Eco-Anxiety: What can we do about a changing climate?

in Climate Change - 6 min read

Late one afternoon I was all eyes and ears, watching the second episode of Our Planet – Frozen Worlds. Tears started welling up in my eyes as the walruses were roughly climbing the cliffs in search of a place to rest their spacious bodies. After laying for a short amount of time, they become restless and agitated by the closeness of each other and lack of space. The ones who have climbed the highest, to get further away from the chaos, start to get hungry and must return back to the water…

Hearing the sea (the source of their food) and the others making a ruckus down below, they start to descend at an alarming rate, clumsily falling off the cliff and tumbling to their ultimate demise. Several problems arise at once – they cannot see very far outside of water and neither are they proficient at rock-climbing, up or down, with their flippers. In my world, tears are falling/streaming at the sight of hundreds of bodies piled on top of one another. A waste sight of climate change induced extinction.

It wasn’t meant to be this way, walruses are supposed to rest on ice, not on land, and never venturing too far or high from the water’s edge. Yet their habitat is changing, there is no more ice, it has melted as water temperatures rise and they must adapt – at a deathly cost.

What can we do about a changing climate?

I look outside the window and all is green. The cherries are flowering, though it hasn’t rained for three weeks, despite repeated forecasts from the untrustworthy weather station. We can see the rain pass over us, all around us, it would be so nice to water our garden too… And then it happens, three weeks of almost non-stop rain, causing flooding and cold temperatures to reign. Not so good for the garden, after all.

Back to Our Planet, in the course of an hour my emotions are running in all directions and I cannot help but think “how do we get out of this mess?!” How do we stop the destruction, or at least slow it down to a manageable level? What kind of future are we facing, what legacy are we leaving for our children and next generations?

Sir David Attenborough believes there is still hope to save the Earth from this great catastrophe of global warming, yet he states: “if dramatic action to limit the effects is taken over the next decade.”

We have one decade to set things straight.

That’s just 10 years to clean up the unwanted clutter collected over many decades. This is cause for eco-anxiety and deep wonder what to do about a changing climate.

My mind clings to the fact that there is still hope. Hope. That’s exactly what we need right now, but we all know from past experiences that hoping is not enough. We must take action and we must take it now!

We must take eco-responsible actions every single day if we want to see a positive change. Sitting behind a screen, sipping a coffee or an alcoholic drink while binge-watching Netflix might temporarily numb the pain, though it won’t make much of an impact in the grand scheme of things – even if you are using a ceramic cup for your loose leaf tea (avoiding plastic tea bags) or drinking organic wine from a glass.

The spring air is alive with pollen and as the sun shines, bees and flies are entering through our open front door. Some find their way out on their own via an open window, others need a little encouragement. Rather than stomping or indiscriminately smashing a treasured “bug”, they are all gently removed and ushered back outside, happy to be on their pollen-hunting way. We practice hopefulness by letting all creatures and insects live (40% of all insect species are in decline). This includes mosquitoes, spiders, flies of all kinds, beetles, caterpillars, slow worms – anything that moves. As I release them back to the wild, my mind wanders to what more can be done as we face a radically changing climate.

5 empowering ways to deal with eco-anxiety

Stop flying.

Plain and simple, just stop flying. This one little act of resistance counts for a lot of saved carbon emissions with the added benefit of vacationing closer to home. The statistics relating carbon emissions to air travel are staggering and climbing higher every year. This has to stop! Fly if you must, but make sure to calculate the carbon emissions associated with your flight, then invest in a reforestation plan to sequester that carbon.

Young trees absorb carbon at a rate of 13 pounds per year, per tree. At 10 years when they reach their carbon storage peak, they will absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year.

There are reforestation schemes all around the world, why not invest in the temperate zone, for native trees are needed there too, to foster biodiversity of insects and animals. If you already have the no-flying thing down, how about giving up your car next? Or walk as often as you can. It is great exercise, and will boost your energy and immune system too.

Go plastic-free.

Single-use plastic is polluting our Earth far and wide. The more we produce and buy products wrapped in it, the farther it spreads. In order to stop the flow, we need to reduce the amount we consume as we find suitable alternatives, then stop buying it altogether. Sounds hard? Not so. Here are 100 thoughts for beginners to get you started on your plastic-free journey.

Wear sustainable fibers.

While you are eliminating plastic around your house, don’t forget to look in the bedroom too. Hidden in your closet, in plain sight, are loads of fabrics that don’t fit the sustainable bill. These include acrylic, polyester, spandex, nylon and polar fleece, just to name a few. Search for organic clothes, made from organic fibers instead – hemp, linen and cotton top the list. Animal fibers and leather are included here too, as they are renewable and long-lasting. If you can’t find your style at the mall, go ahead and grab the skills to make your own wardrobe – perhaps even your own earthing shoes!

Declutter – and keep it that way!

When the state of the world has you down, don’t go shopping to lift yourself up – that only pulls the environment down. Instead, get rid of something you no longer use, that someone else may need, for money or for free. The problem with overproduction is the amount of waste, and no industry does it better than fast-fashion. Items “out of season” are not saved for the next season, they are binned or sent thousands of miles away, neither of those making for a great solution. Share your excess belongings with others as you make your way to mindful minimalist status, then find ways to prevent clutter from coming in by saying “No!” to freebies and unwanted items.

Get involved in nature.

In order to love nature, we must get involved in (re)earthing ourselves. Go outside barefoot for hours on end, take a shower in the rain, be thrilled by the wind and embrace the humbling fact that we are nothing without nature – we could neither eat, nor breathe without her help. This may in fact take putting a limit on your technology consumption, by means of a digital detox day, or by participating in life as you eliminate social media for a length of time. You may also choose to clean up garbage in your neighborhood, or your favorite outdoor spot.

Keep busy with activities that are beneficial for the Earth, and forget about your eco-anxiety in the meantime; hope and inspired action are incredible motivators. Make sure to create sustainable, repeatable actions every day and be the #sustainablechange you wish to see in the world.

Imagine a sustainable future, and put your bare foot forward!

As sustainable life designers we know that taking eco-actions every day, isn’t always easy. We are here as sustainability coaches to help you make wise, ecologically sound choices along the way. Whether you are just starting your path to sustainability, or are well on your way, we are beacons to guide introverts, businesses and families as you discover how to live and work simply on Earth.

Cheryl Magyar

Cheryl is a freelance writer and content creator on all things related to simple living, ecological minimalism, organic gardening and foraging. She is the co-creator of the Earth Gratitude Journal, a monthly downloadable journal that focuses on having greater appreciation for living on this incredible planet.

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