The climate crisis and self-esteem: it’s all connected


Josephine Velo, Executive Director


If you have ever wondered what you can do to help climate change, there is hope. Individual environmentalism can be very rewarding on the path to reducing waste, and we can also gain the benefits of confidence, individuality, and contentment.

Self-esteem is essential in solving the climate crisis because it will give people the confidence they need to make changes.

These days, a common element of self-esteem comes with what you wear and whether what you wear is on trend. Fast fashion is booming, especially with teenagers longing for the newest shirt or the shoes that they have seen all over the internet. Fast fashion occurs when clothing is created to meet a recent trend, so that consumers like Loy Norrix students can buy cheaply made clothing as trends show up.

Shopping second hand is becoming more popular today, but still isn’t the main way most teenagers shop. When our self-esteem increases, this craving for fast fashion will naturally decrease.

According to a study in ABC News by Mark Jewell called “Sadness can make you spend more”, “Sadness leads people to become more focused on themselves, causing the person to feel that they and their possessions are worth little. That feeling increases willingness to pay more – presumably to feel better about themselves.”

This means that happiness and high self-esteem will reduce the urge to spend money and buy new items, which will decrease the consumption of fast fashion.

If more teenagers buy only what they need and what makes them happy, then they won’t feel the need to go along with fast fashion cycles that change every month and the consumerism that is always marketed to us.

According to Science Daily, “Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in ever-greater amounts.”

It hurts the environment and takes far too much money from the already thin wallets of many high schoolers.

According to Green Tumble’s “The Negative Effects of Consumerism” article, “As the demand for goods increases, the need to produce these goods also increases. This leads to more pollutant emissions, increased land-use and deforestation, and accelerated climate change.”

Our demand is what drives the market. It’s scary to think about, but that power can be used for good.

Consumerism directly damages the environment, and consumerism is driven by the craving for outer fulfillment. Everyone has the ability to discover what makes them happy. If a certain style of clothing is what makes you happy, buy it second hand and love it until it’s unwearable.

“If we could reduce our consumption levels by just a fraction of what they are now, we could dramatically change the lives of poverty stricken people around the world.” wrote Green Tumble in “The Negative Effects of Consumerism.”

There are those that disagree with the claim that fixing environmental problems is not up to individuals. This cannot be true because our collective lifestyle has driven climate change. With this in mind, our changes now will affect the state of the earth onward. Our consumption can have many negative impacts but when handled better it can make big changes for everyone.

The beauty of using less and ignoring consumerism is that it can be done so inexpensively, which makes it accessible to many people. The newest product is not needed. In the end, a mindset of consumerism is what has brought a climate crisis upon us. Buying more is not going to be the way we get ourselves out.

It is vital to begin listening in to discover what we really love, and honoring our interests and individuality. Becoming confident and finding joy from other sources like friends, pets, nature, a significant other, music, hobbies, sports, art, or your family are all long term solutions to the low self-esteem that is driving consumerism, and therefore climate change in our world today.

Encourage your families to buy food staples in bulk and ask for paper bags at grocery lines or bring reusables. Head to the thrift store next time you need a pair of shoes, jeans, room decorations, winter clothing, jewelry, or more. It’s surprising how much money you can save, and how thrifty you can be just by tuning into your own thoughts instead of what consumerism convinces us that we need.

In today’s environmental situation, our self-worth affects even the safety of our planet. We can’t drive change without confidence in ourselves, or without the belief that collectively we do have the power.