Beautiful Signs for a Better Planet

Sparking Climate Change Action: Inspiration from the USGBC’s 2019 Living Standard Report

Sparking Climate Change Action: Inspiration from the USGBC Living Standard Report


While 40% of Americans say the environment is one of their biggest concerns for the future, only 23% view the environment as one of their biggest concerns today.


Sea Turtle Eating a Plastic Bottle

This U.S. Public Opinion Research Report finding stood out during a 2019 talk by David Bluestone of ClearPath Strategies at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Midwest IMPACT Conference. His bleak statement, unfortunately, aligns with additional observations. The first report from the USGBC Living Standard Initiative dives into demographic and regional viewpoint differences and provides global warming perception gap insights. Americans by in large believe that the climate crisis is going to have a future impact everywhere but maintain hope that it will not impact their community. Because we do not feel personally responsible, we do not address the problem in our daily lives or the root causes of climate change.

In light of research survey findings, Bluestone proposed strategies to shift Americans’ attitudes towards sustainability and inspire stronger action. To combat the climate crisis, communities and individuals must focus on family connections and local context, begin where we are, and take small, gradual steps.


Polluting smoke stackFamily Connections & Local Context

Instead of avoiding the problem, make it personal and act now. Don’t view our climate crisis as something that happens to other people who live far away. Instead, notice changes occurring close by and envision how greater climate shifts will impact those we care about most. Consider how increased air pollution could impact a family member with an illness or destroy the diversity in butterflies that visit your garden.

Start at the Beginning

Start by making improvements you’re comfortable with. Don’t judge yourself for not installing solar panels on your house or commercial building. Instead, focus on an area of sustainability that suit your strengths. This could be as easy as separating and processing compost, paper, and other recyclables from waste via separate receptacles. Other beginner options are to turn down your air conditioning by a degree or carry a reusable water bottle.

Bike, alternative to fossil fuel transportation optionsGradualism

Although it would be best to stop climate change with a few large immediate steps, this dramatic effort is unlikely to occur. We all need to take small, regular steps over time that cumulatively will achieve objectives and have a positive impact. It is great to recycle, and eventually you’ll want to take the next step. More advanced approaches to making a lasting change could be picking up trash at your local park, biking to work instead of driving, or organizing a community climate awareness event at your place of work or school.

Action & Communications Toolkit

This summer, the Living Standard released a toolkit to address the question of “How do I take the findings from this research and use it in my day-to-day life?” It provides tips for taking action and communicating within our communities. In the coming weeks, I’ll dive into toolkit components in a separate post.

In the meantime, think about small, gradual steps you can take today to combat climate change!