Climate anxiety is real. Dire environmental news is everywhere, and it’s easy to think individual actions don’t matter. But they do! Adopting a positive mindset and some new habits can make a big difference. Today’s post has 7 steps you can take today to live more sustainably.
The need for action is urgent. Despite all the awareness of climate change and global warming, worldwide carbon emissions increased in 2022 (Source: Forbes) and scientists fear we may be running out of time. If these headlines make you anxious, experts say one of the best ways to combat climate anxiety is to take action. (Source: Psychology Today)
You may not have the resources to trade in your car for an electric vehicle or to plant a forest. You do have the power to shift your mindset and adopt some new habits. Each of these seven actions is something you can start today. Are you ready?
Transporting goods around the world has a big impact. In fact, maritime shipping causes more greenhouse gas emissions than airlines. (Source: Yale Climate Connections)
One of the simplest changes is supporting local businesses and producers when you can. Look for farmers markets, farm stores, and other small businesses selling locally-made goods.
And, if you have the space, consider growing some of your own food. You can’t get more local than your own balcony, back yard, or community garden.
Think before you drink
A travel mug and refillable water bottle are two of the best investments you can make to reduce your impact on the planet. I make my tea at home and avoid bottled water even when travelling.
Buy a reusable water bottle and take it with you every time you go out. When travelling, fill it after you’ve passed through airport security. Similarly, use your own travel mug for your daily fix of caffeine. Many coffee shops will give you a discount if you bring your own mug.
Finally, when ordering a drink in a restaurant, say “No straw, please.” It’s a habit I’ve gotten out of because we have made big progress eliminating plastic straws in Canada. Pretty much every time I order a drink when I travel in the United States, I’m dismayed when it shows up with a plastic straw.
Scrutinize all packaging
Excessive packaging is a big problem, especially for electronics, personal care and food items.
When shopping, scrutinize the packaging on everything you buy. Then, buy products with the least packaging, or items in recycled and recyclable packaging.
Reuse single-use items
Realistically, it’s next to impossible for most of us to avoid all single-use packaging. However, you can commit to reusing as much of it as possible. Here are some ideas:
- Wash and reuse bags from frozen produce and other frozen foods. They make great freezer bags.
- Use plastic containers and glass jars for food storage.
- Clean and reuse plastic cutlery.
Repair instead of replace
We treat many things as disposable—including items like clothing and appliances that should be more durable. When things break down, consider if they can be repaired before jumping to immediately purchase a replacement.
Seeing the impact of this throwaway mentality, the French government has introduced tax credits for clothing repairs and household appliance repairs. (Source: Happy Eco News)
Although you may not qualify for a tax credit, you can extend the life of your clothing by finding a tailor or seamstress to do simple repairs like hems, zippers and buttons. And consider repairing appliances and electronics instead of throwing them away.
Keep electronics for longer
I recently got a new mobile phone and saw firsthand how cellular companies have normalized replacing your phone every two years. They tempt you with a lower monthly payment. Then, when the two-year contract is up, you’re faced with paying a lump sum to keep your existing phone that probably still works just fine. Rather than pay the lump sum, many people will opt to continue that lower monthly payment and get a brand-new device.
Most mobile phone manufacturers support their new models for much longer than two years. I chose a larger monthly payment that will disappear after two years, but then the phone is mine to keep.
Use the same mindset for your laptop, desktop computer, and tablet. Our desktop computer is going on six years old, and it still does the job.
Consider second hand
Thrift stores and online selling sites like Facebook Marketplace are gaining in popularity—for good reason. You can often find quality items at a fraction of the price of a new item. A win for your wallet and the planet.
When you need to buy something, consider if you can get it second hand. If you have items you want to get rid of, try posting them on a buy-and-sell site or your local Buy Nothing group. I have used our local Buy Nothing Facebook group to find new homes for hundreds of items. I love knowing my things are going to someone who can use them.
None of these changes are difficult, but together they can add up. Imagine the impact if everyone on the planet made just these seven changes.
Knowing you’re doing something good will have a positive impact on your mental health. You might even notice a snowball effect—once you start making small changes, you’ll find it easier to identify other things you can do to reduce your impact. It all adds up!