I’ve been a little quiet on here over the past few months. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I launched this website with the intention of expanding my writing career and it worked! Since I re-designed and relaunched the site, I’ve written for The Guardian, Grazia, Stylist, Refinery29 and all sorts of other publications which is undoubtedly a positive reason for neglecting my duties here just a little. I can’t complain about that and I won’t, but that’s really a minor reason. The second and most significant reason is that I’ve had a serious case of eco-anxiety coupled with a major bout of eco-anger.
I know that the phrase eco-anxiety is thrown around to make millennials seem like pathetic ‘snowflakes’ who cry at the sight of a plastic straw but I promise you it’s a real thing. Although awareness of climate breakdown is higher than ever, there’s so much government, corporate and even individual kickback that I’m desperately worried for our future. I worry what the world’s going to look like when I’m 50. I worry that hedge funds are already buying up water in anticipation of devastating global shortages and that we’re already witnessing the effects of a shifting climate. I worry that there may be no fish in the ocean by 2048 and that children are already dying because of air pollution.
And it’s not some abstract thing I’m anxious about. It’s a real threat. The things we’ve all been warned about will happen if action isn’t taken. It’s that simple. So my eco-anxiety is, sadly, valid. Alongside the constant worry has been anger. Anger at so many things: people idling on my street, poor cycling infrastructure, irresponsible industrial water usage, expensive and unreliable public transport making cars the cheapest and easiest option, governments with the budget and means to make change refusing to do so, pissing about with Brexit when the world is crumbling, climate deniers in positions of power, and so much more.
I’ve also found myself angry at the response and how we’re getting it so wrong. There are waitresses who feel they have the moral high ground to refuse a plastic straw to someone who needs it (and who shouldn’t have to explain why they fucking well need it in the first place). Rich white influencers have decided that buying expensive clothes is the answer to the ethical fashion problem without a second thought for people in different financial positions. The Tories made a show of rocking up to parliament with reusable coffee cups when they should be targeting the biggest corporate and industrial offenders. Fashion magazines, newspapers and media outlets are telling us to go forth and buy organic cotton dresses, sandals made from recycled tyres, bamboo lunch boxes and recycled plastic cutlery sets when really we need to be consuming less not more.
I’m angry, I’m anxious. I’m worried I’ve got it wrong in the past and that I’ve overlooked people or oversimplified things. I second guess everything I say or suggest and I’ve started to worry that posting on Instagram about something so serious is just trivialising it. I’ve found myself looking back at old posts and wondering whether I’m part of the problem, whether in the beginning I focused too much on buying from sustainable labels instead of pushing for legislative change, whether I was inconsiderate of the restrictions that other people face. I worry that I accepted a gifted item last October and that it was the wrong thing to do. I worry, worry, worry.
I have so much to say but I often feel too weighed down to say it. I wonder what the point is. I wonder if I’m changing anything at all and I berate myself for not doing more. Reading this back, I realise how I’m feeling is very much symptomatic of the myopic, individual-first solution we’ve been sold. I feel guilty that I’m not doing enough and that’s absolutely fucking great for, say, the oil industry because for as long as I’m worrying about where I fall short, I’m not taking them to task. If I’m in a shame spiral about buying cucumber wrapped in plastic then I’m not going to have the energy to write to my MP or go to a protest.
I feel, I imagine, exactly as big industry and government wants me to. But I’m trying not to because, honestly, I’m sad and exhausted. There is only so much we can do before it goes way above our heads. I’m trying. You’re trying. But we can’t get everything right all the time.
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