Earth Day 2019: Here is what individuals can do to reduce their carbon footprint


Ecological grief, or feelings of hopelessness and anxiety about the planet’s health, is a mental health issue related to ecological loss and a changing natural environment. One way to address ecological grief is by highlighting the behavioural changes that individuals can make in their daily lives to combat climate change.

“The grief felt in relation to experienced or anticipated ecological losses, including the loss of species, ecosystems, and meaningful landscapes due to acute or chronic environmental change.”

Ecological grief can also manifest in feelings of sadness that your home may not always stay the same. Dramatic changes to a place usually viewed as consistent and predictable elicits a visceral fear; flooding, fires, and heat-waves are all tangible shifts to a new normal that people must get used to, and many people are finding it hard to cope.

“I think what we are seeing happen in Canada is we have gone from this place where scientists are telling us about climate change to where we are feeling climate change.”

The current climate emergency involves a lot of technical aspects that need unpacking, and much of the conversations on climate change are politically polarizing. This makes casual conversations difficult, and limits how we can plan for a changing future. A sense of hopelessness, and a feeling that individual efforts cannot possibly be consequential, are understandable, but if enough people make enough individual changes, systemic shifts are possible.

One way to address ecological grief is to embrace the idea that individual change has value and can make a difference. Ecological grief is a very reasonable response to a changing climate, but we can all make lifestyle changes to challenge our feelings of hopelessness.

In honour of Earth day 2019, KAIROS has created an infographic that shows the most impactful lifestyle changes individuals can make to reduce their carbon footprint. This guide to reducing your carbon footprint attempts to make it easier to begin these difficult conversations.

Download (PDF, 299KB)

ALSO SEE: On Earth Day, Canadian faith leaders issue urgent plea for climate action (Video)


Filed in: Ecological Justice

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