Towards a working practice of not being miserable about the planet

plus pie charts

Every week in this newsletter I spout off in a million directions, without a unified theory of why. And you all have been far too patient with me. I was working something out. I’m still working something out, but in these iterative times, I want to share seedlings more than plants, batter more than cake. Who am I kidding, I would love to share cake. If only it could be delivered electronically.

I’ve been working on a recipe for how to stay mentally healthy in an ever-warming world. For something like a decade I’ve wrestled with my Mean Greens, and while I haven’t extinguished them, I’ve blunted their growth. They’re frothy seafoam now instead of fiery seaweed. I can’t say if this will work for everyone, but it’s done wonders for me, and I’m hoping to elaborate on this formula in my next book, which will come out someday.

For years I’ve made the argument that we need both incremental and systems change. It’s only over the past few years that I’ve realized we need both of those things within ourselves. We need small discrete behaviour change goals, and larger actions to work towards. Together, they comprise our action pie. Small efforts feel inconsequential without a bigger goal. Sustained efforts feel laborious without quick wins. It’s all about building your short and long, while wearing a shortlong.

Your smalls can be simple behaviours you want to make habitual, local climate efforts you want to help out with, emails you want to write, straws you want to eschew, water tanks you want to besweater.

Your bigs are the things that require sustained effort over time - a large campaign, a costly environmental retrofit, a sticky challenge, a full-time environmental job or volunteering gig. 

With both small and big goals, you’re never stuck. If the larger effort is proving challenging or unrewarding, you have the daily doings of small change to restore you. When your compost pile feels insignificant in the grand scheme of our rapidly exhausting carbon budget, you have your large project to chip away at. Again, I can’t promise COMPLETE ERADICATION OF YOUR ECOMALAISE™ but this formula is working for me. I would love to know if this resonates at all with you.

(This newsletter’s illustrations brought to you by ‘all the cardboard I have to reuse before I allow myself to use any other paper.’)

THIS WEEK

How do you combat your environmental blues? LMK

CUTE PEOPLE DANCING* 

*Or, playing violin. My sister and her band have been playing physically distant gigs at the old folks home. This 98-year-old man brought his violin out to join them. And if Que Sera Sera isn’t the song of our time, I don’t know what is. Normally, I’d have every centimetre of our summer planned by now, but we’re living in a rare moment of take it day by day. The future’s not ours to see. 

ON KINDNESS

Here’s my latest comic for Yes! Magazine.

Have a lovely week,

Sarah