Harm reduction is a fancy sounding label. It means: practical ways to reduce the negative outcomes associated with high risk behavior.
People use ‘harm reduction’ to talk about addiction [ ie: injecting drugs is high risk and using drugs less frequently, in small doses, with a friend, or smoking instead of injection can be safer ]
But we use harm reduction all the time: cars can crash so people wear seat belts, the sun can burn us so we wear sunscreen, obesity can cause heart disease so people eat well and exercise. Apply that to how we treat the environment.
Our lifestyles, for the most part, rely on us continuing to behave in ways that have high risks associated with them. But these high risk behaviors could be replaced with lower risk alternatives.
With a harm reduction approach, we look for more sustainable food choice like local foods, free range meats, vegetarian meals;
Transportation methods that pollute less like bicycling, busing, carpooling or walking it;
at home we can use renewable energy like solar or wind, turn lights off, turn the heat down, plant a garden, hang a clothes line, the options are endless.
The point of harm reduction isn’t about denying yourself comfort and happiness. It’s about achieving comfort and happiness in a responsible way and exploring alternatives that you are comfortable with to get there – carefully weighing the risks and rewards with an open mind.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already engaged in a harm reduction response to your previous lifestyle, or you are thinking about it: what changes have you made? What changes are you curious about but afraid to plunge into? We are all addicted, and some changes are tough to make. You might miss your old habits. You might slip back once in a while. I would love to hear from you about how it’s going.