My eco anxiety
My Eco Anxiety, and our children's future
Eco Anxiety, is it really a thing?
So I was scrolling social media one evening as you do, and I came across a post from a mum who was expressing the anxiety she suffers regarding her own and her family's environmental impact. She basically outlined the fact that whenever she thought about it she experienced shortage of breath, palpitations, sweating and a feeling of overwhelm; an anxiety attack. So this lady is having panic attacks around the thought that she might not be doing enough; enough for the planet, recycling, buying ethically, waste management etc etc.
My initial response was, "Really? Eco anxiety? As if Mum's don't have enough on their plate already without having the added burden of the planet to worry about. We all have to dig in, do what we can and try not to overthink things too much."
Recently, a good friend of mine who has a very wonderful, sensitive little girl, mentioned that her daughter has trouble sleeping. I say having trouble, what I really mean is that she doesn't sleep. At all. She is anxious and worrying constantly and is literally terrified that the world is going to end tomorrow.
She thinks that when she wakes up there won't be a world to wake up to.
She's also having some pretty dark nightmares. I guess she's not old enough to quite understand that the climate change issues are a gradual thing and that we won't wake up in the morning to devastation a la The Day After Tomorrow. Well, we hope that we won't all be stuck in a library burning books to keep warm while we are plunged onto a a new ice age, even if this weird weather may suggest otherwise. I'm actually sat in the cabin as I write this, in fear of my life as apparently we've been struck by a tornado here in Nottingham. Hopefully I wont be swept away Dorothy style and I get to actually publish this post. I digress, but obviously, the media and the movements of activists have affected her. Deeply.
This cannot be underestimated. Mental health is a problem for this country already, and now we are setting our children up to feel this way? This guilt, that somehow THEY, those little souls are responsible for this impending doom. That they are carrying the burden of our systematic abolition of this planet.
On one level we need to acknowledge the fact that we have caused this gentle little soul to accept responsibility for this, for our mistakes. This can be a good thing, as this generation will act where we have failed. But to this extent? To the extent where she can't function in her daily life because she's so terrified for her little brother's future? What have we done?
This, is eco anxiety
Upon a simple google of "Eco Anxiety" I came across the following citation from Wikipedia
"Eco anxiety is anxiety about ecological disasters and threats to the natural environment such as pollution and climate change. Variations to the definition exist such as the broader description explaining it as the "worry or agitation caused by concerns about the present and future state of the environment."".
So it seems, it is a real thing and is beginning to be acknowledged, according to Wiki. It's literally like a vicious circle. Destroy the Earth, feel guilty for not doing enough, drain more resources from the Earth in order to fix your guilt to make you feel better, feel guilty again for this.. I can totally see why people feel this way.
It's not easy.
Literally everywhere you turn these days there's a new article stating you should stop eating this or stop doing that, or there's no point doing this because of such and such. It really is difficult to navigate your way around the ins and the outs of climate change and what is essentially best for the planet as a whole.
There are some things however, I do know, and they are this.
I do know that 'Fast Fashion' is one of the biggest drains on the planet.
I do know that your cheap T-shirt and one pair of jeans took (on average) 20,000 litres of water to make. WWF
I do know that almost 70 million barrels of oil are used PER YEAR to manufacture polyester fibre for the world. Polyester is the most commonly used material in our clothing and it takes around 200 years to decompose. - Forbes
I do know that some fast fashion companies also purposefully design clothes that do not last and fall apart quickly. ‘Planned obsolescence’ - Google it, you will be shocked. Be Global Fashion Network
I do know that plastic clothes release microfibres every time we wash them. If we carry on like this the number of these plastic microfibres entering the ocean 2015-2050 could be in excess of 22 million tonnes. Ellen MacAurthur Foundation
I do know that people have reportedly suffered chemical burns from clothes treated by chemicals. The Guardian
And apparently, or so I have read, farmers in China near to garment factories, can guess which colour will be 'on trend' for the upcoming season, by the colour of the rivers that flow through their land. Refinery29 - I'm sorry, what?
I also know that I will absolutely, categorically, NOT allow my small to grow up with this burden on her teeny little shoulders. It is not fair. I refuse to allow her to feel responsible in any way, shape or form, for our destruction and greed.
I know that it is for this reason and all of the reasons above that I started Barefoot Baby, ethical clothing for kids.
I want to make sure that the clothes she wears, that I buy her, are not contributing to this. I will not allow her to feel this guilt. The thought that she might, quite frankly terrifies me.
I feel strongly that as parents it is our duty to shield our children from this risk of despair, of worry, in any way that we can. It is not their fault we have ended up this way. It is ours.
So we've established this eco anxiety thing is real, really real. As I know I'm feeling somewhat uncomfortable from the above, and if you do suffer, I apologise if I have caused you more anxiety in my post.
I am aware that I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to the horrors of the fast fashion industry. I wanted to highlight a few home truths, not terrify you completely.
But there is light.
This is something we can negate. We can all source our clothes from ethical retailers. GOTS certified cotton brands. Buy our clothes from companies that don't use planned obsolescence, that make clothes that last. Stop shopping for convenience and think about the ethics behind this stuff, the consequences of our actions.
We can all buy gender neutral clothes that can be worn by all of our children, boys or girls. We can reuse clothes, stained clothes for nursery, for play wear. We can all not throw our children's clothes away when we are finished, but pass them along to the next.
We can all take some responsibility to research where we buy our clothes from, to not send so much to landfill. To not change our wardrobes every year.
Maybe it is more expensive to buy clothes from "Ethical" companies, but if we don't replace things every season, the cost per wear is much, much lower. And the cost to the planet, incomprehensible.
So in the words of Vivienne Westwood "Buy less, choose well".
Thanks for reading and good luck on your own journey to an ethical, sustained future.