2022 DIY learning kit: How to sustainably educate yourself about the environment (without sinking into a doom spiral)
Here at Geartrade we're passionate about the planet, we strive towards smaller carbon footprints as we take to the trails which is why we work hard to continue to be a Carbon Neutral Certified brand. We dream of long-lasting gear, fewer factory smokestacks, and more money in your pockets.
But the truth is, how news is presented and accessed today has changed significantly in the last two decades. “These changes have often been detrimental to general mental health,” Graham Davey, a professor emeritus of psychology at Sussex University in the UK and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, told TIME Magazine. A survey from the American Psychological Association concurs, finding that “more than half of Americans say the news causes them stress, and many report feeling anxiety, fatigue or sleep loss as a result.”
Reality can be exhausting, and sometimes traumatizing. Instead of attaching yourself to the news (sure, staying informed on current events is important, but only to a degree), use these resources to educate yourself about the planet at your own pace. With this background knowledge, you’ll be able to better contextualize climate news without falling into a doom spiral.
Years of Living Dangerously, 2014, directed by Joel Bach
(Currently available on Amazon, The Years Project, and YouTube)
For an overview of climate change and its challenges to humanity, check out the two eight-episode seasons of Year of Living Dangerously. This series addresses more than 30 topics revolving around global warming in different parts of the globe. Expert climate scientists and celebrities alike — Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver and more — cover a range of “climate factors and impacts, including biodiversity, coral bleaching, deforestation, drought, extreme weather, gender and racial inequalities, ocean acidification and sea-level rise.”
Story of Stuff, 2009, directed by Louis Fox
(Currently available on YouTube)
Written by Annie Leonard, this funny 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled animated film looks at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. Did you know the U.S. has only 5% of the world’s population, but consumes 30% of the world’s resources and creates 30% of the world’s waste? The Story of Stuff exposes connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, calling us to come together to create a more just and sustainable world. “It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.”
Meltdown, 2021, directed by Fredric Golding
(Currently available on Amazon and RedBox)
If you liked Chasing Ice (the 2012 documentary about the world’s melting ice sheets), you’ll enjoy this tribute to the work of Arctic photographer Lynn Davis. Anthony Leiserowitz—founder and director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and host of radio show Climate Connections—learned about Davis’s work when Climate Connections produced a small piece about the artist; he was impressed and arranged to meet Davis in Greenland the following year. Meltdown blends art and science, showcasing “awe-inspiring beauty tinged with sadness and a bit of terror as the full consequences of humanity’s impact on the planet—including Greenland’s icescapes—sink in.”
Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, 2019, directed by Judith Helfand
(Currently available on Amazon, Google Play, PBS-Independent Lens, and Vimeo)
Environmental politics and policies in the U.S. are often distorted by long-standing inequities. Centered in Cooked is the 1995 summer heatwave that crippled Chicago, killing nearly 800 people, mostly in poorer Black and brown neighborhoods. Data shows climate change will make heat waves more frequent and more severe, and to prepare for this difficult reality, authorities and community leaders cannot ignore the systemic inequalities of the nation’s zip codes.
Generation Green New Deal, 2020, directed by Sam Eilertsen
(Currently available on Vimeo)
Generation Green New Deal recounts the collective efforts of The Sunrise Movement, the climate activist organization that college students Sara Blazevik and Varshini Prakash founded in 2017. The following year, when the Democratic Party was elected as the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, The Sunrise Movement capitalized on the opportunity, quickly mobilizing demonstrations in several cities. Their efforts helped put Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA)’s ambitious Green New Deal on the national agenda. Through the 2020 US presidential election, The Sunrise Movement continued its efforts, and today the organization plays a critical role in the U.S.’s climate story.
Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World, 2021, directed by Rob Liddell
(Currently available on PBS)
Over three hour-long episodes, Greta Thunberg travels around the globe, exploring and explaining science as she meets with leading climate scientists. She shows viewers the first-hand consequences of climate change, and confronts the complexity of what’s required to make change happen.
2040, 2019, directed by Damon Gameau
(Currently available on Apple, Google Play, Hulu, Together Films, Vudu, and YouTube)
One way to communicate the realities of climate change is to imagine how our daily future lives might be affected by today’s actions (or inactions). This film, set in 2040, asks viewers to imagine climate change has been “solved” using only technologies already known today. Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau works with experts in five different areas—electrical power, transportation, agriculture, aquaculture and education—to piece together a plausible 2040 world wherein his 24-year-old daughter might thrive. “Part nuts-and-bolts documentary (which relies on Project Drawdown) and part family sitcom, 2040 succeeds and entertains.”
Doughnut Economics, 2018, directed by TED
(Currently available on TED.com)
After An Inconvenient Truth premiered in 2006, more researchers and filmmakers began looking more closely at the economics underlying both climate change and systemic inequality. Kate Raworth, a self-described “renegade economist” and author of Doughnut Economics, uses a TED Talk—where she says “a healthy economy should be designed to thrive, not grow”—to lay out the principles of a circular economy. “The challenge, she explains, is to ensure that all people have what they need to lead healthy, safe and fulfilling lives without taking more from Earth than its ecosystems can sustainably provide.” Raworth’s talk presents an inspiring (and plausible!) solution.
The IE Agenda, a magazine that brings together art, interviews, photography, research, and data with a focus on intersectional environmentalism. “In sharing these stories we hope to bring optimism into our efforts towards climate justice, and help folks develop an authentic, holistic understanding of intersectional environmentalism.”
The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet. (Forthcoming March 2022.) “This primer on intersectional environmentalism aims to educate the next generation of activists on creating meaningful, inclusive, and sustainable change.” Written by the Intersectional Environmentalist founder, Leah Thomas, the book introduces the intersection between environmentalism, racism, and privilege while also acknowledging a fundamental truth: we cannot save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people—especially those most often unheard. “This book is simultaneously a call to action, a guide to instigating change for all, and a pledge to work towards the empowerment of all people and the betterment of the planet.”
Courses from the Slow Factory, an open education institute, independent research lab, and regenerative design incubator that’s “catalyzing systemic change and climate positive solutions for regenerative social and environmental justice. Most traditional education was––and still is––designed to create a consumer class of workers willing to ride the train of environmental nihilism and human exploitation to its final destination: climate catastrophe, cultural erasure, ethnic cleansing, and societal breakdown. Slow Factory created Open Edu to cultivate the critical thinking and knowledge to dismantle harmful systems. This free and accessible series of anti-colonial, intersectional classes center the voices and perspectives of People of the Global Majority. Open Edu is more than a school. It is a practice of collective liberation.”
All That We Can Save (2021), a bestselling anthology of writings by 60 women at the forefront of the climate movement who are harnessing truth, courage, and solutions to lead humanity forward.
Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future (2021), Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbet (The Sixth Extinction, 2014) returns to humanity’s transformative impact on the environment, now asking: After doing so much damage, can we change nature, this time to save it?
The Uninhabitable Earth (2020), as The Washington Post stated, has the “potential to be this generation’s Silent Spring.” The book is both a travelogue of the near-future and a meditation on how that future will look to those living through it—the ways that global warming will transform global politics, the meaning of technology and nature in the modern world, the sustainability of capitalism and the trajectory of human progress.
TILclimate, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative
“Climate change is confusing. This award-winning MIT podcast breaks down the science, technologies, and policies behind climate change, how it’s impacting us, and what our society can do about it. Each quick episode gives you the what, why, and how on climate change — from real scientists — to help us all make informed decisions for our future.”
Emergence Magazine Podcast, Emergence Magazine
“The Emergence Magazine Podcast centers Indigenous perspectives. Episodes either feature an interview by editor-in-chief Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee or essays read by activists, authors, philosophers, and scientists. Recent essays include a piece on the forests that surround Mount Kenya, a meditation on the environmental wisdom of druidry, and a profoundly beautiful reflection on alternative economic models by the author and biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer.”
The Climate Question, BBC World Service
“Stories on why we find it so hard to save our own planet, and how we might change that.” The BBC brings journalistic might to a range of knotty questions, including: “How can we live with the SUV?” and “Will Africa really leapfrog to renewables?” Released semi-weekly, the podcast brings listeners into the heart of many of the issues animating policy rooms around the world.
How to Save a Planet, Gimlet Media
Hosted by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and journalist Alex Blumberg, How to Save a Planet is “consistently informative and engaging, covering foundational issues like energy efficiency and the scope of the climate crisis, along with more obscure topics like soil regeneration and kelp farming. Above all, the hosts try to foster a sense of hope in their listeners to push against prevailing narratives of ‘doom and gloom.’”
Emma Athena is an award-winning journalist and fresh-air lover. She writes about adventure and the environment, where humans and nature intersect at their most impactful moments. When she’s not glued to her keyboard or curled up with a book, she’s running in the mountains with her dog or camping with people she loves. To read more of her work and get in contact, visit emmaathena.com.
It is now easier than ever to sell your gear on Geartrade. With our new Consignment Selling option you can finally reclaim your gear closet. Send it in. We take care of the rest.