FREAKING OUT? READ THIS

A few things going RIGHT in the world: farmers' markets are on the rise, more than a million acres of ocean have been protected this year, and green walling is taking root. 

WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER

Working on Loam gives me the kind of potent hope that is grounded in reality. I get to talk to farmers and chefs working together to reinvigorate soil-driven cuisine; I go to workshops that empower people to live sustainable, succulent lives. I meet all these amazing people who aren't just talking about a better world but are actually doing the hard work of healing our earth. 

But of course, I'm not immune to epic eco-anxiety spirals. The soul-lifting conversation I have with an international reforestation expert can be eclipsed when I learn that a fragile butterfly habitat in Florida has been destroyed. I read an article on the point of no return recently and FREAKED OUT. I careen from hope to devastation, searching for evidence that the world is healing and finding proof that some things are getting better and some things are getting worse.

Our reptilian brains are powerful. They will push us to be fearful, to act from anxiety and not love, to take and not give. Hope requires greater vigilance. Whenever I fall prey to panic-driven reports, I recall the following two things. It's these mantras of mine that have kept me anchored to this earth even in the thick of trauma. 

(1) WE DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING. I deeply believe in science and statistics. The stakes are HIGH and it's imperative that we take political, economic, and social actions based on projections from climate change experts. Healing our environment—from enacting laws that protect vital ecosystems to breaking free from fossil fuels— isn't about saving the world. It's about saving us. 

When we assume, however, that the world is going to shit and there's nothing we can do, this certain mindset is the same exact man reigns supreme mentality that has created the conditions for environmental devastation. We don't know everything. We can't control everything. And so we need to leave room for hope, for the very real possibility of change, not only because it's kinder to our sanity but also because it's a challenge to the capitalist belief that we've got the absolute read on how the world works. 

(2) WE TAKE SUSTAINABLE ACTIONS TO ENRICH OUR PRESENT. Oftentimes, when I read an article on rising sea levels or speak with a frontline activist on the loss of their indigenous land, I ask myself why am I even doing this? Why do any of us bother? The devastation that fills me in that moment is immobilizing.

But that's a dumb question. Living sustainably isn't a sacrifice I make in service of a better future. I do what I do because it brings me peace of mind and presence in this very moment. Even if the world were to go up in flames tomorrow, I would still fight for climate justice and buy my fruit and veg from the farmers' market and sort the recycling because these steps—some big, some small—give my life today meaning. We have to take actions that bring us joy and clarity in our lives. And we have to do so with a healthy detachment from any singular outcome. 

 

Each one of us will be paralyzed at one point or another by doom and gloom. So if you are freaking out, it's okay—hell, it's necessary. Just remember to come up for air. Because hope is embodied. Hope is everywhere. And you, little loving human bean, are an agent of positive change. You have all the resources you already need to heal our environment and radiate love—that sweet sauce that climate change can never change.