Earlier this winter I read her book. It was excellent. Not only does it talk about eco-anxiety, what it is and how to cope with it, but it gives some very actionable ideas, all centered around the 7 "service superpowers." [To learn more about that, check out my post on that subject.]
While my highlights were many, here were the elements I found most striking and serve as my top 6 thematic takeaways (and reasons why you should read her book for more information).
Eco Anxiety Is on the Rise
One Green Thing: Discover Your Hidden Power to Save the Planet). [All quotes from this book will be tied to parenthetical page numbers.] She's largely talking about Generation Z (aka: anyone born after 1997) With generalized anxiety, suicide, and depression on the rise since 2011--along with increased screen time and then a pandemic--anxiety and loneliness go hand and hand. (paraphrased from p. 145). Since 2018, the United Kingdom has had a "Minister for Loneliness" (and other countries like Japan are beginning to follow suit). Layer in the fact that people and news outlets are finally now talking about the climate crisis (whereas for years it was a largely absent news topic), it has given our Gen Z'ers a lot of concern about what we adults have left them.
- "Only 8% of plastics are recycled." (page 6)
- "A study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund found that we eat about a credit - card size worth of plastic each week." (p. 196)
- "Most families throw out 3 kg [6.6 pounds] of otherwise edible food a week." (p. 267) This then leads to the following two statistics:
- "Food waste generates 8% of global carbon emissions." (p. 181)
- “If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third-largest emitter of CO2, after China and the United States. ” (p.181)
- "The fashion industry contributes 10% of global carbon emissions." (I)
Social justice is tied to environmental justice. The climate crisis leads to greater incidents of extreme weather like drought, wildfires, hurricanes, as well as water pollution. This then can impact more and more people. "Malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition and heat stress will be the biggest causes of death." (p. 135) Sadly, the biggest countries for polluting wind up heavily impacting other smaller more vulnerable countries. So wealthier countries like the US who are creating some of the bigger problems are gifting these other countries a pretty crummy gift.
Additionally, within our own country, it tends to be the black, indigenous, people of color who are living in poorer areas, near harmful factories spewing off waste and polluting the air. They are further from the green spaces, making the areas concrete, heat jungles more so than white neighborhoods, so overall health is worse, and as a population, they are more vulnerable. Equity and climate change and justice go hand in hand. (Paraphrased from p. 158)
The Good News, As Promised!
The Foreword of One Green Thing was written by Erin Brockovich. Might have heard of her. She called Heather "the Brené Brown of the environmental movement because she makes environmental action personal, doable, and joyful" [Forward, page x] It is through the collective action of small steps which grow upon each other that momentum is created. Fun and easy repeatable habits become rituals, making it more likely for you to keep doing it. The more you do it, the more you inspire others to do it. These are the basic tenets of Heather White's philosophy. (Paraphrased from page 6-10.)
flexitarian approach to reducing your meat intake helps the planet. Do you need to go all out vegan or vegetarian? No! Every little thing helps. Taking on small green actionable things feels wholeheartedly doable. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. In between counts.
Book image from https://www.amazon.com/One-Green-Thing-Discover-Hidden-ebook/dp/B09D7J665V, screenshot of 7 superpowers from https://www.onegreenthing.org/profilesoverview, Van Gogh quote from https://cmpdigitalupdate.com/-Quote--71--Thought-Provoking-Tuesday, eco-anxiety image from https://climate-creativity.com/blog/eco-anxiety-article/, biodiversity image from https://www.safeworldhse.com/2020/04/biodiversity-types-importance-loss-conservation.html