The Eco-Empowerment Toolbox

Being bombarded by constant information is a fact of life in the modern age. Even after necessary screen-related tasks like work or education are done for the day, it’s hard to avoid the temptation of falling down the internet/news rabbit hole … but if you’re not careful, that may have a negative effect on your mental health. Remind yourself that you don’t have to perpetually doomscroll to stay involved with environmental issues; instead of succumbing to information overload, take a walk or just wind down outside.

Sometimes, the best way out of a negative thought loop is to take positive action, no matter how small it may seem. If your pantry is getting out of control, keep a donation box handy for unwanted, unexpired nonperishables and add to it whenever you have a few spare minutes. When it’s full, donate the items to your local food bank – you’ll have helped others in need and kept trash out of the landfill! You can do the same with clothes, housewares, or other items that can be donated. Clearing the clutter feels good, but even more so when it’s for a good cause and prevents waste.

If you enjoy DIY home-improvement projects, help conserve energy by conducting a home energy audit. Weekend warriors may find that a little effort goes a long way toward increasing energy efficiency.

You may be sick of scrubbing your bathroom, but you can also get sick from it. Headaches, sinus problems and dizziness are just a few side effects you can experience when you’re using harsh, chemical-based cleaners. Do your health – and the health of your family, pets and the planet – a favor, and switch to organic, natural products for cleaner air in your home and a better feeling all around. Many of these products will also come in packaging that’s friendlier to the planet than chemical cleaning products. Even better, you can make your own eco-friendly cleaners (remember what we said above about small projects?) and save money while saving the environment.

Indoor plants not only look great in any room, they have genuine benefits for our physical and mental health (you can read more about why household plants are good for you here). Besides boosting your mood and helping clean the air, plants bring a little bit of the great outdoors into your living space, and that can be comforting if you’ve spent a lot of time cooped up inside recently. That brings us to another tip …

Spending time outdoors isn’t just for kids – science says it’s just as important for grownups. Even if you only have time for a brief trip to your local park, putting down that screen and spending time in nature will have a positive effect on your feelings of well-being and even your physical health. You don’t have to be a hard-core hiker to experience these benefits, either; check out the National Park Service’s extensive list of ways nature can make you happier and healthier.

If you feel like your efforts to live green aren’t making much of a difference (trust us, though – they are), remember that there’s empowerment in numbers! Joining an environmentally focused group can help you channel that anxiety into productive change. Be sure to research groups to find the one that works for your particular talents, interests and schedule, because you’ll find the most fulfillment when you’re not overwhelmed.

Did you know that since the first Earth Day in 1970, air pollution has dropped by 67%? The Clean Air Act was passed that same year, and improvements like unleaded gasoline have reduced smog so much that the cleaner atmosphere alone has added more than a year to our average life expectancies. These changes have happened through the work of people just like you, and that’s something to celebrate. So, when you’re feeling down, read the stories behind some of the climate victories and environmental acts throughout history that have improved the planet, and you might just feel a little more inspired.

Whatever way you choose to eco-empower yourself and shrink your carbon footprint, you’re being a good friend to the planet, so be sure to give yourself a few pats on the back. Taking some time to form real-world connections with humans, animals and the great outdoors will remind you that you’re a part of something very big and very important: nature itself.

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