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Solastalgia

I have been trying and failing to write this blog for a few months now. I couldn’t decide on one topic and also kept telling myself that I am not a writer, so this blog post now appears to be a mashup of all the topics (pandemic, environmental change, being more environmentally conscious as a vegan brand), but I’m OK with that. Maybe this is exactly as it was meant to be, because after reading back the past few months of my journal this is what I have been writing about. However, maybe it would have been neater to split the topics up into separate blog posts, but then it would not have been authentic to me and would have felt rather disjointed, so I apologise in advance for the following ramble.

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The past few months have seen a lot of change take place around the world. Now as countries begin to ease their lockdown restrictions we emerge to a new normal. A new way of living and going about our daily lives. Some think this new normal will continue from this point forward, whilst other’s see it as a temporary change and once a vaccination is found we will go back to our old ways. I honestly would not like us to revert completely, there have been some rather positive things come out of this awful and sometime scary situation.

But whilst none of us know what will happen, but I do think that there will be permanent changes that come from this or at least there should be. I also think that we should all be striving every day to be better and do better for ourselves and others and the world we live in.

Clear skies over skyscrapers Canary wharf

Clear skies over the skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf area of London this week. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

We have all by now seen the numerous pictures of the environmental changes that have occurred around the world whilst we have been in lockdown. The skies are clearer, the air cleaner the seas returning to their natural and beautiful colour’s and even though I recycle and compost my food waste etc., I realized maybe I should be doing more and began to worry that I was not doing enough. The emotional response I was having reminded me of a National Geographic article I had read a month or so ago about the emotional responses people have to environmental changes and the word Solastalgia coined by Glen Albrecht to describe that response.

Albrecht an Australian environmental philosopher coined the word in 2003 and it describes the destressing emotion that people feel in relation to environmental changes. Albrecht states “what solastalgia is attempting to define is a loss of sense of place”. He does not believe that our language is rich enough to effectively describe and understand our circumstances and how we feel and therefore we have to therefore create them.

So why am I telling you this? Because what was interesting to me about this word when I read the article, was not the word itself, but what the word meant. The idea that the environmental impact of climate change and the changing landscapes as a result of that caused an emotional response I found interesting and somewhat surprising. Yet here I was having my own emotional response to just that, yet I had been surprised at the thought of this months prior.

I’m not sure why I was surprised that people had emotional responses to environmental changes, because when you think about it, it is natural. What once was is no longer. Are the emotions elicited from the loss what once was or from the fear of what the world will become? I’m not sure what triggered my response, I just know that I suddenly felt that I was not doing enough and needed to do more. It took seeing the images of clear skies and blue seas for me to really appreciate our negative impact on the world and therefore to really think am I doing enough?

Navy blue cork journal

I began to journal about my feelings and to work through my thoughts about the article, the pandemic and the environmental changes in the world as a result of the pandemic and realized that once again I was being too hard on myself. I journal most days as a way to reflect on my day and to work through my feelings as I can sometimes overthink things.

By doing this I realized that yes, I can do more, but also that I was not giving myself credit for what I am already doing. I’m vegetarian and crawling towards being a fulltime vegan. I recycle and compost and try not to buy single use. I am more aware of where my clothes and accessories come from and who made them. And I started a vegan and sustainable brand to provide quality accessories that are an alternative to leather and at affordable prices.

So whilst I was giving myself credit in my journal, for starting my business, making it vegan and using plant based materials, (currently only cork, but watch this space), I started to think what else could I be doing? How do I go about making sure that the brand and the items produced are sustainable and eco-friendly and have the smallest impact on the environment. That our items are minimal in design and timeless, and therefore increase their longevity and contribute less to slow fashion. This is how I will continue to help the environment and move forward as a vegan and sustainable business.

So what steps are you taking to help the environment?