I used to pass the Apple Store in Edinburgh every day on the bus home, and I’d always find myself thinking about how even when they were closed, their lights stayed on 24/7, simply to make the storefront look appealing. As well as this, they’d keep their huge glass doors open while blasting the heating into the shop. I used to get so frustrated, thinking about how I’d take every opportunity to keep energy use down, to recycle and reuse products, to be mindful of what I was consuming, and yet this one shop in one city was glaring at me every day, using more energy than I probably would in weeks. When I get anxious about climate change, it’s always around the same topic: I am just one small person, and even if I change my life drastically to help the environment, it is unlikely to make a difference when huge corporations are so destructive.
Since then, the focus of eco-friendly action has shifted more to single-use products and reducing plastics, but the same anxieties are now heightened. It always hits me when I see a clothes shop get rid of huge bags of plastic coverings, or when I buy something online and it comes in mountains of plastic packaging. The same thought still goes through my head years later; I’m just one person and this is just one package! There must be millions of these every day! It can sometimes send me into a bit of a spiral - and then these frustrations get even worse seeing news articles and adverts about how we can “all do our bit”, while corporations continue to actively make things a million times worse! It feeds into this weird sort of guilty feeling. Even if I’m putting a lot of effort into being eco-friendly, there are times where I forget my bags at the supermarket and have to buy a plastic one, or when I have to buy something from Amazon instead of a local business. These instances always make me feel guilty, like I’m not doing enough.
Combating climate based anxiety can be so difficult. I’ve been trying to reframe my perspective on what I can do. For example, instead of beating myself up for forgetting my reusable coffee cup, I make sure to remember it next time, and think of all the times I have used it. Instead of feeling like I’m not doing enough, I try to see it as me doing my best, which is still better than nothing! While this doesn’t stop the anxiety that rears its head when thinking about huge corporations destroying the planet, it does let me have a bit more control over how I view my own actions. I hope that in the near future, large companies with unfathomable waste levels will catch up and change their course, leading to a more sustainable future. Until then, I will do my best, try to focus on what I can control, and continue on in the fight for a more sustainable future.