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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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Do You Have To Change Your Life Entirely In Order To Stop Climate Change?

Climate change.  It’s big.  It’s scary.  It’s looming.  And we all just wish it would go away.  In fact, it’s easy to pretend it isn’t there, as we go about our lives the way we had before we knew.  Before we knew that each of our actions makes a difference to our planet, to our children and the way they will be able to live their lives.

Why don’t we take actions to change our way of living due to climate change? Is it because it isn’t personal, it seems far away, or it feels like we can’t make a difference on our own (so why bother trying)?  Is it because only crazy environmentalists reduce their carbon footprint low enough for it to really change anything?  Is it that we’re too busy, too poor, or too concerned about other things to spend the time and effort?  Is it because we think change doesn’t happen at an individual level, but rather, it’s up to the politicians to make laws that create change?

Have I found your reason yet?

I have reasons, too.  I’m not perfect, I falter.  Since I have had such a crazy schedule lately, I don’t have a lot of time to cook so I do eat frozen pizzas and take out lunches on occasion.  I do get in the car on a whim and drive to wherever we need to go sometimes.  And I definitely do turn on the air conditioning when I’m sweating and can’t think, saying to myself that I can’t save the world if my brain is frying from the heat!

But wait. It’s not all or nothing, right?  Any change in the positive direction is good change.

It’s ok to taake one step at a time.  And even to start by changing the things that will make you happier.  Just start by doing whatever you like to do, but do it in a way that emits less carbon.  For instance:

  • Do you like to cook? So spend the time to cook a meal with fresh, local ingredients that taste better!
  • Do you hate cleaning? Then throw out all the toxic stuff and just spray some vinegar and wipe.
  • Do you love walking? So walk the two miles to work, or to and from the store, or wherever else you need to go.
  • Can’t stand tap water? Instead of buying bottled water, find a water filter that attaches to your sink – it will likely taste better and be cheaper!

Do you see?  Any change is better than no change. Don’t worry about doing it all at once, don’t worry about changing everything you do.  Just change what will improve your quality of life.  Make your changes work for you – to make yourself happier and healthier.  Once you’re happier and healthier, the other changes might not look so hard – you never know!


This blog is full of small changes you can make which together all add up.  Make some of the changes, and then tell a friend about them, or even make changes together with your friend.  We can inspire our friends and families to change, which increases our own power to change the world and help stop climate change.


You don’t have to change your life entirely to stop climate change.  But you do have to start the change. Take a challenge here or at another blog, read a book about things you can do, whatever gets you going.  One step at a time.


Please Share Your Own Experiences!


For those of you who are far along in your lifestyle changes:  What worked for you? What got you to start changing the way you do things?


And for those who are thinking about it but haven’t done much to change the way you do things: What are your biggest barriers?  How can we help?


Blog Action Day 2009 will be the largest-ever social change event on the web. One day. One issue. Thousands of voices.  Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs, with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance.”  We have participated since 2007.

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12 comments to Do You Have To Change Your Life Entirely In Order To Stop Climate Change?

  • To be honest, what got me to change, initially, was reading Ehrlich’s book “Population Bomb” back when I was 12 years old. He put forth the idea that the growing population of humans on the planet were creating some really big problems because of the way we live (overconsumption, pollution, waste, etc.). While the overpopulation idea can be argued, and has been, forever, there is no doubt that the consumption of resources by at least some of the humans present already is beyond what the planet can handle ad infinitim. Hence the popularity of the Carbon Footprint quizzes which show how many earths it would take to support the current human population if everyone consumed at the rate of the person taking the quiz.

    In any case, when I read the book at age 12, it was a real eye-opener. I pledged to not add to the overpopulation problem. That turned out to be easy as I’m not very maternal! As I grew older and read more, I found there were many other choices I could make to benefit the planet as well as myself. Many of the small changes I’ve made over the years have improved my health and saved money, and as you say, some can be enjoyable.

    The biggest challenge we probably face currently is the feeling of isolation. We know very few other people, in person, that think about or care about these issues. There are lots of folks who work on one part of the big picture but seem oblivious to the other parts and think we’re nuts. Or they understand the environmental issues but have no grasp of economic issues/constraints or the social aspects of change. We just do what we can, share resources and information, and hope more people “get it” eventually.

  • I have to admit, I’ve made a lot of changes to my life, but I’m undergoing an existential crisis right now as to whether any of them *do* make a difference. But I guess I feel like even if they don’t actually make a difference in terms of climate change, that isn’t really a licence to over-consume.

  • I love the notion that you don’t have to change everything, that anything is something. It’s a good first step for those beginning their journey and a good reminder for those of us well on our way that we can do more. I started with food because I like to cook and eat. :) I then started gardening because that was fun too. Now, I’m into handmade things from repurposed materials – part of the Blog Action Day topic at our blog today. Those all make a difference.

    As far as personal environmentalism goes, my biggest challenge is the car. I’ve made lots of progress by grouping errands, looking for things locally, carpooling with one child and moving the other to a closer school so that it is a 5 minute drive instead of a 20 minute drive.

    Arduous makes a good point though. I can whittle my footprint down to almost nothing and what difference does it make? I’d argue that just by living this way, I’ve gotten a number of other people interested in living this way, raised awareness. Of course, even that is not enough if we don’t all mobilize, push for real change from the governments of the world, starting with our own.

  • As the Conservative voice in these parts, I think you are all being scared into manipulation robbing you of your personal power and tax dollars. Cap and trade was the biggest transparent tax on energy in a failing economy by manipulating people in the interest “saving the enviromnent”. Al Gore and his pothead son are getting rich when you buy carbon credits from his company from buying into his media scare tactics. The “sky is falling” mentality easily makes people part from their money and reason.

  • I do most all those frugal, unwasteful things. I’ve never liked to be wasteful and I prefer healthful rather than processed food. (Don’t get me wrong. There’s something to be said for some Fritos and a Pepsi.)However, I just don’t buy the whole “save the planet” deal.

    The forces of nature are so, so powerful that humans are nothing more than fleas on an elephant. Quick examples that come to mind are recent earthquakes and tsunamis. How about Katrina? Humans are just powerless against the forces of nature.

    Finally, I really do believe that the whole “green” thing is a HUGE marketing scheme. Nonetheless, I encourage everyone to be self reliant and frugal.

    PS – Red, you are not alone.

  • Allow me to take this time to disagree with my conservative friend, Red.

    At least you aren’t afraid to say what you think. I applaud that.

    That being said I couldn’t dissagree with your more. I don’t agree with what you said but I will go down arguing your right to say it!

    Anyway, For me the time to change was actually in High School. But the time I started to actually do some things that would be considered change would be a couple of years ago. And in difference to Red and Maybelline, I do think regular people can concstitute change. For one thing, sustainablitly movements aren’t for the green crowd. They are for the cheapskates among us who don’t like to spend money or spend more for something when something else will work better. And the road to self reliance is paved with a bunch of good intentions.

  • Rob:
    No matter what the motive, being frugal, sustainable, or whatever you want to call it is a positive thing. I believe the road pavement is made of actions not intentions.

    Nice comment.

  • Rob- I have a lot of respect for you. You are very handy and put a lot of thought into everything that you do.

    I live sustainably because my grandparents did to survive. Their hard work was rewarded when they grew their farm from scratch. Because they worked hard to provide for themselves and their family, they could provide nice things for their kids, their church, charities that contributed around the world and local community. It’s the “American Dream”. They thought locally and acted globally. I’m sure that’s how that saying goes. :)

  • I think I really started to change my life style after I read about plastics and the effect they had on the environment and our health. It made sense to me and I started doing away with plastic products as much as possible. I’m not perfect and plastic still creeps into my life, but I’ve come along way. That was almost 20 years ago. Since then I’ve made lots of other changes in my life style. I haven’t made them just because I believe in climate change though. There are many reasons for living a sustainable lifestyle.

  • [...] is a great conversation happening over here – first I wanted to thank you all for being so civil and kind in your disagreements – and second, I [...]

  • You know what? It’s really hard to live with a lot of people that don’t care at all about climate change or conserving energy or eating foods made from scratch. (I can’t really eat anything not made from scratch these days, as I’m avoiding gluten and it’s in everything. It’s just hard.)

    So, how can I convince people (that don’t have to pay for heating or electricity) that it’s good to conserve those things anyway?

    P.S. My parents are now getting a refund when they produce more energy (through solar panels) than they use, so that’s their motivation to conserve energy. PG&E wouldn’t give them a refund until California made a law to that effect. I was shocked by PG&E’s action there, but so glad now that I don’t have to keep pushing about conserving energy. It’s almost like passive income! Ha.

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