behaviour change

Managing Toxic Thoughts

Speaker: Vincent Schutt from Environmentum (A Project of Tides Canada)Written by: Sheena Jain & Esha Jain            

Using the acronym F.E.A.R, Vincent Schutt has created a strategic method on how to approach and manage “toxic thoughts.” He suggests that first, we as individuals need to locate the source behind the toxic thought, in order to eventually resolve or reconcile with that initial thought.  The following depicts the necessary steps required to adequately manage toxic thoughts.

1)  Frame:  Locate your toxic thought

    → This can be done by classifying the source of the thought as:

  • The individual themselves
  • Their Family
  • Their Community
  • Their City
  • Their Province
  • Their Country
  • Their Global Society

2)  Evaluate the thought: Narrow in on the type of problem, in order to gain perspective on what steps

   can be taken to improve the “toxic thought”. This will prevent the “toxic thought” from, weighing the

   individual down.

    → Create a spectrum that increases progressively from least to most beneficial ways to   

          improve the toxic thought.     

3)      Assess/Appreciate: Locate where you are on the spectrum

4)      Reconcile: Determine whether you have the capacity in your life to do something about the toxic


  • Maybe you will realize that you cannot actually move forward with resolving this toxic thought
  • Maybe you will not be able to approach this problem right away because you have spectrums in other areas that need to be addressed first
  • Managing your toxic thoughts using these steps can give you a better perspective on where you are in terms of managing the problem, what future steps you can take, and what limitations you may have. Thus allowing you to put the thought to rest once and for all.     

Using the above steps, Mr. Schutt demonstrated how you can manage toxic thoughts regarding the elimination of waste products for example.


1)      Frame: Waste management is a problem located in the city in which you live

Global Society
City 0-High consumption

1- Not Separating waste products at all

2- Make some mistakes sorting waste products

3- Compost & Recycle

4- Reuse

5 - Reduce


2)      Evaluate: See spectrum above

3)      Assess/Appreciate: Using his example, Mr. Schutt classified himself as being between

      Steps 3 & 4, in terms of how he handles waste in his everyday life.

4)      Reconcile: This activity puts into perspective: where the problem lies, a spectrum of how people may

      handle this problem, where you classify yourself in terms of improving this problem, what further

      actions you can take and what limitations you may have when it comes to this problem. This will

      essentially allow you to come to terms with the “toxic thought: so that it does not weigh you down.



Climate Conversations – Individual Action to Impact Climate Change

Speaker: Vincent Schutt of EnvironmentumWritten by: Esha & Sheena Jain


Vincent Schutt, the director and co-founder of Enviromentum took a remarkably appealing approach when discussing the impact of individual action to climate change. He focused on 3 main principles, which included: what best represents your values in life; what effects of climate change concerns you and finally what steps do you currently take to aid in mitigating climate change. The intention of the exercise was to illustrate there is no need to worry about the logistics regarding environmental concerns; as it only brings upon a sense of impending doom and uncontrollable fear for what the future holds. He suggested that rather the emphasis be placed on your values so that one can take more actions based on these values. This method prevents one from enforcing their views upon others. Instead, it assists individuals in discovering what is important to them, which allows them to connect their behaviors to their values. This strategy permits individuals to discover their own motivation to make a change.  

Discussion Questions:

  1.  How can communicating the importance of climate change be more effective, such that individuals will want to take action? (Where do the discrepancies lie? – what can be done to change this?)

Sander van der Linden, et al, reviewed psychological research regarding climate change communication. 5 discoveries were made:

  1.       People are more likely to respond to personal experience than to abstract analysis. This is problematic as climate change is described in statistically abstract terminology. Perhaps if the information was translated into relatable personal experiences, people may have a better understanding.
  2.       Motivating individuals to take action is difficult. Therefore rewarding the community norms can encourage pro-environmental behavior.
  3.       Climate change can seem like an issue that is distant in time and space, thus easier to ignore. Therefore if it was communicating in a way that may focus on regional changes that are close in time and space –as individuals can see and relate it to their own communities.
  4.       The research shows that people’s attitudes regarding risk depends on losses and gains. Such that people are willing to tolerate the risk of dealing with losses. Perhaps switching the policy conversation that focuses on positive benefits and gains of immediate action may cause an increase in public support.
  5.       Research found that motivating behavior with extrinsic financial incentives for conserving energy may be more effective when combined with the appeals of people’s intrinsic motivation to improve the wellbeing of others and care for the environment. Thus requiring external incentives to motivate individual action.


Overall it has been found that a method in which mitigating climate change effectively involves the insight from social scientists and psychologists. As they can assist in changing individual attitudes and behaviors, by providing a different approach and motivation for individuals to begin to indeed take action, but that too on their own terms.


  1.       What are some examples of things I can do to mitigate climate change?
Transportation Reduce/Reuse/Recycle Advocacy Consumption Habits Conservation



-Go train

-car pool

-eat less meat

-compost & recycle

-recycle electronics

-use reusable bottle

-repurpose waste

-talk with




-buy organic

-buy local

-buy 2nd  hand

-host garage sale

-repair before replace

-save H20

(showering, shaving, brushing teeth)

-save energy

(lights, power strips, appliances)

-insulate home

  1.       How do I start reducing and reusing items?
  2.         Start by looking for products with less packaging. When manufacturers use less packaging, they use less raw

materials. This aids in reducing waste and costs.

  1.   Purchase items in bulk, which can also save money and reduce packaging waste.

iii.  Purchase reusable items vs disposable ones.

  1.  Try to maintain and repair products (i.e. clothing, appliance etc.)
  2.   To create less waste, try reusing old party decorations or borrowing them from a friend.
  3.       What are the benefits of reducing waste and reusing items?
  4.      Reusing items prevents pollution from being caused because it reduces the need to collect new raw materials,

       thus saving energy and money

  1.    By recycling items, you help in reducing greenhouse gas emission

iii.   By making an effort in reducing waste and reusing items, you assist in sustaining the environment for future


  1.   By decreasing the amount of waste, you reduce what needs to be recycled or sent to landfills or incinerators



COMMENTARY ON SCIENCE AND SOCIETY. "How Psychology Can Save The World From Climate Change." NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 24 June 2016. (

US Environmental Protection Agency. "Reducing and Reusing Basics." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 24 June 2016. (