Fed up with feeling helpless in the face of depressing climate news, three co-founders created a platform to inspire change.
Calming Climate Anxiety with a Chrome Extension
DENVER — Eight years ago, Jessica Lybeck, a budding environmentalist and entrepreneur, talked to her therapist for the first time about her climate anxiety. She was told that taking action on the environmental crisis would help calm her nerves.
Ms. Lybeck spent the next six years shifting her career to work in sustainability and doing as much as she could to reduce her carbon footprint and waste at home. Despite her best efforts, the anxiety didn’t go away. In some ways, it got worse.
As she spoke with friends, family, and colleagues, she realized she was part of a growing cohort of people whose daily lives are plagued with anxiety about the environment that just won’t subside. According to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association, “the percentage of Americans who agree climate change is probably or definitely affecting their mental health increased from 47% in 2019 to 68% in 2020”.
Determined to change that, Ms. Lybeck and her two co-founders decided to expand their startup, Remark, to build an app with an unprintable name: UnF*** The Future (UFTF). The chrome extension functions as an antidote to the doom and gloom of climate news, where readers are given snarky one-minute climate actions when they are reading news articles with keywords such as “unprecedented drought” or “habitat devastation”.
The tool includes suggestions for more than 150 actions, ranging from contacting President Joe Biden to finding a more climate-friendly bank. Each suggestion comes with a link to a simple step that someone can take to immediately make an impact. The aim: to empower individuals to take systemic action, providing an antidote to climate anxiety.
Ms. Lybeck notes that the use of profanity was deliberate. “The earth’s on fire, oceans are rising, and 1% of the people on the planet are largely responsible for a looming human extinction,” she said. “We’re pissed off and you should be too.” The profanity also serves a practical purpose. Studies have shown that swearing can help lessen the pain and help individuals achieve more.
UFTF is one of several companies now aiming to help individuals take systemic action on climate change. Its mission is part of a larger shift where individuals are working towards holding both politicians and business leaders accountable for their part in the climate crisis. “Don’t forget that the individual carbon footprint was created by the oil and gas industry to pass responsibility to the consumers, and we’re here to shift responsibility back on those really responsible.” says UFTF co-founder, Beth Birchfield.
UFTF builds on Remark’s first app that helps individuals send sustainability feedback to CEOs. Social media platforms like GoodEmpire, We Don’t Have Time and Buycott call attention to actions individuals can take to collectively address climate and social issues.
“The biggest fallacy is that individuals don’t have the power to change the system, when in fact, we have the power to change everything.” says Ms. Birchfield. “We just need tools to get past the overwhelm of climate anxiety to direct our limited time and energy to the actions that matter.”
Ms. Lybeck said she ultimately hopes UFTF will help others who feel helpless when reading climate headlines feel better by taking action, while collectively moving the needle towards actual change.
This “is about fixing the future of our planet,” she said.
UFTF is a project launched by Remark, a Public Benefit Corporation based in Denver on a mission to turn climate angst into action. After feeling anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness in the face of the environmental crisis, Remark co-founders Jessica Lybeck, Don MacKinnon, and Beth Birchfield founded Remark to allow individuals to collectively encourage sustainable action and fix a broken system. UFTF’s chrome extension is available for download now. To learn more, visit www.remark.eco/UFTF, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.