Why Earth Month Is a Great Excuse to Try Eco-Hypnotherapy and Other Ideas Outside the Nonrecyclable Box

It’s also a great time to reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle almost anything

By Jessian Choy

April 4, 2023

Earth Day

Photo by Nastco/iStock

It’s Earth Month again—when you can have fun becoming even greener than you already are. Maybe you can think outside the nonrecyclable box. It’s time to be more hopeful, to give eco-hypnotherapy for eco-anxiety a try, and to help neighbors reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle almost everything.


Give yourself and other people a hope trip instead of a guilt trip

According to recent studies, hopeful messages motivate people to be green. Hope is also one of the top three strengths for better emotional and physical health and life purpose. Another study found that when 25 percent or more people in a group tried something new, everyone else in the group did too. The main reason people try something new is they see people around them doing it. So every time you do something little that gives hope for you and the rest of our planet, you might be making a bigger difference than you see. If we all did a little, we could all benefit a lot. 


Eco-hypnotherapy for eco-anxiety

If you have felt hopeless about climate change and the health of our planet, that kind of eco-anxiety could use some therapy—or how about eco-hypnotherapy? I took hypnotherapy classes from different schools and finally landed at the most science-based hypnotherapy school I found. It helped me find more ways to bring humor and play into my work. If that sounds too off-the-wall for you, then just keep it simple and take it outside—studies continue to show that getting out into nature is one of the best ways you can reduce the stress and anxiety in your life. You might even carry a small tote with you in case you come across litter that needs to be cleaned up and packed out.


Help neighbors reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle seriously anything

Make new friends with neighbors by helping them find where to repair, donate, recycle, or downcycle things. I feel hopeful seeing neighbors get excited to rehome their things in Buy Nothing Facebook and Being Neighborly and other groups, even gently used silicone breasts for transgender people. When my neighbors can’t find homes for unwanted things, I invite them to ask businesses to avoid giving unnecessary things in the first place, such as single-use plastic. And I invite my neighbors to repair things through Rethink Repair or recycle at Earth911 and Recyclist. When I can’t find repairers or recyclers there, I give them my list of organizations that will repair, reuse, recycle, or downcycle almost everything

I find that my neighbors appreciate super-friendly reminders to add a note for all food and mail-order deliveries to leave out single-use items. And if they end up with usable but unwanted things, I invite them to join me in returning all kinds of odds and ends back to businesses. Sometimes neighbors tell me that restaurants appreciated it when they returned condiment packets and utensils. For mail-order packaging like pesky plastic peanuts, I point neighbors to post office box shipping stores, most of which accept donations. And if they can’t take them, I offer to do it for them. 

For electronics and clothes, Goodwill thrift stores can often pick up and then repair and resell them. For nonrepairable electronics and even VHS tapes, E-Stewards certified recyclers can ensure they get recycled responsibly.

Ridwell offers free pickup of things that often can’t go in your city’s recycling bins. Or if you have $14-$18 to spare a month, Ridwell will regularly pick up and recycle your neighborhood’s styrofoam, fabric, plastic film, batteries, and a monthly, featured category. Unlike some recyclers, Ridwell lists where your recyclables will go and what they’ll be recycled into. And they give cloth collection bags instead of plastic ones. You can get even friendlier with neighbors by offering to be a Ridwell drop-off location.

You can even recycle your own hair! Post in your neighborhood group where you can donate hair that isn’t long enough to be turned into wigs for cancer patients. That hair, fur, or feathers can be made into oil spill cleanup mats. Ask your hair salon to donate too. You can also make your own oil spill mats to give to cleanups. Do it all through the nonprofit Matter of Trust


Don’t be a wishcycler

There are lots of ways to not be a wishcycler, which is wishfully thinking things you recycle will be recycled. City trucks may pick up your recyclables, but that doesn’t mean all those items actually get recycled. Or do they? When your city's truck picks up recyclables, some have a switch that drivers use to send recyclables down a different chute that you can’t see. That separates them from things they send to the landfill. These “optical illusion” trucks are called hidden dual-compartment trucks. Ask your waste hauler if they are properly sorting landfill waste from recycling waste to make sure it doesn’t all end up in a landfill. In my dream world, these trucks would have big signs that make clear that they actually do this. In lieu of that, be the change you want and ask the drivers and your city to verify it.


Avoid drinking trillions of nanoplastics from a paper cup

A top way to not be a wishcycler is to bring reusable foodware with you. For example, using a reusable cup can help you avoid drinking trillions of nanoplastics that can release from a paper cup. Microplastics are now in our air, drinking water, blood, and lungs. If you ingest them, they may cause asthma-like symptoms or severe inflammatory bowel disease. And six studies showed that eating microplastics decreased testosterone in mammals, regardless of type of plastic


Be kind to help create a kinder, and greener, world

Studies show that people are happier if they have more time instead of things, give more than get, appreciate what they have instead of trying to get what they don’t have, and create strong relationships and a life purpose. Experiments show that happier people take more action. Those happier people promote environmental issues, fight corruption, and attend rallies.

If you want treehuggers to keep protecting your health and our planet, be kinder to them. Increasingly, those treehuggers, and many others, have been traumatized by climate disaster. Research has shown that people who experience natural disasters as children are more likely to get involved in environmental causes. A 2023 study showed that childhood trauma (like poverty or lack of a safe, healthy or stable environment) is associated with increased interest in both private and public environmental actions as an adult


Please support plastic-free policies and products

One way you can help yourself, our planet, and treehuggers is to sign petitions to get governments to reduce toxic microplastics, such as Plastic Pollution Coalition’s petitions for plastic pollution prevention policies.

Ask me about plastic-free products like vegan paper and other greener school supplies, or water filters!