by Phoebe Christensen
Gaining a new interest comes with a ton of ground to cover. For many people, becoming interested in environmental topics inspire a deep desire to do something, but the need for action seems so vast that it seems almost impossible to decide where to begin. This post will cover three aspects of starting on your journey:
- how do I overcome environmentally unhelpful narratives I might have grown up with?
- how do I advocate for our planet without guilting/being obnoxious to those around me?
- what do I even do to start?
Overcoming Environmentally Unhelpful Narratives:
I grew up in an atmosphere in which taking care of the environment was not a high priority. Getting over that emotional hurdle is a process that many, myself included, experience when they first realize that the environment is important to them.
One obstacle I encountered (and still encounter often) is when some of the narratives I grew up with come out of the woodwork at random moments. For example, sometimes I still feel uncomfortable with the phrase “climate change,” despite caring a lot about this particular environmental threat. For those experiencing this, it’s more common than you might expect. You’re not alone.
Unlearning unhelpful narratives can be difficult in any case, and reassurance during the process is crucial. I think the biggest bout of reassurance I’ve ever received in regards to conservation was something Bishop Caussé said in his last General Conference talk: “Beyond being simply a scientific or political necessity, the care of the earth and of our natural environment is a sacred responsibility entrusted to us by God, which should fill us with a deep sense of duty and humility. It is also an integral component of our discipleship. How can we honor and love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ without honoring and loving Their creations?”
God is with us in this.
Advocating for Our Planet Without Guilting People or Feeling Obnoxious:
A lot of people worry that talking about and living in an Earth-friendly way will cause other people to feel like we’re guilt-tripping them, or getting political about it. To you who have these worries, I say this: the best way to spread awareness of the environment is a lot like the best way to spread the truth of the Gospel—by example.
Example doesn’t infringe on other peoples’ rights or ways of living, nor does it lecture or disturb those who are around it. Example does prompt curiosity, and, eventually, questions. If you’re like me, and are sensitive about topics that mean a lot to you, my best advice is to prepare yourself for these questions so that when they come, you’ll feel like you’re representing yourself—and your cause—in the manner in which best reflects what you feel.
If you feel comfortable and excited to share more about earth stewardship, by all means, do! I, personally, am going to share the fact that I wrote this post because it’s the kind of thing I’m excited to share and would genuinely, comfortably talk about. If it’s not genuine and it’s not comfortable, don’t pressure yourself into it.
What do I even do to start?
Starting on an environmental journey feels so overwhelming because the average human experience does not have the welfare of the world at large in mind. This makes living to protect the environment, paradoxically, a more difficult human experience. To make this transition a little easier, however, here’s a list of things that can help you get started!
- Use what already exists. Some examples are thrifting your clothes instead of getting them from stores, finding furniture off of Facebook marketplace instead of buying it new, or, (the classic) using tote bags you or family members already have instead of using disposable ones at the grocery store.
- Learn slowly. This is not to say that environmental information is unimportant, but it can be overwhelming. There’s so much out there to learn, from fast fashion vs. slow fashion to exploitative corporate practices to natural lawns vs. grass lawns, and everything in between. Learn at your own pace, and learn as much as you can.
- Get involved! You can search “my city/county/state environmentalist groups,” and a bunch of options should pop up! There is strength in numbers, especially when it comes to causes. Volunteering for an environmental nonprofit is an invaluable way to help! It can take many forms, from starting petitions to organizing cleanups to putting together a rally, but all are invaluable ways of fighting for conservation. Find out who your representatives are, on both a state and federal level. Feel free to reach out to them regarding issues that you’re passionate about; after all, that’s why they’re there.
- Be kind to yourself, and don’t be afraid to take your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so give yourself time when cultivating a sustainable lifestyle that works for you.
- Lastly, find some time to go out in nature. I think it’s vital to remember why these changes matter, and what we’re doing it for. We’re here to protect God’s greatest gift to each of us, and experiencing that gift as often as possible can bring us closer to Him.
We’re here to create a better world for each and every one of God’s children. This is both as figurative and as literal as you can possibly imagine. If you feel passionately about protecting God’s Earth and making it better for everyone on it, find what works for you. The Latter-day Saint Earth Stewardship website is www.ldsearthstewardship.org,and you can find more information there!
Phoebe Christensen lives in Utah, USA, and is currently studying English at UVU. Most nights, you’ll find her watching a show with her husband and dog. Phoebe is an avid crocheter, has almost finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring, and loves hiking.
Note: Blog posts are written by volunteer writers; the opinions of writers are their own and are not necessarily representative of Latter-day Saint Earth Stewardship.