The ABCs of Climate Resilience

Cardboard protest signs says "ECO NOT EGO"

Climate change isn’t going anywhere. The latest IPCC report detailed that humans need to change NOW to curb the effects of climate change. As the climate crisis increases in magnitude, communities across the world must work together to adapt and support one another. Climate resiliency incorporates practical life skills and relationship building to continue working under climate stressors. In order to create effective, widespread change, individuals must change not just themselves but the systems they use and rely on. This could include economic systems, politics, food, and more.

*Note: The following list is not exhaustive and is not meant to be followed word for word (unless you want to :)). Instead, think about your values and how you can change your actions to align with them. 

A: Act now. There is no time to wait for other people to make the changes you want to see. It’s up to each and every one of us to invest our attention, time, and energy to avert climate crisis and work toward a better, more sustainable future.

B: Borrow goods instead of buying. Borrowing items you don’t use a lot, like niche sports equipment or power tools, lowers manufacturing impacts on the climate and reduces waste. Create a sharing economy by reaching out to friends and family and exchanging items. Your local library or Parks department might also have a borrowing system for tools, toys, games, and more. 

C: Contact your representatives on a regular basis. Let them know which policies you’d like them to support or oppose and why. 

D: Donate your money, time, and/or attention to projects you are passionate about. Even putting aside $5 or 5 minutes to a cause can make an impact and help support your community. 

E: Eat less meat, especially beef. This food pyramid shows the environmental impacts of foods, with beef being the food with the highest emissions. Try to replace a few of your meat meals with other protein sources like vegetables, beans, and nuts.   

F: Find the people who care. The truth is that not everyone will join the climate fight. And that’s okay. Not everyone has to. Instead of trying to change the minds and habits of people who aren’t interested, focus your energy on the people around you who do want to participate in the movement. 

G: Grow your own food. This could be as small as a can of herbs or as big as a multi-plot garden-- every bit helps! Not only can growing your own food cut grocery costs and potential carbon emissions from food transportation and processing, but gardening also can improve your mental health and connection to others. 

H: Hold corporations accountable for their actions. Many corporations depend on individual consumer guilt to distract their buyers while they continue pumping carbon emissions into our atmosphere. Research the companies you often buy from and decide if you want to continue supporting them, or if there are better, more local alternatives. 

I: Invest in environmentally and socially responsible groups. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing can direct your investments to supporting more equitable groups and in return potentially give you high returns. 

J: Join a group in your community that aligns with your values. Examples include volunteering at a non-profit, joining a student organization, or simply meeting up with your neighbors. Check out campus events and Duluth community programs for ideas

K: Keep storm drains clean. Stormwater (the excess melt from snow and rain storms) is not treated in Duluth as it makes its way through our creeks and rivers all the way to the big lake. Therefore, it’s important to clear leaves, trash, and other debris out of our streets where storm drains are located. 

L: Support your local farms. Researchers from UMD have found that it’s possible to grow all of Duluth’s food right here in Duluth. Supporting local agriculture reduces emissions, boosts the local economy, and ensures your community has access to fresh, healthy foods. Champion farming by visiting farmers' markets, signing up for a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) subscription, or volunteering at the UMD Land Lab

M: Meet your neighbors. Yep, those people you cross paths with on your way to work or class, or with whom you exchange awkward smiles. Take the time to introduce yourself to them, learn their names, and check in on them on a regular basis. 

N: Notice more of the world around you. Life gets busy, and it can be easy to go through daily motions without picking your head up. Take time to notice how the air feels and smells, or what colors the trees look like. Strengthening your relationship with nature can keep you more grounded and present not just in the climate fight, but in other parts of your life as well. 

O: Open conversations about climate with other people in your life. These conversations don’t have to include scientific-backed data analysis; instead, they can be as simple as expressing your hopes and fears for the climate, or voicing what you’ve noticed around you. Try to keep these conversations respectful and maintain an open mind. 

P: Pressure local systems around you to change to sustainable alternatives. Individual change is great, but we need to also challenge the systems around us to create climate momentum. 

Q: Question the systems around you and how you participate in them. Capitalism is one that often uses individual consumer guilt to cover up the lack of corporation responsibility. Consider how we got to where we are today and how only some people benefit from these systems.  

R: Release your climate guilt. It is normal to have anxiety surrounding the current state of our planet and our future. Validate your feelings of fear, stress, and guilt, but don’t let them define your actions. Climate guilt often paralyzes us from acting and can do more harm than good. 

S: Support BIPOC-led groups and movements powered by the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups. Climate justice = social justice. 

T: Talk to someone about your feelings. Use your support network or work with a professional therapist. Mental health impacts every facet of your life, and nearly 50% of Americans have found that climate change is negatively affecting their mental health. 

U: Use your voice to have conversations with people in your life about climate change. Talking to your friends, family, roommates, neighbors, and coworkers about climate change can create a network of people who are concerned about the same issue. Or, at the very least, it can help plant the seed. For help with starting these conversations, read our guide on How to Have a Conversation about Climate Change

V: Vote with both your voice and money. It’s especially important to vote in all of your local elections because your voice has a bigger impact on the decisions that will directly affect your life and community. You can also support local businesses over big corporations to help keep more economic support in your community.  

W: Walk instead of driving, when you can. You can also bike, take public transportation, or carpool whenever possible to reduce carbon emissions. 

X: X-amine your food habits (it’s a stretch, work with us). Is there food being wasted in your house? Do you often find you take more food at the Dining Center than you can eat? If so, try taking less food each meal and only grabbing seconds after your plate is clean. 

Y: (Don’t) Yield! The climate fight is a long and often strenuous process. Instead of letting feelings of stress, anxiety, anger, and fear power you, look for the good. Groups of people around the world continue to fight for a better world. Look at your own community and allow yourself to feel gratitude and determination.

Z: Zone in on what you are passionate about and use your skills to enact specific change. What are you good at? What is the work that needs doing? What brings you joy? You can create a venn diagram following this model to help focus your energy on changes you want to see made.