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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Tuominen

Struggling with eco-anxiety?

How the "Imperfect Sustainable" approach helps make sustainable living simple

Do you ever feel guilty about not being sustainable enough? Do you worry that your personal choices are harming the planet? If so, you may be suffering from eco-anxiety.


Sustainable shopping made simple


What is eco-anxiety and what are the causes?

Eco-anxiety is a term used to describe the feelings of anxiety and despair that people may experience in response to environmental issues. It is a relatively new phenomenon, and there is still much research needed to understand all its facets. However, what we do know is that eco-anxiety is real, and it is affecting an increasing number of people around the world.

There are many scientific explanations for eco-anxiety. One theory suggests that it is a form of anxiety known as "catastrophic thinking." This occurs when people fixate on worst-case scenarios and allow their imaginations to run wild with all the potential disasters that could occur. This can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Another explanation is that eco-anxiety is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is because many people have witnessed firsthand the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. Others have seen the news reports and videos of melting glaciers, dead animals, and smog-filled skies. This exposure can trigger PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, and depression.

Eco-anxiety is also a reaction to eco-guilt. This is the guilt that people feel when they realize that their actions are contributing to environmental problems. For example, someone who drives a gas-guzzling car may feel eco-guilt when they see reports about air pollution and climate change. This guilt can lead to eco-anxiety as people worry about the future of the planet and their own personal contribution to its destruction.

8 in 10 young people are worried about the climate

What do you do if you’re experiencing eco-anxiety?

Eco-anxiety is a real and valid concern. We know that human activity is causing climate change, and that this will have devastating consequences for the planet. We also know that our current level of consumption is not sustainable.

So it's understandable that you may feel anxious about your impact on the environment. But here's the thing: you don't have to be perfect to make a difference. In fact, striving for perfection can actually be counterproductive.

When it comes to sustainability, we often think of it in terms of "all or nothing." We either do everything perfectly or we don't do anything at all. However, this black-and-white thinking can actually be quite damaging, leading us to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of the many challenges we face.

Instead, It can be helpful to think about sustainability in terms of "imperfect action." This means that every little bit counts and that even our smallest actions can make a difference.

Here is how embracing imperfect sustainability can help you reduce eco-anxiety :

  1. Remembering perfection is unattainable. There is no such thing as a perfect sustainable lifestyle. You can't do everything right all the time. And that's okay!

  2. Imperfect action is better than no action at all. Every little bit counts. If everyone made small changes in their daily lives, it would add up to a big difference.

  3. Perfectionism can lead to paralysis. If you're so worried about doing things perfectly, you may never actually get around to doing anything. It's important to just start somewhere.

  4. You don't have to do it all yourself. Change starts with each individual, but it doesn't end there. We need to work together to create systemic change.

  5. The goal is progress, not perfection. Remember that you are on a journey. It's not about being perfect, it's about making progress. Every step in the right direction is a success.

Here are some simple things you can do to live a more sustainable life:

  1. Reduce your energy consumption. One of the easiest ways to reduce your ecological footprint is to simply use less energy. Turn off lights when you leave a room, unplug electronics when they're not in use, and dress for the weather instead of relying on air conditioning or heating.

  2. Recycle and compost. One of the best ways to reduce waste is to recycle and compost as much as possible. This keeps valuable materials out of landfills where they can release harmful chemicals into the environment.

  3. Eat less meat. Meat production is one of the leading causes of environmental degradation, so eating less meat (or none at all) is a great way to reduce your impact. Additionally, buying local and organic produce helps to support sustainable farming practices.

  4. Shop secondhand. Another way to reduce your consumption is to shop secondhand whenever possible. This keeps perfectly good items out of landfill and reduces the demand for new products, which helps to conserve resources.

  5. Walk or bike instead of drive. Whenever possible, choose to walk or bike instead of driving. This cuts down on air pollution and traffic congestion, and it's also great exercise!

If you're struggling with eco-anxiety, know that you're not alone. And remember that every little bit counts. You don't have to be perfect to make a difference.

Living a sustainable life doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. Every little bit counts, so start with some small changes and see how you feel. You may be surprised at how easy it is to make a difference.

Want a simple way to embrace imperfect sustainability? Download our FREE Chrome Extension which allows you to shop sustainably with every purchase!

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