COP26 has bought the climate emergency to the forefront of all our minds. No news bulletin is complete without a story about the environment. It’s vital these stories get this attention, but for some – myself included – it’s simply increasing their climate anxiety.
It can feel overwhelming and I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling helpless at times too. However, we can all make small, budget friendly changes that combined could make a big difference.
Making these should help you deal with your climate anxiety without having to sacrifice your budget.
- What is climate anxiety?
- Focus on the positives
- Make small changes
- Experiences over gifts
- Look at your pension and investments
- Think about your energy usage
What is climate anxiety?
Referred to as eco-anxiety, climate distress, climate change anxiety, or climate anxiety, these terms describe anxiety related to the global climate crisis and the threat of environmental disaster, The Lancet says.
Climate anxiety is a recognised medical condition now. If you find yourself suffering from symptoms like panic attacks, insomnia, and obsessive thinking, please do seek medical support.
Low level climate anxiety will leave you feeling overwhelmed and panicked about the future of the planet. Generally speaking, you’ll want to do something to help, but won’t know where to start.
The tips below are designed to help those with low level climate anxiety, who want to feel like they’re doing something. Those suffering with more severe climate anxiety should speak to a doctor.
Focus on the positives
The most positive thing is that we can all do something.
Yes, 100 companies are responsible for roughly 70% of harmful emissions. But I don’t buy the argument that this absolves personal responsibility.
Companies respond to consumer demand. If enough people stop buying certain products or change their consumer habits, the companies will have to adapt.
We all have a voice and can use it to influence others. I like to talk to my friends and family about climate anxiety and the changes I’m making. I’ve picked up some great tips from them by doing this and they have adopted some of my changes.
Even something as simple as suggesting we walk rather than drive somewhere can make a difference. Often, people will be glad you raised the topic. It’s hard to escape what’s going on and most people feel a certain level of climate anxiety.
Make small changes
Just like with your finances, small changes can lead to big results.
Climate anxiety might make you think these changes aren’t worthwhile, but they do help.
One of my favourite recent changes is switching to a shampoo bar. I bought one bar which costs £7.99. It sounds like a lot, but the bar has lasted me 2 months and it’s not finished yet.
Previously, I was buying a bottle for about £2.50. This would only last about 3 weeks, so the difference in price is negligible.
Low waste alternatives don’t just help reduce plastic. They also take up less space when being transported. I was once told that one lorry carrying shampoo bars contains the same amount of shampoo as 15 lorries carrying bottles of shampoo.
I’ve also focused on reducing my meat intake. Thankfully, vegetarian and vegan options tend not to be more expensive. When eating out, these options are often much cheaper!
Experiences over gifts
You can’t ever throw anything away. The majority of everything you’ve ever owned is likely still on the planet somewhere – a lot is probably sitting in landfill.
With this in mind, think carefully about the gifts you give.
I’m moving much more towards giving experiences over physical gifts. This is something you can enjoy together and doesn’t result in excess waste.
You don’t have to spend more money on experiences either. Plenty of experiences can be budget friendly and you can find deals on sites like Groupon.
When an experience isn’t appropriate, I try to think about something they will definitely use. Whether it’s a nice bottle of gin or perhaps some homemade biscuits, you can be confident the gift will be consumed and won’t end up in landfill!
Look at your pension and investments
Money talks. It’s a sad but simple fact.
Even if you don’t have enough money to invest, you almost certainly have a workplace pension. Your pension has power.
With one click, I managed to move my pension into an ethical fund. This may not be a perfect fund, but it’s better than doing nothing. It also shows the company what is important to you. The more people that make this decision, the more the company will think it is worth focusing on the environment.
The same is true for your investments. There’s a lot of ESG funds available now. They may not all be perfect, but here you have choice. You can shop around and find the one which best suits your values.
Private capital is key to determining how companies operate. Even with a small amount of money you can make a difference. If you’re switching investment providers for environmental reasons, tell them. The more people that do this, the more likely they are to change their ways.
Think about your energy usage
The current energy crisis means now may not be the best time to switch providers. When things settle down, it may well be worth looking to move to a renewable energy-focused provider.
Right now, you will probably be best sticking with your current provider. This doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference, however.
Energy bills are rising, so why not save yourself some money and help protect the environment by using less?
I love being cosy. I’ll use blankets and a hot water bottle long before I put the heating on. In the depths of winter, you’ll likely still need the central heating on. But using extra layers, jumpers and hot water bottles can keep you going for an extra month or two.
If you’re back in the office, you could charge your phone or laptop while you’re there. This also works if you’re in a café with plug sockets.
Charging your devices in the day also removes the temptation to leave them charging overnight. Doing this wastes unnecessary money and energy. Make sure you turn the sockets off at the mains when you’ve finished charging too. This can save you around £5 a month, which quickly adds up!
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If you enjoyed this post about combatting climate anxiety while maintaining your budget, please share it on social media and with your friends. What are your top environmentally friendly switches that don’t break the bank? Comment them below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!