A Sensible Approach to Authentic Environmentalism

If you truly think reducing your carbon footprint is paramount to the planet’s survival, do these things:

  • Live in the smallest home possible
  • Sell your car and ride a bike, or drive the smallest car possible (good luck in the thick of winter and on long drives)
  • Sell most of your stuff and survive with minimal food, clothes, and things

If you are a rational, modern, enlightened individual, read on.

Go outside and spend time in nature

Hike trails with your dog and friends. Listen to bees, observe birds, inhale oxygen-rich air, and feel the sun and wind. In The Nature Fix (Williams, 2017) Florence Williams cited Japanese studies showing that spending just 5-7 minutes outside in nature (trees, mountains, streams) relaxed study participants and lowered their stress levels. Clearer thinking and better decision making is another result noted by Stephen Kaplan and Marc Berman in their Perspectives on Psychological Science article “Directed attention as a common resource for executive functioning and self-regulation.”

In-person socialization feeds our souls. Image by Santa3 from Pixabay

Volunteer to maintain a trail with your local mountain biking, hiking, or trail running club. Increased, in-person socialization and acts of service lead to overall happiness and a sense of well being (Taylor-Gadsby, 2017).

How do happiness and self-esteem help the environment? Think about it. When you feel and see tangible ways you affect your world, you don’t need to buy stuff to feel good. 

Buy quality, buy less

High-quality things last longer and create less trash because they don’t need frequent replacement. They will not be cheap, so offset it by buying less. The disposable American mindset, about people and things, creates the waste and pollution we want to avoid. Advertising urges us to BUY, but we don’t need things to be happy.

Mend or repair instead of throwing away.


  • Old plastic containers can hold plants or doodads
  • Give used clothes to shelters or friends with younger children
  • Cut up old towels and t-shirts for washable napkins
  • Make dog toys out of old jeans (at least you’ll know what they are made of!)

Boycott China

It’s the largest polluter and worst human rights violator in the world. Millions of Chinese Muslims are being tortured, brainwashed, and forced to make stuff we buy. Enormous amounts of fossil fuels go into manufacturing and transporting Chinese imports.

Adopt a rescue dog

Save a life in exchange for boundless love. Get it fixed. Pick up its poop. Walk it. A lot. Cesar Millan says long daily walks help calm and constructively direct dogs’ energy. “Every cell in your dog’s body is crying out for a walk,” said Millan in Cesar’s Way: the Natural Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems.

Eat real food

Image by silviarita from Pixabay

Your grandma should be able to identify all the ingredients. Less processing, less chemicals, healthier you.

Carpool and use mass transit

While you wait for your ride or relax as a stress-free passenger, use your freed-up time and attention to:

  • Read a book
  • Write a letter
  • Work on your blog or business
  • Make friends

Take the bus to attend a rally. Driving in a personal vehicle to an environmental protest doesn’t make sense.

Reduce government waste

Before making more laws or regulations. Cut. The. Fat. Email your elected officials and urge reduction of government waste and entitlements that spend our tax money, raise taxes, and use fossil fuels in office space, air conditioning, office supplies, and road wear from excessive government employees commuting to work. Imagine the gasoline reduction and road wear if ALL government employees commuted by mass transit—including senators.

Say “NO” to Starbucks

Disposable cups. Noise pollution. Poor service, especially if you’re a police officer. Baristas treated like machines, not people. Who needs it?

Shop Made in the USA

Image by Yerson Retamal from Pixabay
  • American companies must meet environmental regulations for hazardous chemical disposal and handling, as well as humane and safe labor conditions. China does not.
  • Fewer fossil fuels are used to transport domestic goods.
  • More domestic manufacturing creates decent-paying jobs so people can think about living in safe, clean neighborhoods instead of survival in dirty, crowded ones. Raising socio-economic levels domestically increases people’s desire to take care of their environment.

Turn off the tv

  • It reduces your awareness of life, the environment, and other people.
  • It reduces critical and creative thinking.
  • It shortens your enjoyment of life because you don’t notice time passing.
  • Fossil fuels were used to make the monitor or large screen tv, the show you’re watching, and the unhealthy snack you’re consuming while watching.

Thank you for seriously considering the impact of your actions and words and not merely following the parade of environmental parrots and puppets. I appreciate your contribution to the big picture of healthier, happier living.


Pick just one to try each month. This list is exhausting and sometimes unpleasant. Putting your attention and energy into proactive activities instead of destructive, angry activities helps the planet by adding positive, not negative energy, into the environmental conversation.

Oh ho! You thought this was going to be a put-your-glass-and-aluminum-in-the-blue bin article. You already know that. There are a lot more meaningful things we can do for ourselves and the planet. Anger, money, and righteousness don’t solve most problems. Constructive actions and intentions do.


Kaplan S., Berman M. G. (2010). Directed attention as a common resource for executive functioning and self-regulation. Perspectives on Psychological Science 5, 43–57.

Taylor-Gadsby, Kathleen. “Volunteering: A Formula For Help And Happiness.” Forbes Magazine, 16 October 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/10/16/volunteering-a-formula-for-help-and-happiness/#3f0860e13cdc.

Williams, Florence. The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2017. Print.

Featured image by Мария Корзенникова from Pixabay

2 thoughts on “A Sensible Approach to Authentic Environmentalism”

  1. You mean flying to an environmental summit on a private jet then arriving in an entourage of armored limousines and SUV’s is not sensible? Those people are more important, smarter and better than the rest of us so they should do that. And make all the decisions that affect us. NOT!


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