Eco Anxiety.

Things I am currently feeling guilty about:

  1. The amount of fuel required to transport Chilean-grown blueberries to Los Angeles.
  2. I don’t carry a re-usable bag to the supermarket.
  3. I drive an SUV.
  4. I like driving an SUV.
  5. There are at least thirty appliances in my house that are plugged in at all times.
  6. I think I accidentally threw some old batteries in the trash last week.
  7. The world of my grandchildren will be ungodly hot, semi-submerged and polar bear-free because I can not sleep in a room that isn’t air-conditioned.


I could go on, but I think my problem is pretty clear; I have eco-anxiety.   In case you haven’t heard of it, Eco-Anxiety is the new, trendy neurosis that’s striking urban liberals at an alarming pace.  I first noticed the symptoms last year, after I watched An Inconvenient Truth.  I found myself fervently recycling, trading incandescent lightbulbs for CFLs, and shopping at farmer’s markets on a regular basis.  But the more I’ve learned about going green, the more anxious I’ve become.  Because the inconvenient truth is, it’s not easy to be a hold down a job, raise two kids, run a household, get dinner on the table, schlep to a million after school activities, remember to R.S.V.P. to birthday parties and also maintain a composting pile. 


Of course, the composting pile is the least of my problems.  What I really meant to say is, it’s not easy to completely change my lifestyle and all of my habits in order to make the world just a little bit greener.  I mean, just a few short years ago, the only things I felt guilty about were missing bath time because I had to work late, or taking a weekend getaway without my kids.  But now, I feel guilty for just about everything.  Forget lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.  The new deadly sins are using clothes dryers, taking long showers, running the air conditioner, driving an SUV, buying imported foods, eating red meat and putting snacks in plastic baggies.


I have to say, though, I’ve been pretty good about fixing the error of my ways.  I can live with line drying my clothes.  I can sleep with the windows open.  I can eat turkey burgers instead of hamburgers.  But everyone has their weakness, and mine, like many sinful Americans’, is the sport utility vehicle.  For three incredible years, I have driven my luxury SUV with nothing less than pure love.  The huge trunk.  The optional third row.  The rush of knowing that I could flatten a wayward Fiat like a bug.  But now, it seems that my moment of inconvenient truth is about to arrive, because, God help me, my lease is up.



I can't believe this happened to someone else. One day I think I am a hero because I recycle, the next day, I killed all the polar bears. I too watched an Inconvenient truth. I was ready to sell our house (except for the fact, no houses are selling) and live off the grid. Surely we could live without the 7 tv's and yes the SUV. So inspired to build a better enviroment, I have gone back to school. Surely through this "eco-anxiety, mid-life crisis" something good will present itself. PS..The guilt for forgetting the reusable grocery bags is by far the worst of eco guilt.


I think if you don't have a little bit of ecoanxiety there might be something wrong with you. That said, you have to live your life. You have to have a vehicle that will fit your family. I drive an SUV because I can get 2 carseats, 2 adults and a dog into it. And GASP! Horror of horrors! I NEED it to safely haul my eviler than evil boat to the lake so that I can spend quality time with my family. I guess the fact that "reduce, reuse, recycle" is the mantra by which my family lives our life just isn't good enough for some people. I'll just turn up my stereo and tune them out...

Maybe instead of harping on each other about the cars we drive, we should be harping on the auto industry to come up with something that's better for the earth.


Credit for all the great things you ARE doing, props for telling the truth despite your eco-anxiety - there are some things we just WANT period. As a mom who works for one of those automakers (sold my SUV this year for sedan, btw) this is top of mind - on both sides. For me I rationalized the convenience factor to save fuel costs. On weekends we will take the dog to kennel and not with us. Parents will have to drive themselves out to weekly dinner together. In the end I am saving resources on my commute to school & work but not on those particular cases when I actually needed the SUV... and I feel more popular.
Robyn (GM, if you're interested)


So true travelsavvymom. I have the sunscreen confusion too! What's a mother to do :-)


Check out the Mazda 5: 28mpg around town, seats 6, ugly from the back (nobody's perfect).

By the way, my eco-guilt is being eclipsed lately by my Am-I-poisoning-my-kids-with-sunscreen guilt.



I have eco-anxiety too! And I drive a gas guzzling SUV - my lease isn't up for a while yet. But I do think that some of the station wagons are kind of cool. BMW, Audi both have great ones. I think the mpg has got to be better than where you're at. Plus, I think by the time you get out of your next lease you'll have more beautiful SUV options with better mpg to choose from. Automakers know this is a concern and are quickly working to solve it. Good luck!


I hear you on the eco-anxiety. This is the first time I've heard that term, and I know I've got it. I think it's a good thing, though -- I'm more aware of small changes I can make that will have a positive impact on the environment. I've noticed that many of those changes have a positive impact on my pocketbook, too, which is the incentive I needed to go further with my changes. I applaud any changes you make, Risa, and you should pat yourself on the back for the things you *do* rather than the things you don't do. If you want to see some of the changes I've made, check out my blog:

Sarah Edwards

Hi, Risa. I agree you are indeed doing a good job of responding to your concerns. I just want to reassure you that eco-anxiety is not limited to being a "new, trendy neurosis that’s striking urban liberals." While it is indeed occurring at an alarming pace, it is striking people in all economic circles, because it is a dual concern - one about caring for the Earth and the other about caring for ourselves. The effects of the "Inconventient Truth" are showing up now on a large scale not only in the lives of polar bears and other creatures but also in painful ways now in our own economy. So all the things you're doing are helpful to all of us and to your family as well. So you certainly don't need to feel guilty any more. You can feel pleased for taking care of yourself and us all. Thanks and many blessings. Sarah