Mindful Climate Action: Health and Environmental Co-Benefits from Mindfulness-Based Behavioral Training

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Media Type: Article - Foundational

Date of Publication: December 2016

Year of Publication: 2016

Publication City: Basel, Switzerland

Publisher: MDPI AG

Author(s): Bruce Barrett, Maggie Grabow, Cathy Middlecamp, Margaret Mooney, Mary M. Checovich, Alexander K. Converse, Bob Gilespie, Julia Yates

Journal: Sustainability

Volume: 8:10

Pages: 1040

Categories: ,

Discussion of potential co-benefits are common when attention turns to the relationship between public health and climate change. In this paper, the authors broaden this discussion by proposing another set of co-benefits arising from applying mindfulness-based practices to reduce individuals’ carbon footprints. The authors combine mindfulness-based practices with the Stages of Change theory in their Mindful Climate Action curriculum.

ABSTRACT: Greenhouse gases from human activities are causing climate change, creating risks for people around the globe. Behaviors involving transportation, diet, energy use, and purchasing drive greenhouse gas emissions, but are also related to health and well-being, providing opportunity for co-benefits. Replacing shorter automobile trips with walking or cycling, or eating plants rather than animals, for example, may increase personal health, while also reducing environmental impact. Mindfulness-based practices have been shown to enhance a variety of health outcomes, but have not been adapted towards environmental purposes. We designed the Mindful Climate Action (MCA) curriculum to help people improve their health while simultaneously lowering their carbon footprints. Combining mindfulness-based practices with the Stages of Change theory, the MCA program aims to: (1) improve personal health and well-being; (2) decrease energy use; (3) reduce automobile use; (4) increase active transport; (5) shift diet towards plant-based foods; and (6) reduce unnecessary purchasing. Mindfulness practices will foster attentional awareness, openness, and response flexibility, supporting positive behavior change. We plan to test MCA in a randomized controlled trial, with rigorous assessment of targeted outcomes. Our long-term goal is to refine and adapt the MCA program to a variety of audiences, in order to enhance public health and environmental sustainability.

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