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This week’s New Scientist features a useful article which outlines 8 ways to combat eco-anxiety (‘Stressed about climate change? Eight tips for managing eco-anxiety’, published 21 October 2019).  Its author, Penny Sarchet, recounts snippets from a recent UK Council for Psychotherapy meeting about the rising phenomenon: Sarah Niblock’s opening speech statement that eco-anxiety should NOT be classified as an illness, as in fact, it is a very reasonable and logical response to the current crisis (on this, see also ‘If we label eco-anxiety as an illness, climate denialists have won’, New Scientist, 9 October 2019); and that many at the conference “stressed the benefits of agency – feeling capable of actively doing something”, whilst acknowledging this is insufficient to mitigate climate catastrophe without significant government action.

We recommend you read the full article here.

Below we outline how getting involved in Low Carbon West Oxford’s activities, and in particular in our new ACT Now programme, can help you do all the 8 things on the list.

1.      Live more in alignment with your values

Full list of confirmed ACT Now events – free & open to all

At LCWO, we are well aware of the limits of change that focusses just on lifestyle; this has been the topic of some discussion in recent times as we work to keep our organisational strategy for change up to date.  That said, we also see the value in empowering individuals to engage with their own everyday life choices and so work to provide up-to-date and accurate information to enable people to live more in alignment with their values.

Our ACT Now programme includes a series of free and open workshops with local experts; each workshop explores a different aspect of lifestyle (the first, home energy; the second, food; then transport, money and more) which has an impact on your own personal emissions.  We will also spend time at each session looking beyond lifestyle, to campaigns and other activities in which we can get involved to be part of creating deeper change beyond our homes and lifestyles.

2.      Give your home an energy health check

The programme includes a FREE one to two hour visit from a home energy assessor;  the expert assessor walks around your home with you, advising on changes you might like to make your home as energy efficient and comfortable as possible – and making smaller changes, like fitting draft excluders, low energy lightbulbs and radiator reflector panels there and then for free, as part of the service.  This is an extremely popular service, and worth over £130 per household.

Following the visit, you will receive a report of what was discussed and access to an additional small grant of £100 to help you achieve some of the smaller measures (please note, this small grant is for residents of West Oxford only due to charity rules; however, the visit and rest of the programme is free to all).  LCWO will also connect you to Cosy Homes Oxfordshire, giving you instant access to a raft of recommended suppliers for larger works in the home.

3.      Cut back on flying, especially if you are a frequent flyer

All ACT Now participants calculate their carbon footprint with a trained volunteer.  This helps you to fully understand the impact of your choices, including flights.  This service is confidential, and your results will not be shared with other participants unless you want them to be.  In combination with our workshop on transport, we hope you will have all relevant information at your fingertips.  The aim is not to shame; the aim is to give you information so you can make your own decisions.

4.      Don’t feel ashamed

Shame is not part of what we offer.  You are free to share whatever information you want to with other participants throughout the ACT Now process, and all feedback from the volunteer helping you do your carbon footprint, to our expert workshop facilitators, will be offered in the spirit of non-judgement.  Likewise, judgement of other participants’ lifestyles, political views and choices during the programme will not be tolerated.  We are all in this together, and we are here to do what we can, based on having the information we receive through the process.

5.      Focus your efforts on changing systems, not yourself

As stated above, we do see some value in understanding your own lifestyle impacts; however, this programme is different from LCWO programmes in the past, in that is seeks to look beyond individual action, helping participants to understand and identify opportunities for powerful collective action.  One of our workshops will focus specifically on how we can maximise our leverage – and it will be up for members of the programme to come up with ideas of things they would like to do as a group (like lobbying), with our support.  We will also spend regular time exploring existing campaigns and activities happening locally and beyond, to enable ACT Now participants to plug into things already in motion which pique their interest.

6.      Find like-minded people

Yes, a community of like-minded individuals is a good thing – and that’s what LCWO aims to provide through the ACT Now programme, and through membership and support of its other work and activities.  Why not join us to plant 525 trees on Oatlands Rec on Sunday 24th November, for example?! Bring cake and enthusiasm, and we’ll provide the rest.  Full details here: www.lowcarbonwestoxford.org.uk/event/west-oxford-tree-planting-come-join

7.      Protect and nurture local green spaces

See above re our November tree planting! And whilst your at it, why not try our West Oxford Tree Trail, or copy our idea and make your own if you live somewhere else (here are some more for inspiration).  Also, keep an eye out for other events which celebrate our green spaces – picnics and work parties at Kingfisher Corner; wassailing at Hogacre Common Eco Park; dawn chorus tours and more.

8.      Talk about the changes you make

Through ACT Now, we aim to provide a space for participants to share expertise, experience, challenges, at every stage of the process.  In addition, we will be running a workshop specifically exploring how we talk about climate change and the feelings it evokes on May the 9th.  As well as programme-specific opportunities, LCWO runs regular ‘Talk & Walk’ events with local eco-psychologist Ruth Finar.

Come and join ACT Now.  Face this environmental crisis head on and get active.  You will feel better if you do.  And the time to ACT is Now.


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