Are you suffering from climate anxiety?
Sustainability anxiety or “eco anxiety”, described by Psychology Today is a psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis. While it is not an official health concern it is a typical reaction to the growing awareness around our planet’s ecological future.
Scientists and conservationists have been discussing climate change for over 30 years and due to growing awareness and activism, a large portion of the population now agree that we are in the grip of a climate crisis. Teamed with the overwhelming speed at which the ice-caps are melting and the lack of action from world leaders, it’s really no wonder people are feeling concern and angst.
Let’s break it down.
Sustainability: the ability to exist constantly.
Eco: Ecological, the relation of living organisms to one another and their physical surroundings.
Anxiety: Intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. So essentially, a majority of young people are struggling with the intense worry that all living things will cease to exist if we as a population don’t do something very drastic, very soon.
Sustainability anxiety, not unlike regular anxiety, varies from person to person. For example, if I forget my keep cup I have an internal battle with myself about getting a takeaway coffee because the single use cup is headed straight for landfill. If I buy a new outfit I need to research where each component of that outfit is coming from and how it is being made. Others have sworn off having children for fear that the planet won’t be suitable to bring them up on. Some have given up driving cars, flying and eating meat. There are people living completely off the grid and only using renewable energy and eating food that have grown themselves. The list goes on. But rather than look at each of these choices as negative ones, we can see them as hope for the future and inspiration to change and take positive actions. The more changes we make now means that maybe those of us who have sworn off baby-making will change their minds in 10 years.
We can reverse the climate crisis by taking action within our own lives to make a difference. Taking small steps will also help to relieve anxiety within your own life, because let’s face it, not everyone can live off the grid.
You don’t have to feel paralysed by this anxiety. Here are a few helpful hints on how to reduce your footprint and lower your climate anxiety:
Learn how to recycle effectively. We all know; red bin for rubbish and yellow for recycling, but are you really separating your house-hold waste responsibly? Materials that can be recycled in the weekly rubbish collection include: All plastic bottles and containers, aluminium and steel cans, including empty aerosol cans, bottles and jars made only of glass and clean cardboard, newspaper, loose paper, junk mail, magazines and cartons. You can also take all soft or ‘scrunchable’ plastics to most Woolworths stores to be recycled. Across most cities there are alaos e-Waste facilities for safe disposal of your electronic goods. This includes desktop and laptop computers, monitors, hard drives, keyboards and mice, power supplies, disk drives, printers, scanners, and all types of televisions. For more information on what you can recycle, visit your local city council website.
Stop buying fast fashion. There is no shame in outfit repeating but if you really want to wear something new, try borrowing. We all have that one friend with an amazing wardrobe, shop in there! If you really do want a new piece of clothing, buy second hand. Op-shops are a gold mine and extremely cost effective. Not to mention, it’s fun. Check out our last blog for more ideas on how to dress sustainably.
Ban single-use items from your life. Switch to reusable coffee cups, water bottles, metal straws, bringing a cutlery set from home, beeswax wraps, fabric wash cloths and re-usable plastic containers for takeaway, are all very simple ways to cut down on waste and reduce your footprint. Hygiene products that are available to reduce plastic waste include; razors, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, moon cups, reusable pads and breast pads. If you are looking for a website that covers all of this check out biome.com.
Be more eco-friendly at home. Turn off appliances at the power point when you’re not using them, and always turn off unused points. Turn off lights when you leave the room and of course, turn off the water when you don’t need it turned on. Don’t rinse dishes before washing them. Don’t use sprinklers in the day. Use cold water in your washing machine and set the water level yourself. Compost food scraps in your garden or boil them up and make a stock. Use loose leaf tea instead of tea-bags and buy jars of coffee instead of sachets. If you own your own home, invest in solar panels and a water tank. While they can be costly to set up, they’ll prove a saving for both your wallet and the planet in the not-so-distant future.
If you are planning on having babies, consider using cloth nappies and wipes. Buy second-hand clothes or ask your friends for hand-me-downs. Buy wooden toys and furniture. Parenting is hard though, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Most importantly, repair, reuse and buy responsibly. Research ecological options before making a purchase and ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Vote with your dollar and think about the life-span and life cycle of the things you buy. How long will you have it and what will happen to it when you’re finished with it? These are just a few ways that each of us can reduce our footprint and in turn, reduce our eco-anxiety.
Just remember, you can only do you. Don’t let other people’s ignorance around the climate issue cause you anxiety because you can’t control everyone. Remember; we don’t need 100 people doing sustainability perfectly, we need 1 billion people doing their best.