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Why businesses need to help with staff and customer climate anxiety

Written by
Poppy Stringer
5
min read
April 11, 2023

With climate change constantly in the media and all the potential issues it causes, we totally understand here at SKOOT how difficult it is not to worry about the gravity of the climate crisis when continuously presented with alarming facts and figures on a daily basis. 

This has now become to be known as “climate anxiety”. A term used to describe the emotional and psychological distress experienced by individuals who are concerned about the consequences of climate change. 

Given the gravity of the situation, it’s not surprising that more and more customers and staff have a sense of climate anxiety. 

The University of Bath conducted a Climate Action Survey in which they found that 19% of students and 25% of staff were “extremely worried” about climate change and 37% of students said they were “fairly worried”. 

The university had more participants than the previous year suggesting more people are interested in climate action and making a change which can be seen as a good thing. 

But they also found that climate worry was at a higher percentage than in previous years showing that climate anxiety is gradually increasing as the climate crisis worsens.

Whilst the environment and climate change have been present since the 1900s and have been prevalent parts of presidencies and governments for a number of years, it has become mainstream in the media much more recently. It is front and centre of brands, film, hospitality and even celebrity culture which is increasing climate anxiety. It is unlikely these feelings of anxiety will just disappear, in the same way, climate change will not.  

However, there are steps that we can take to alleviate these feelings and take action to address climate change. 

1. Acknowledge the emotions and support others and be kind  

Repressing your feelings or that of others will not make them disappear, your subconscious is smarter than that, and they will simply manifest themselves in different ways and most likely worsen. 

It will also mean that your staff and customers will resent the fact that you are invalidating how they feel. 

Recognising consciously how you are feeling or how others might be feeling helps ensure there feels like a support network. 

Worry is a normal and healthy psychological response to our current society, one filled with so much change and uncertainty and as the survey (one of millions) demonstrated, you are not alone in these worries. 

By accepting these emotions it is easier to actively take steps to lessen them.

2. Focus on the positives 

It is easy to read the negative headlines in the news and in the media and jump to the worst conclusions. 

Whilst it is undeniable that there is a major climate crisis and this has negative consequences on our planet, there are also now so many governments, businesses, and individuals focused on making a change, something that wasn't happening before.

For example, the Paris Agreement of 2015 involved 196 different countries who all made a commitment to limit global warming by all means possible. 

Some of the biggest brands such as Patagonia, Reformation even H&M are sustainable or are making the necessary changes to do so. Whilst seeing more climate change headlines can be scary, it is also a positive as it means more people are seeing it and awareness is increasing, meaning that change is being made. 

3. Get involved and lean in

As a business, restaurant, hotel or individual one way to really help is to take an active and responsible approach to your carbon emissions.

There are so many things that you can do to help the climate crisis and subsequently reduce the anxiety of your customers and staff, by making a change and taking control of the issue. It may not seem like much but all our small actions can have a big impact.

Here are a number of easy ways to get involved 

  • Request a pre-loved company policy for technology such as laptops and phones.
  • Buy second-hand clothes. Look at places like Vinted, ASOS marketplace, Depop and charity shops to get not only great prices but to reduce landfill waste too. Even birthday presents and company gifts can be preloved purchases.
  • Source sustainable and recycled merchandise.
  • Participate in beach or park clean-ups as a community. Community events are a great way of bringing people together around a common goal or value, so participate or even organise a clean up of litter to make an immediate positive impact on the environment.
  • Recycle your plastics. Ensure that you are putting the right rubbish in the correct bin to help ensure that your local shop, takeaway and council can recycle as much as possible. 
  • Eat more plant-based. Ensure that at work every company event has at least 50% vegetarian and at least once a week have a vegetarian day. Animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing your consumption of meat and dairy products can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Choose sustainable products. When sourcing items for work or shopping, choose products that are sustainably sourced, produced, and packaged. Look for certifications like Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) to ensure that products meet sustainability standards.
  • Start a tree planting scheme with SKOOT for birthdays, staff promotions or for every sale.
  • Counter your carbon with SKOOT Life for carbon-positive living and plant trees and support carbon projects.

Whilst climate anxiety can seem overwhelming it comes from a place of care and a love of nature, don't lose sight of why you, your staff or your customers care so much in the first place and support them and take responsibility for your own emissions. 

Hopefully, these tips can help you cope with the feelings and make making a positive change seem less daunting. 

Poppy Stringer

Our eco-conscious blog writer. Passionate about sustainability, she's on a mission to combat ecosystem decline with insightful blogs, driven by her concern for the planet's future.