Those who have had the least impact in causing climate change are the ones who will suffer the most from its consequences. Many are suffering right now as you read this and have been for years.
We know it’s hard to hear. We know because for so long, we didn’t want to consider it.
We always knew climate change was an issue that we should do more about, but whenever we thought about it, we just got sad or angry. We always thought that big business should be doing more. We always thought that governments should be doing more. We always thought that it was up to the people in charge to fix it. Then, when they continued to deny the urgency of the situation, we got scared.
We felt completely helpless. We felt as though there was nothing we could possibly do but wait. We desperately tried to find something that we could influence or control to help prevent climate change. Then, we realised something that completely changed our lives and our outlook on the situation. We realised that the only thing we had any real control over was adjusting our own lifestyles to live more sustainably. We can’t (and shouldn’t try to) control how other people live their lives. We can’t singlehandedly control what governments and businesses do to tackle climate change. But, when we make even the smallest daily decisions towards living more sustainably, we start on a path that if we continue to follow, leads to a truly sustainable life.
Over the past couple of years, we have been trying to find ways to reduce our impact on the planet. There were times when it was hard to keep up the motivation. There were times when it was difficult to know if the changes we were making were actually reducing our impact. A few months in, we found an online tool that we could use to calculate our impact and then as we make small changes, see what effect it has on our overall impact. We both went through this calculator and although the results were concerning at first, it gave us a clear baseline. Ever since taking the calculator, finding motivation and knowing what changes will have the greatest effect has been much easier.
As we continued to make small changes to our lifestyle, we kept seeing more and more protests and student strikes around the lack of action on climate change. We saw people of all ages becoming increasingly anxious about the future of the planet. We also saw a growing consensus among mental health professionals that one of the best ways for people to manage this anxiety is to take control of reducing their own impact.
Easier said than done. It’s much easier for us to just keep on doing what we’re doing and try and tune out the warnings of where we’re headed. It’s also easier to blame big business and governments for not taking action. Unfortunately, neither of these solutions do much at all to reduce the dangers of climate change. We’re not going to try and pretend that making adjustments to our lifestyle is always easy. It’s often difficult and it sometimes presents us with real moral dilemmas.
When trying to live more sustainably, we can often find ourselves asking the question, is it worth it? Asking ourselves this question may feel counter productive at first but consciously asking it and answering honestly is the easiest way to quickly find what works for you and what doesn’t. If you ask yourself the question and you can honestly say, ‘no this solution really doesn’t work for me and my circumstances’ that is totally fine! Accept that, and try and find something else that does work for you. Continue finding new ways to adjust your lifestyle or even just small habits and as you do, continually ask yourself the question, is it worth it? The answer will also likely change in time. What doesn’t work for you and your circumstances now might be a much better fit in a year or two. You may even ask yourself the question, identify why it doesn’t work with your circumstances and actively work towards changing those circumstances to be able to live more sustainably.
This question also stands for the habits and goods that we know are bad for the environment. When we choose to drive instead of riding, when we’re tempted by highly processed, highly packaged and highly delicious Oreos, when we’re tempted by the warm glow of the Maccas sign after a few drinks on a Friday night, we need to ask ourselves the question, is it worth it? The point of asking this question isn’t necessarily to guilt ourselves into making an eco-conscious decision, the point is to be honest with ourselves about whether we think it is truly worth it. If it is bucketing rain and 2 degrees then you’d probably be fair to say that it’s worth driving in a nice dry and warm car. If it’s a lovely sunny day then ask yourself, is it really worth taking the car?
We’re not experts and we’re not here to convert anyone. We’re certainly not going to tell you to make any huge and immediate changes to your life. All we want to do is share some of the ways that we’ve adjusted our decision making to work towards living a more sustainable life.
If you’re ready to get going, we recommend that you take the footprint calculator by clicking on the link below and then come back to see what you can get started with. Be as honest as you can with your answers and don’t worry about what score you end up with. We all have to start somewhere and whatever score you get, it will give you a clear baseline. From here, it’s easy to weigh up what effect different adjustments will have. If you’d rather not take the calculator, please feel free to have a look around the website and check out some of the links and resources on each page. All of the links and inspiration are interesting perspectives from a range of different people and organizations and they are a great way to keep your motivation up. We hope you find some value in what we have to share and we hope that you find some helpful tips and inspiration for living a more sustainable life.
Lots of love,
Tom and James
Links and inspiration
- https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/global-environment-outlook-6 (the summary for policy makers is easier to understand)