Embarking on a sustainable 2021

A new year’s resolution that can impact our future

(Kristen Frier)

Last year I experienced eco-anxiety. Forest fires, droughts, and plastic pollution began to recklessly smash through the doors of my otherwise gentle thoughts. I could no longer read, watch, or hear about the climate crisis without feeling my jaw tightening.

Eco-anxiety or climate anxiety is defined as “mental distress caused by climate change and environmental degradation.” If the anxiety gets severe, individuals can experience “panic attacks, insomnia, obsessive thinking and depression.”

While I have not experienced those exact symptoms, I do think about what the world will look like twenty years from now. NASA recently released “Images of Change,” a slide show showcasing the before and after photographs of places in the world that have been affected by climate change.

As I scrolled through the images, I noticed a shocking picture of the Lonar Lake in west-central India. From May 25 to June 10 last year the lake changed from green to pink. The extreme heat evaporated a large amount of the lake’s water, leaving only salt behind, which caused the colour to change.

I don’t think it is fair for me to be experiencing eco-anxiety. The decisions made by political leaders and people in power created the outcomes shown by NASA: a planet that is slowly deteriorating. Ultimately, older generations are handing us their inheritance, a broken house that needs to be fixed.

This year, I want to change my habits and collaborate with eco-friendly initiatives as part of my daily life, and you are more than welcome to join me.

A few months ago, I saw a picture on Twitter that triggered my eco-anxiety. The photo was of old, dirty toothbrushes that were found in the sea. It was as if the ocean itself wanted to throw up our rotten breath.

According to the Candian Dental Association, individuals need to change their toothbrushes every three to four months. To me, that sounds like a ton of toothbrushes that somehow will find themselves in the ocean and eventually be spit out into the shore in some unknown part of the world.

My first attempt at living an eco-friendly life was by purchasing a bamboo toothbrush, which is biodegradable. The bamboo handle can take five to 10 years to biodegrade if buried in soil. However, if thrown in a compost bin, it will take four to six months to biodegrade.

It sure is better than those colourful plastic toothbrushes that will take 1,000 years to decompose.

Though bamboo sounds like a helpful alternative, I was shocked to see that it came in plastic packaging, which defeats the purpose of a biodegradable toothbrush.

Aside from the nightmare of ocean-polluting toothbrushes, countless single-use plastic bags are repeatedly used for mostly everything we buy. Instead of using plastic bags for shopping, I have resorted to using fabric bags that are washable and stylish.

You can have a different bag for groceries, and even when you are shopping for clothing. It might make you look a bit “different,” but who wants to be basic anyway?

I recently came across reusable wax food wraps. These are an alternative to clear plastic food wraps. There are a few benefits to these reusable wraps. First, they can last up to three weeks if washed and taken care of, and it’s biodegradable. They come in different sizes and colours, and it can save you from constantly wasting money on single-use plastic food wraps.

At last, my favourite eco-friendly purchase of all, my reusable notebook. I bought a RocketBook Fusion. The notebook has a synthetic white paper that uses a pilot pen. Anything written down can be erased using a damp cloth so the pages can be reused over and over again. It’s great!

I know my goal to an eco-friendly lifestyle will not instantly save humanity from the horrors of climate change. However, it makes me feel less environmentally anxious because I am doing something for the environment and future generations.