We are barraged with climate news everyday. Whether you choose to read them or not, we know in the back of our minds that the state of our planet isn’t, well, the best.
Eco-anxiety, a term used to describe the fear of an impending environmental doom, is increasingly affecting people worldwide, especially the youth and vulnerable social groups. A climate report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this year confirmed that “climatic events and conditions have observed and detrimental impacts on mental health”.
For World Mental Health Day in 2022, the World Health Organisation launched a campaign surrounding the theme “Making Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority” to acknowledge the progress towards mental health awareness, and continue to normalise conversations around the topic.
Sustainability is the life and soul of Tortoise, and it’s something that dances on our minds a lot, brand and personal-wise. For World Mental Health Day, we are taking this opportunity to pause, reflect on our journey with sustainability, and to think about how we can do more not just for the planet, but for ourselves and people around us.
Accepting that what’s best for the Earth may not always be the best for us, and vice versa
Have you ever found yourself feeling conflicted about buying something that you really want, but isn’t the most sustainable thing to do so? Maybe it’s that pair of sneakers you have been eyeing for the longest time or something else, the temptation to indulge yourself after a stressful week at work is something we’ve all been through.
As with any choice, every action we take to live more sustainably comes with opportunity costs. Likewise, making decisions that put ourselves first can come at a cost to the environment. So how do we come to terms with that?
One of the secrets to making sustainable choices is found in the term itself: sustainable. When we set out to do the best for the Earth, we’re in for a long (but fulfilling) journey, and all the more we need to take care of ourselves to sustain this journey.
Doing what works best for the Earth and for us as individuals is a delicate balance that can sometimes leave us struggling with the guilt or frustration of having to choose one over another. It’s perfectly fine! Accepting imperfection and celebrating small wins are what keep us going.
Recognising that everyone’s on their own journeys
There are many takes on sustainable living, and while they are usually meant to guide and inspire us, it can feel overwhelming with so much information out there.
It’s not about comparing
Most people don’t want to talk about their mistakes and failures publicly. The “perfect” sustainable lifestyle content you see on social media is only a puzzle piece of the complete picture. In reality, it takes a lot of consistency and effort to live sustainably. We are all trying our best in our own ways, so give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve got this!
On the other hand, it’s easy to judge others for not being sustainable “enough”. You may have encountered people using way too many plastic bags for their groceries. However, you’re seeing only a snapshot of their everyday lives - who knows, they could turn out to be vegetarians! In any case, we simply don’t know enough to judge. Encouragement and respect are essential for everyone to live and grow at their own pace, together.
We’re all coming from different places
Privilege matters - the choice and capacity to deal with climate change is a privilege that’s not shared equally, influenced by our socioeconomic status, nationality and many other factors. Sustainable products are definitely not known to be cheap and thus not always accessible to all. . It’s okay to make a choice that’s financially sensible, than to bootstrap yourself (or expect someone to).
We’re individuals coming from different backgrounds and life experiences, and so there is little meaning in comparing who's doing a better job at sustainability. In this battle against climate change, we need to uplift one another, so be kind to yourself and extend the same kindness to others.
There’s a pause button, even for superheroes
We’re quite literally saving the world! Superhero or not, you and us alike are doing what we can to slow down the environmental changes happening around us. Remember to take breaks as you need, as we said, the term “sustainable” is not only for the planet, it’s also for you. Moreover, there are millions of us like-minded people who’ve got you covered, so log off and resume whenever you’re ready. If someone around you looks like they could do with a good break, give them the space to do so.
Set some time aside every day to take care of yourself! World Mental Health Day is not the only day to do so, and we are leaving this message out there for anyone who needs a gentle nudge every now and then. Go as slow as the tortoise if you like, or as quick as the hare, but it’s no competition - we’re in this together!