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Unplugging Connection; First Steps in Taking the Pledge

By: Connor Vago

August 2nd, 2023

The following is a piece written through the perspective of ClimateActionWR volunteer and graduating university student, Connor Vago. We know that it feels like bad climate news is constant, and it is easy to feel eco-anxiety. It can be helpful to slow down and reflect on how climate action and wellness interconnect. We hope that this piece can give some inspiration as you continue to live sustainably.

Much of the work done at ClimateActionWR is tailored towards the promotion of individual and community action for sustainable and low carbon lifestyles. A helpful starting point when first beginning this journey is asking the question of “why”.  Why do I want to make a lifestyle change, and where does my motivation for climate action come from? There are many reasons for climate consciousness, this short piece will be tailored to those seeking to better understand the ways they can personally connect to the environments around them. How might acknowledging your connections influence the ways you live your life? Whatever it may be, however small or large, I’d like you to keep them in mind when reading the remainder of this piece. 

Connectivity with the environments around us is becoming increasingly important, not only for environmental sustainability but for human sustainability as well. The call to action to ‘make the pledge’ (Climate Action’s 90 day pledge for sustainable behavior changes) can be thought of not only in terms of promoting emissions reduction but also as promoting healthy living. The pledge, in its simplest form, promotes healthy living through carbon reduction strategies such as active transportation alternatives which can include walking and cycling. 

Given the changing nature of modern work and social interaction the necessity for online connectivity is growing which promotes an increasingly sedentary (inactive) lifestyle. As of 2022 Stats Canada measured an average total sedentary time for Canadian adults at 9.8 hours per day and only about 27% of adults met the recommended average for a healthy lifestyle. Further, the changing nature of interaction requires an increase in daily time plugged-in; considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the carry-over of work from home measures, screen time and individual energy consumption patterns are also on the rise. In addition to the previous statistic it was further found that 3.2 of these sedentary hours were spent in front of a screen. As a student and young professional the average screen time of 3.2 hours a day, in my opinion, seems quite low. Whether you agree with my conclusion, it seems many Canadians are adopting an over-connected, over plugged-in and ultimately sedentary lifestyle. Overly “plugged-in” lifestyles promote increased individual energy consumption and are increasingly damaging to physical/mental wellbeing. Increased screen time (time plugged-in) can lead to feelings of social-isolation, guilt and overcompensation in working aged adults. 

Nature is good for us; it has the power to provide both long- and short-term mental and physical health benefits. Nature is not just wilderness, but it is backyards, patios, parks and green spaces. I challenge you to take the time to consider in what ways unplugging may help you reconnect with the people and spaces around you. In turn, you may find that a pledge to ‘return to nature’ may affect your personal wellbeing. It’s not simply in the name of environmental sustainability, but also as previously mentioned, in the name of personal sustainability and personal wellbeing. 

Reducing energy consumption is beneficial for both the individual and the environment. Un-plug in any way you see fit, but I urge you to try and unplug. Find ways to reduce your personal consumption at home or work, turn your appliances off, take breaks and go outside and maybe start that garden you’ve been dreaming of. Action is a funny thing, and our call to action is one directed at reducing carbon footprints. Unplugging can be a good first step in taking climate action, one that can be explored in many different and accessible ways. Other ways you can practice “unplugging” might be by asking yourself if you need to run your AC when the windows are open or when you’re out of town. Or as previously mentioned, through active transportation; ask the question “do i need to drive my car to destination ‘X’”. Physical activity of any sort can be extremely influential on both climate action and your wellbeing at the same time. 

In the end, “unplugging” is not just about changing your consumption patterns but also changing the ways we connect. I hope you can find your way of promoting climate action through promoting your individual wellbeing. How will you participate in preserving that which is “unplugged”?

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