest Stewardship Council and Green Seal all endorse planet-friendly products. Make sure you are also wary of green-washing, or marketing ploys that trick consumers into believing a product is good for the environment when it really isn’t.
If you’re experienced in business, you could even consider forming a green corporation of your own. By starting an eco-minded business, you can tackle any shortcomings you think need addressing.
If you’re not already, you could also try signing up with activism groups and organizations in your area. Amongst the recommended nonprofits are the Clean Air Task Force, the Sunrise Education Fund, Carbon 180, and Terra Praxis. These initiatives were created to legally and effectively combat climate change using rational, science-backed approaches.
Much of our anxiety and depression about climate change are intertwined with feelings of guilt. It can help, then, to make changes in our lives that will alleviate this guilt as well as providing other health benefits. Going vegan is an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint – a plant-based diet will not only help you to minimize your carbon footprint and avoid supporting any potential inhumane of animals , but you may also find that you have more energy, cleaner skin, and more positive body chemistry. If you can’t go all the way, just cutting out red meat will make a profound difference to both your well-being and the planet’s.
There are also plenty of changes you can make within a domestic context. Transitioning to sustainable energy via solar panels or recycling electronic waste are good examples of what you can do at the residential level. Or you could try to reduce your emissions by switching to public transport and carpooling with co-workers. These changes might seem minimal but, with enough of us following suit, they can add up to a big impact.
Although staying busy and focusing on your goals can go a long way toward managing your mental health, it’s important to seek advice if you have prolonged bouts of climate anxiety.
Climate anxiety is a natural response to such a large and unyielding issue, and it’s important to remember that even small actions taken together can have a profound effect in maintaining a healthy planet and influence the way we feel about our future. Taking the actions you can will create optimism in yourself, and hope that inspires others to action as well. Solana Center offers several resources to help you decarbonize your lifestyle and start making changes on the grassroots level.
Solana Center for Environmental Innovation is a San Diego-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on Zero Waste, composting, and water conservation. Learn more about our work: www.solanacenter.org
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