As a relatively new parent (Gilbert is now approaching his first Birthday), my days are now filled with nappy changes, tidying up toys, and generally just moving all of the “stuff” that we seem to have accumulated from one place to another. He grows out of clothes so quickly that we have some things that he’s outgrown before he’s even worn them. So we have bags and bags of clothes rotations, which just seem never ending. I manage to sort through one pile of clothes, just in time to have to sort through the next pile.
I try my best to live an eco-conscious lifestyle: we use cloth nappies and wipes, all of Gilberts clothes are second hand, and all of the other baby related paraphernalia has been passed down from friends. But I find myself in a constant state of worry that I am not doing enough… no one else is doing enough… and what on earth is the world going to be like for Gilbert and his peers in the future.
A friend of mine messaged me recently, to say she felt she needed to reach out and talk to someone about her struggle with eco-anxiety. She currently has one child, and although she’d love more children, she is not sure if she should have another, as she already feels guilt ridden at bringing her first child into this world.
And I don’t blame her! Although I had heard of eco-anxiety, it hadn’t really struck me that other people have these thoughts too. We too worried about bringing a child into this world, and I know it was met with eye rolls and the sense that we were being all doom and gloom… things aren’t that bad right?!
I don’t understand how people aren’t worried about their children’s futures. Only last month, Iceland held a funeral for the 700 year old Okjokull glacier, which once stretched for 6 square miles, and is now just a memorial plaque on a piece of rock.
The plaque reads “This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”
As I write that I feel the same lump in my throat and dull ache in my forehead that I did first reading about the lost glacier.
But instead of focussing on the doom and gloom of it all I try to be proactive. It’s the only thing I can do to stop the feeling of guilt. I want Gilbert to know that I didn’t just sit back and watch while more and more species became extinct, while temperatures rose and while scientists warned us of the urgency to ACT NOW!
On Friday 20th September 2019, Gilbert and I stood with a few hundred others in our local town and joined the Global Climate Strike. I found it quite emotional. Writing the words ‘Striking for HIS future’ on an old cardboard box, that lump in my throat reappeared, I put him in the sling and we walked down to join the strike, and as I kissed his forehead I thought again… what will his future be like?
So here I am, talking to anyone who will listen, blogging about it, striking, and trying to spread the word. I want to encourage a more sustainable way of life, and lead by example. I am not perfect, but as Anne-Marie Bonneau so perfectly put it:
It’s sometimes easy to feel a little helpless, and if I sit and dwell on it it can be quite overwhelming. But what we can do is make lots of small and simple swaps in our lives to create a more sustainable lifestyle, and try and make governments and those with power understand that we want change!
Did you strike on 20th September? Do you feel eco-anxiety as a parent? What are you doing to combat this? I’d love to hear your experiences, and help to support each other in how we can help secure our children’s futures.
(Photos taken with permission at the Global Climate Strike in Huddersfield, 20th Sept 2019)