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Eco-anxiety is a phrase that has been circulating in the news and social media a lot lately. This is something that really resonated with me as I often feel completely overwhelmed about the climate crisis we currently find ourselves in.
I’ve even gone through periods of depression over it. I started to doubt myself and think that I was overreacting but it turns out I’m not alone with these feelings.
“a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis”
Which Eco-Anxiety Category Are You?
I believe people fall into 3 categories when we’re talking about climate change…
The first category are the people that are still in denial about the whole thing.
The second category are the people that understand this is a huge problem and are actively making changes to their lives to help make a difference.
Then there’s everybody else…
The last category are people that are aware of climate change and do feel it’s a problem, however, they don’t really understand the science behind it all. They feel overwhelmed and powerless and don’t know where to start with making changes or what they can do as individuals to make a difference. So they do what must of us do when we’re feeling overwhelmed and ignore it.
A Norwegian psychologist and author of the book ‘*What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming‘ called Per Espen Stoknes believes that this denial is what’s stopping the progress of combating climate change from progressing… “denial keeps climate change off the radar of consciousness”
“It makes us feel a little bit like hypocrites because I know it’s important, I shouldn’t do this, but yet we do it and we do it all the time, every day: eat meat, drive a car, go by plane”
For a lot of people, this constant feeling of guilt and powerlessness makes them turn to denial. When we feel fear or guilt we withdraw from the issue and concentrate on something else because that makes us feel better, it’s human nature and we all do it at some point in our lives.
It’s not that people don’t care it’s just such a complicated problem.
If you find yourself in that last category then this is the post for you! There are lots of things that you as an individual, a family or community can do to help make a difference.
Do You Even Know What Impact You Are Having?
Before you begin making sustainable changes to your own life it’s important to know the impact that you are having. A great way to do this is to calculate your carbon footprint. It only takes a few minutes and can give you a great insight into what effect your daily life is having on the planet.
Sustainable Swaps In Your Home
The best place to start making changes is in your own home. Try to focus on one thing at a time, research some sustainable alternatives and start to implement them in your home.
It’s a great idea to do a waste audit for your home so you know exactly what it is that you are using and throwing away.
A lot of people are put off because they think living a more sustainable lifestyle is going to cost them more money but that’s not true. Yes, some things cost more but in the long run, you will be saving money because you’ll be using fewer things and reusing what you already have.
There are lots of changes that you can make in your home that will not only save you money but also help to reduce your impact.
You can insulate your home properly, seal up gaps in windows, switch to low energy light bulbs. Again, these are not things that you can do all at once but how about committing to one switch a month or even a year. Every little bit helps!
Change Your Diet
Changing your diet and your whole relationship with food can have a big impact on your carbon footprint. I’m not going to say we should all be vegans. I’m not a vegan myself, but I do feel our relationship with food has become very unhealthy.
In short, we consume far too much of it which not only has an effect on the planet but also on our wallets and health.
Could you reduce the amount of meat you eat in a week? A great way to start is to have one meat-free day a week. Why not give Meat-Free Monday ago for a few months an see how you get on?
Vote With Your Money
As consumers, we constantly underestimate the power we actually hold in our wallets. You’ve probably heard the expression ‘vote with your money’ well that’s exactly what we can do.
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want” Anna Lappe
There are quite a few ways to do this including switching to an ethical bank, switching to an energy company that uses 100% renewable energy and buying ethical products.
If we all start spending our money on the thing that really matter the companies will have no choice but to listen and make changes. You have the power to make change, use it.
If you’re interested is switching banks then check out this really handy guide by Ethical Consumer.
Get Involved in Your Local Community
One of the worst parts about trying to live more sustainable is feeling that you’re doing this on your own, which I can assure you-you’re not. There are thousands of people out there trying to make changes. Just look at the recent global climate strike in March organised by the Youth For Climate group started by Great Thunberg where over 100 countries took part.
How To Get Involved
- Join a local environment group of like-minded people. A quick look online should bring up local groups in your area.
- Take part in a community litter pick or if there isn’t one set one up!
- If you live near the sea take part in a beach cleanup.
Push for Change On A Larger Scale
If you want to have a larger impact then there here are some ideas for you…
There are hundreds of environmental petitions out there. They take seconds to sign and can have a big impact when lots of people get behind them. An excellent example of this is the Sunrise Movement in the US who have had great success with pushing for the proposal of a new green deal.
Write To Your Local MP
Let your voice be heard. Write to your local MP and tell them if you’re not happy with something. The more people that contact them about an issue the more they start to take notice.
Take To The Streets
One of the big things you can do is join an environmental movement like Youth for Climate or Extinction Rebellion who regularly hold strikes and protest about the lack of action on climate change.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
About Gina Caro
Gina is a content creator and award-winning blogger. Her aim is to help you live a more sustainable & simple life. Her blog covers zero waste, minimalism, wellbeing & thrift. She currently lives in Cornwall with her partner, two kids and Charles the dog.