Are you feeling endlessly terrified and frozen from climate anxiety?
You're not alone.
Last Updated ⚡️ Aug. 1, 2019
I found myself in this position of feeling angry and disconnected from politicians, business leaders and bureaucrats, unaware of how I could really make a difference, and wondering how the hell we'd find the solutions. 😅
After doing some digging... 🔎 I discovered we already have them. ✨
So I'm going to walk you through my journey in relation to:
• learning more about climate change
• finding the solutions, systems and technologies that reduce or reverse it's effects
• how I've personally taken action to reduce my impact
• ways that I'm coping with the ongoing struggle of climate anxiety
A Quick Disclaimer
🚫 I'm not going to judge you or tell you what you should do with your life, but you (and everyone else) needs to do something — now.
It's going to get a lot worse too...
Please don't use your time debating endlessly: take action.
Trust me, I get caught up in it too...
Complaining about the inaction, excuses and frivolous facades of bureaucratic summits that shockingly seem to achieve nothing despite all the hype.
Feeling betrayed by companies and industries that seem to get away with (often literally) murder or poisoning the air, water and land with no consequence, as long as they fill the pockets and help place politicians in their seats.
It's frustrating as hell. 😡
A major insight I've learned with anxiety is that I always need to take action in order to calm and overcome it.
It's the same with climate change.
Talking about it, educating people and getting your friends or family onboard with personal changes (or pressuring politicians into real action) is important.
But we're screwed if we only have a really insightful conversation. 🔥🔥🔥
🌎 How do I fight climate change? 🌱 Drawdown
One of the most helpful steps I took that immediately focused my energy and reduced the foggy confusion around my thinking was discovering Drawdown.
What is Drawdown?
In their words... 👇
Project Drawdown is the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. We did not make or devise the plan—the plan exists and is being implemented worldwide. It has been difficult to envision this possibility because the focus is overwhelmingly on the impacts of climate change. We gathered a qualified and diverse group of researchers from around the world to identify, research, and model the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address climate change. What was uncovered is a path forward that can roll back global greenhouse gas emissions within thirty years. The research revealed that humanity has the means and techniques at hand. Nothing new needs to be invented, yet many more solutions are coming due to purposeful human ingenuity. The solutions we modeled are in place and in action. Humanity’s task is to accelerate the knowledge and growth of what is possible as soon as possible.
For me, it was the clearest and most-affirming book on climate change to allow me the opportunity of shifting from spinning in circles unsure what to do into taking educated action on what are proven to be the most impactful ways I can change my lifestyle to reduce emissions or help improve carbon sequestration.
Among the myriad ideas running through my mind for my next projects are social enterprises to help fill a need among that list — so it's even more intriguing to me.
Fair warning: The book is written from a very scientific, data-driven and technical perspective (which only adds to the credibility of their findings and statements), although it doesn't make the simplest or most entertaining read.
I've laid out my main insights below for those who won't read the book. 👇
💡 My main insights from Drawdown:
1. We already have the solutions we need
And more importantly, many of them provide additional benefits (like costs savings over time) which nullifies a large number of the debates against renewable energy and switching to new systems and infrastructures.
It's an investment that makes total sense.
2. Personal and political efforts all play a major role.
Solutions #3 and #4 out of 100 (ranked based on the potential impact) are actions that individuals can make a change on — relatively easily if you get past your own excuses — with Reduced Food Waste and Plant-Based Diet respectively.
By being more mindful of your eating, cooking and grocery shopping habits to reduce the amount of waste you create — doubled up with composting (#60) the food scraps that are inevitable. We can reduce a lot of emissions created and wasted in the supply chain of the food along with the decomposition of scraps.
Adopting a vegan diet reduces your impact on the climate and has many science-based health benefits for you as well.
Obviously, there are many solutions that most individuals outside of the related industries won't have a hand in, but it's worth noting the impact of these two simple steps that you have control over ~3 times every. single. day.
🔥 What I'm doing to reduce my impact
1. 🥑 Vegan diet and lifestyle.
Since 2015, I've adopted a vegan diet and lifestyle, which was driven from an ethics, environmental and health perspective. I'm back to being on a strict vegan diet (very rarely adding some seafood) into my diet. This included restricting myself from buying goods that were made of leather and other animal products as much as possible. While I'm not 100%, it's a main lens and value that I make these decisions through now and around 90% or more of the choices I make fall in line with it.
In that time, I — one single person — have saved approximately:
💧 7,599,117 litres of water, 🌳 5,110 sq.m of forest, 🐓🐄🐖 1,825 animal lives, 🌽 33,033 kg of grain, 💨 16,608 kg of Co2 (source of rough estimates).
The reality is that it's becoming easier and easier to eat vegan, whether at home or outside, as more places adopt options or open up shop. Plus, the more people that step forward to demand more supply — the more there will be.
I'll be adding a whole other post on my recommendations for a vegan diet soon.
2. 🚫️🚗 No car, I walk and transit everywhere.
I've never owned a car, although I used my parents' for a little bit when I was still living at home until the age of 20. I walk and take public transit everywhere. This is often a major factor when deciding where to live when choosing apartments and I suggest using the WalkScore system. Our current apartment at this time of writing is an oasis with a walkscore of 91. ✨👏
I also run my own businesses and choose to work from home.
In one year, "if just one driver per household switched to taking public transportation for a daily commute of 10 miles each way, this would save 4,627 pounds of carbon dioxide per household per year—equivalent to an 8.1% reduction in the annual carbon footprint of a typical American household." (source).
Using the estimates above, I will have saved approx. 💨 32,389 pounds of CO2, if not more with no commute, choosing to walk, etc. over the last 7 years.
3. 🥦 Composting and wasting less.
For the last 4 years, I've been focusing on composting any and all scraps that I can (here's a great guide to composting). Just make sure you check on the restrictions or guides for your local system or the way you choose to do it.
My efforts have included a backyard composting system, a city pickup shared bin among our apartment building at our previous place in Vancouver, and now a community bin (despite our requests and wishes).
Now, we're stuck falling through the cracks of some bureaucratic bullshit in Montreal as our street gets free compost pickup. BUT — since our building has more than 10 units (or something like that), we need to have a shared large bin and after proposing it to the condo board, it was shot down...
There's at least 2 or 3 community bins less than half a block away from our place.
But guess what? 🤨 Not enough people are using them, so we can't either.
We can't even pay for a private compost pickup service (despite being willing to) because they don't come to this area due to the city having service where we are...
All of this has caused us to trek about 3 blocks away, down a 'green alley' to drop off our compost about once a week. It's ridiculous and we're still fighting for a solution that makes more sense.
I'm walking you through all of this to say that the systems are obviously not perfect (or often don't even exist yet at all), so we need to pressure the government, the communities, and our neighbours to step up and help make the changes with us.
4. ✨ Adopting a minimalist lifestyle.
You 👏 don't 👏 need 👏 half 👏 of 👏 that 👏 shit. 👏
Seriously, it's insane how much stuff most people (myself included in the past) gather over time if you're not careful and mindful about what you purchase or simply acquire through all the little gifts, grab bags, souvenirs and such.
I've gained three key habits 🔑 that come with many benefits:
- SAVE. MORE. MONEY. 💰
- cleaner, more organized spaces
- less time to clean and organize each time
- it can help reduce stress or anxiety
- helps you get comfortable with letting go (and/or accepting change)
- reduces waste, new resources needed and related emissions
The first habit is purging. The thing about purging a good chunk of your possessions is you realize that you don't really need most of it. You may think you do because you're attaching value to it for some sentimental reason, but could you get the same with a photo of it?
Do you need the books you've already read or could the library make better use?
Are there a bunch of items that you never actually use but keep lugging around?
What do you keep telling yourself you'll use, but never do?
The second is resistance. Once you've gotten rid of stuff from a purge or two, you need to build up a better resistance to ensure that you don't simply fall back into the same habits as before and take in a whole bunch of new stuff.
The third is thriftiness. Buy secondhand, fix and maintain things instead of throwing it away too soon. Then, recycle or donate your still useful things.
Life is honestly a lot easier when you're better able to fight the trillions of dollars being spent telling you that you need whatever new widget to make you happy.
Save your money, save resources and emissions, help save the planet.
5. ☀️ Get educated, discuss and get involved
There's a lot of moving pieces and factors involved, which are impossible for any one of us to know. However, it's important to get educated in the basics and stay up to date through quality investigative journalism and articles. Personally, I prefer The Guardian.
Once you're caught up yourself, it's important to talk about it with others and see where they're at. Can you help lead as an example for them? Do they need help being pointed in the right direction with a few things?
And finally, get involved in your community or local government.
Are there any events, groups, charities or initiatives going on? If not, are you able to help organize and make something happen?
This is currently the stage I'm most focused on at the moment, as we've set better roots in Montreal and have begun learning French. Recently we learned about a local organization that had an event in our area, so we reached out to them, signed up and went to go check it out...
🤦🏻♂️ The event was in French, despite bilingual marketing and no warnings online or when we arrived.
Expect challenges and roadblocks, then just keep going.
We need it.
Now, we're brainstorming and planning our next steps in getting involved or starting our own group in Montreal to bring people together and boost our impact.
🤔 So what do we do now?
- Read up.
- Talk it out.
- Make a plan.
- Take action.
Start now 🌎
📚 Recommended Reading / Viewing
• Human Flow (Documentary by Ai Weiwei on refugee crisis)