Eco-friendly Winter Holiday TipsEco-Friendly,Lifestyle
This year, I began becoming trained on how to give presentations regarding the climate emergency; to persuade people and organizations to prioritize climate change in their mission. A portion of the training was devoted to telling our climate story. Each of us has one. The first time you heard the term? Learned what it was? Were impacted by its effects? We all have something that revealed its urgency and made you think, “we should do something about that.”
Hearing someone’s personal story about why addressing the climate crisis is important to them can be a great way to help others understand how critical it is for us all to behave with a sense of urgency and actively do what we can to curb it’s effects on the planet. I am making an effort to connect with you all about why we should actively get involved. Hoping it will move you enough to want to share your own personal climate story with me, this is my personal climate story.
I first heard the term climate change in late 2006, my freshman year in college when I saw the documentary, The Inconvenient Truth. As a 90s kid I grew up hearing buzz words like pollution, ozone layer, and recycling. But until the film, I had never heard a comprehensive breakdown of what climate change was, its effects on the world, and how urgent, immediate action is necessary to the survival of all living things on this planet.
Though, I have to admit, at the time even though there hadn’t been much mainstream media coverage or federal policy to address the climate crisis, I was confident we would take care of it. Previous presidents of both parties had set policy to protect nature before, we would surely do it again. Especially knowing the future of our very existence was at stake. The United States would rally the world and solve this problem! (I’m sure this makes many of you cry with laughter, because so far the United States has done quite the opposite.)
For the next few years, I made small changes in my life and tried bringing it up in conversation to see how many other people knew about this looming global catastrophe. Some people had heard of it before, some hadn’t, a lot of people said it sounded fake or had the attitude that the worst would never happen. Though I also noticed, no one really expressed an effort to change anything they were doing to make it better. That sometimes left me questioning if I was overreacting or if we (collectively as a society) were really about to just keep living our lives like it wasn’t happening. Very quickly I became the annoying friend who yelled at you for littering, or not recycling, or (the worst) leaving the television on all night while everyone was sleeping!
Mainstream media coverage on the topic still remained scarce. Even after record breaking tornado seasons, and hurricanes not once did I hear anyone on network television say the words climate change. The information was out there, the internet works wonders in that regard, but the people with the biggest platforms were still not even addressing it. Forget debating it, it just wasn’t being mentioned at all. It sounded so scary to me. Even the with the worst of the worst coming what we thought would be long after my lifetime, it sounded like life before total extinction was going to become very difficult in the decades leading up to the unimaginable. But it became harder to stay actively concerned about it, it just seemed more like a grim fairytale that I would never have to concern myself with while here.
Then, I had my first child. My vision of the future began to extend much further past my own lifetime. That’s when the terror struck. Paralyzing fear that left me wide wake at night, staring at my sleeping newborn. Fast forward to 2016, the conditions have only become more dire. Despite the Paris Agreement of 2015, a global promise made by every country in the world to lower its carbon emissions, many of the world’s biggest polluters were still increasing their emissions. The United States being one of them. Now, we have more work to do to mitigate the damage, but less time to implement the change needed. With very scary, very real, very society-altering disasters and hardships becoming possible within my and my kids’ lifetime.
It was 2018 when I read The Green Collar Economy I learned about the unequal effects of this global crisis. Our nation’s poorest communities are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. Low income neighborhoods across the nation are made up primarily of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. These cities, towns, communities, are at higher risk for developing health complications and even premature death due to air pollution, poor water quality, proximity to dangerous fossil fuel facilities, and aging and dilapidated infrastructure. None of this surprised me. I’m not new here, most negative aspects of our society negatively impact people of color disproportionately: premature death, incarceration, the achievement gap, the wage gap, I could go on. But no one was talking about it, not even the Black people in my social circles.
I started thinking, what happens to the prospect of the children of the world having children of their own? How much of our modern society will even be recognizable by the time my kids are middle aged? How do I raise and teach children in a world where the window of opportunity to mitigate the damage has come and gone? Confronting the answers to these questions was devastating to my mental health. So much so, that when I found out I was pregnant with my third child, my heart sank. Another life I was bringing into the world what would be looking forward to living that life even further into a future that I couldn’t guarantee would be there for him.
The sleepless nights returned. I started to have very strong anxious feelings that caused tightening in my chest, and a deep sense of dread anytime I saw climate related news. (Now that it’s finally on the national news stage.) Daily existence became a constant battle between staying present or spiraling into the dread of the possibilities of the future. Which ultimately took me away from my children. I was unable to allow myself to enjoy the life I was currently living because I was so afraid that it could be taken away.
I couldn’t sustain that existence. Not as I am watching my kids grow up and experiencing their life moments. I had to be soaking that in. Because it’s here, right now they’re happy and healthy, and the weight of this crisis is above me. It’s above any individual. If the Anxiety Management Zoom meeting I went to last month taught me anything, it’s to focus on the things you can control. I can control my home and raise my kids to value the abundance of our planet and to live a sustainable life. I can find a community of friends, family, social media followers of people who care about the planet too. What are they doing to cope, get involved, share in their anxieties, grief, and triumphs (because there are triumphs). Its part of the reason why I started Teacher Mom Chronicles.
I am a teacher and a mom. I invest in the future daily. But the only way to truly do that is to do everything in my power secure their possibilities of a future. My hopes for this platform is to promote ways to live a more sustainable life. Educate my followers about the real and unimaginable effects of climate change, and spark a community of caregivers to take action for the children and students we love so much.
What’s your climate story? Why is climate change important to you? Please let me know on my Contact page Subscribe to our mailing list while you’re there and receive a free instant copy of our Getting Involved Resource Guide. Which includes some climate related organizations to join and support.