Going Green Actually Makes Us Happier

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There are all kinds of ways to do activism these days, from behind your keyboard to marching in the streets. Most of it, you'd imagine, stems from being good and mad about something. One kind of activism, however, can actually make you happier — and in some ways, it's the scariest one.

Climate change is already roughing up communities, work routines, and the stock market. But even though we've got about a decade to turn things around, it's not too late to mitigate its worst effects. That's where a new Norwegian study comes in. If you're skeptical that individual action can really make all that much of a difference, get ready for a pleasant surprise. Consumers who stay committed to climate initiatives — going green, shopping local, that sort of thing — tend to consume less, and they're pretty happy about it.

In fact, individuals who did things like buy secondhand clothing, buy local produce, and work toward sustainable initiatives "were 11 to 13 percent more likely to think positively about their own life," in addition to cutting their own carbon footprints by an average of 16 percent. It's not just that hugging a tree will make your life better; things like going green at work is an unsexy but cost-neutral way of contributing to positive change.

That's a great start, but it's important not to stop there. We can't buy our way out of materialism, but we can apply money in an ethical way that solves problems. If the Norwegians are on the right track, it could keep us all a lot happier than we'd expect