Four years ago, I was deeply anxious about climate change and what it meant for the next generation’s future. But I had no idea what I could do as one lone individual with a young child and a demanding job in the mix. That sense of overwhelm and powerlessness kept me stuck. It took months to find my footing and a concrete path toward action.
Based on my own journey in the years since, here are three simple steps for moving from climate angst to concrete action:
- Feel. As parents, we sometimes don’t allow ourselves to express or acknowledge our emotions. In order to have more honest connections with kids and teens in our lives who are worried about the climate crisis, we need to address our own feelings about it. One way to begin: tell your climate story on a site like DearTomorrow. Or, check out this brief tapping exercise created by PCC member Denise Kleinman.
- Reflect. Another element of overwhelm can be figuring out where to start. There is so much work to be done, and you are just one person. This is where Dr. Ayana Johnson’s “climate action Venn diagram” comes in. Rather than starting with what you feel you SHOULD be doing, think about what skills you can bring to the table, as well as the activities that bring you joy. Use those strengths as the basis for figuring out your role in the climate movement.
- Connect. Certainly, individual actions like starting to compost or divesting your finances from fossil fuels can make an impact. But what I’ve personally found is that connecting to collective action helps me stay inspired and feel less alone with my worries. Aside from The Parents’ Climate Community, there are so many awesome environmental justice, sustainability, and climate groups in Austin (find a partial round-up here).
One last piece of advice: embrace imperfection. Choose one strategy, and if it doesn’t work out or you don’t vibe with the group you’ve joined, move on. Know that there are seasons in life when your caregiving responsibilities, workload, financial situation, or health might prevent you from being as active as you would like. Just try to find your way back when you are able.
Need more inspiration? Check out this guide we wrote for Austin Family magazine on pursuing climate action as a family.