For the past three weeks I’ve been “quarantining” at my mom’s house in New Jersey where my brother, his wife, and my grandmother are currently staying. Needless to say I’ve been living outside of my comfort zone and outside of my normal routine. It seems I am always confronted with my own privilege, biases and overall financial security whenever I leave my bubble in DC to visit family in inner city New Jersey.
My biggest struggle at the moment, besides the obvious, is my increasing eco-anxiety. According to the American Psychological Association, “eco-anxiety” can be defined as a build up of stress and anxiety in relation to “actual or potential impacts of climate change.” It could very well be the fact I’ve only recently started my low-waste, eco-conscious journey, but the amount of food waste, un-recycled recyclable items, and just overall poor waste management at my mom’s house is so upsetting to me.
As I said, this no doubt has to do with my own privilege and bias as someone who has amble time to research and educate myself on climate change and my impact on the environment. At the same time, I find that my family, for example, is not interested in change. Not knowing is one thing, but not willing to change is a completely different thing.
Another thing I’ve noticed living with my family again, is the sheer amount of unnecessary purchases made. Sometimes I wonder if it is due to a sense of insecurity from having grown up without amble resources, or a psychological side effect of income insecurity. Having been the first person in my family to grow up with all the comforts of “working class America,” I can see a clear disconnect between my family and I. On the one hand, I can understand how scarcity as a child can leave a permanent fear of instability, but not having experienced it myself, I can’t relate.
Of course this is only speculation, and I am not a trained psychologist, so I think the only thing I can do is to continue to educate both my family and anyone else willing to listen.
To end on a positive note, the current situation and major shutdowns have also created an opportunity for us. Everyone on the internet keeps saying life will not be as it use to be, it wasn’t working and it needed to change. The planet is starting to feel that change, and we get to witness glimpses of it. I think we’ve been so use to our surroundings that we never stopped to think about what life could be like without significant pollution, smog, and poor air quality. Now that we are able to see the possibility of a cleaner tomorrow, if nothing else, it should motivate us to do better.