In the spirit of Halloween, the Sustainability Office wants to talk about something we find particularly spooky: eco-anxiety.

Eco-anxiety, or climate anxiety, is the distress, anger and other negative emotions that arise in response to the impacts of climate change. This manifests in many different ways, such as being fearful of severe weather events or feeling hopeless and overwhelmed by how much work needs to be done to secure a safe, sustainable future.

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The continuous headlines we see – featuring new data claiming humanity is doomed or a looming deadline of how long we have to clean up our act before it is too late – are frightening, and make us feel, at times, like there is no use in trying at all.

This week we’re talking about the closest we’ve come to finding the cure to eco-anxiety: participating in community climate action.

The cure

Climate anxiety can often feel extremely individual. How can our individual actions truly have any difference at all? Why is it worth trying?

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Contributing to community climate action is a great way to watch your individual action turn collective, and realize that there are a lot of people working together to protect our future.

Practicing community climate action

Maine’s climate change space is vibrant, with plentiful opportunities to contribute to climate action in your community. Here are a few ways to participate:

1.) The Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Ecosystem Investigation Network allows residents to participate in coastal community resilience planning by collecting data in their community. Learn more about how to get involved at https://investigate.gmri.org/.

2.) The South Portland Land Trust is always searching for volunteers to assist in projects such as trail maintenance and clean up days. For more information, visit www.southportlandlandtrust.org/get-involved.

3.) Engage with pre-existing sustainability programs in South Portland, such as our free food waste recycling program or Electrify Everything!.

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Dropping off your food waste at one of our drop off sites or switching to electric heating and cooling are both tangible ways to contribute to city-wide sustainability efforts and be a part of something bigger than your individual actions. To learn more about sustainability office programs visit www.southportland.org/departments/sustainability-office.

Connect with us

Staying connected with entities such as environmental non-profits and your local sustainability office is a great way to ease eco-anxiety by recognizing that community is all around us.

Here are a few ways to stay connected with us:

1.) Sign up for our One Climate Future monthly newsletter at oneclimatefuture.org. The newsletter provides information about our monthly Coffee and Climate, upcoming events and useful resources.

2.) Follow the South Portland Sustainability Office on Instagram @soposustainability for information on events, programs, and the happenings of our office.

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3.) Reach out to sustainability staff directly. We want to hear about your concerns and connect you to programs and resources that you are interested in. Learn more about sustainability staff members at www.southportland.org/departments/sustainability-office/about-team/ or reach out to Mia at [email protected] to get connected to us.

Despite it being the season to indulge in all things spooky, stick to scary movies and haunted houses and lay your eco-anxiety to rest. There is a lot to be done, but we can do it together.

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Mia Ambroiggio is a part-time member of the South Portland Sustainability Office. She can be reached at [email protected]

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