There has been some significant changes for me recently; I’ve finally finished university after 4 years and I’m about to move my life to the other side of the country. I am very excited, but there are some nerves… and a very long job hunt is ongoing which is causing some stress, but, c’est la vie. Perhaps my most prominent fear is of my sustainability journey and how it is changing with the easing of lockdown. I am trying to navigate integrating my impassioned values with my life in the wake of restrictions being lifted. I have to be honest, it’s something I’ve been struggling with. It has also been a knock to my confidence in terms of blogging and putting content on Équité Fashion. There seem to be a fair few people experiencing this, so I’m shining a spotlight on ‘Green Guilt’!
What Is Green Guilt?
Green Guilt stems from the extensive environmental consequences of today’s world. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to get away from the damage we are doing. There are constant articles and warnings that we NEED to heed. David Attenborough has bought the uncomfortable truth of the Climate Crisis into the comfort of our homes. I think this has been incredibly important and I love seeing the ‘Attenborough Effect’ and how it is affecting young peoples actions. It really is incredible.
This month, Remake’s May Community Call was all about compassion fatigue. Remake’s founder, Ayesha, made an excellent point on this topic that I believe goes hand in hand with feelings of Green Guilt – we care. The existential issues that we care about, focus on and are trying to tackle, naturally way down on us. Not to mention that because we care, we can feel guilt surrounding our choices, needs and wants.
Navigating Post-Lockdown Life and Sustainability
Now that restrictions are lifting and we are gaining more freedom, I feel worried about how my sustainability will change. I have really built on my values of doing good for people and the planet over the past year. Given Lockdown and not needing to consume much I feel I have made progress but that now it might change. Here’s why:
- Travel – It is no secret that I love to travel. I feel very lucky to have been bought up with parents who have shown me amazing parts of the world. This has been a huge privilege, I’m aware, and I definitely want to experience more of the world and see new things with M. But, travelling means my carbon footprint will go back up, and this is something I feel guilt about.
- Buying Fast Fashion – For a year now, I haven’t bought any fast fashion… until about 2 weeks ago. Starting back at work I realised I needed some black trousers and white shirts. I resorted to Zara as sustainable options are just not in my budget at the moment and I couldn’t ignore enormous amount of guilt I felt. This was probably due to the campaigning I have done with Remake and especially because I have just been given the role of the UK Community Organiser. I am so aware of the hardships garment workers across the globe go through, and I was upset to put my money into a company that condones maltreatment of garment workers.
Top Tips to Combat Green Guilt
Whenever you are passionate about something, it is easy to get wrapped up in your own head. When I have talked to others about the issue of sustainability, I think it’s apparent that on an individual level we feel the pressure as industrial change is not yet in full swing. Don’t get me wrong, I am WELL aware that our individual efforts will not bring about the change we so desperately need. BUT, I do want to do my own part, as I feel we all should, in trying to make the world that little bit better than how we found it.
How can we do this?
- Acceptance – I think that ‘rule number one’ is realising that we cannot do it all. We all need to do whatever we can to make the world a better place. Through recycling, travelling less, buying less, signing petitions, sharing injustices and just generally trying to be a decent human being. But, we also have to acknowledge that we need to carry on campaigning for industrial change and for new laws and restrictions to help the climate crisis.
- Mindfulness – I am much more aware of where my clothes have come from, how the people who made them are treated, what they earn and the affect my garments have had on the planet. I have come to the conclusion that I am not going to be able to cut out fast fashion forever. But, I am so much more grateful for the garments. I’m a bit of a self-confessed hoarder – I am quite good at rewearing clothes that I love for a long time.
- Realisation – You are still making an impact no matter how big or small your commitments are. Everything and anything we do that helps the climate crisis and people in unjust situations counts. Through my involvement in Remake I have realised that collectively we can all make big differences through small actions, such as signing a petition or sharing an info-graphic on your own social media.