ELEPHANTS AND EFFORT
It was windy on the day that I took this photo, which put me thinking about the expression “winds of change”.
During the process of art-making, as much as I enjoyed creating the elephant, I had moments of concern.
Recycling old damaged yoga mats into wall hangings was no longer enough, I felt. Surely I could do more?
Not everyone can simply kiss their worries goodbye with ease. It is absolutely normal for anyone who cares about our planet to feel worried or overwhelmed at times.
In 2020, researchers at the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science reported how eco-anxiety in its various guises is now a social problem. It needs be taken into account when it comes to healthcare and public discussion.
The American Psychological Association concurs. It published ‘Climate anxiety in young people: a call to action’, a report which includes this comment:
Feelings of climate distress might also compound other daily stressors to negatively affect overall mental health, potentially leading to increases in stress-related problems such as substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression.“-J. Wu, G. Snell, H. Samji (2020).
CLIMATE CHANGE AND CHILDHOODS
Psychologists tell us that intense anxiety causes panic attacks, insomnia, and obsessive thinking. Thank yoga, my own moments of self-doubt and dismay about planetary issues are not debilitating, and I know how privileged I am.
It saddens me that in children, feeling tense is something that is being experienced at a younger age than ever before. Sociologists have reported that an estimated 1·6 million school-aged protestors in 125 countries demanded action be taken to combat climate change in recent years, which tells us just how concerned youth populations are.
My childhood was spent living near a wild bird sanctuary lake, in an area with lots of native trees. I loved all the sights and sounds around me, and the experience of living in Marlfield instilled a reverence in me for nature.
In 1993 I started making art from recycled materials. It was fun to use whatever I could find to make sculpture. Of course, like many artists, I found the cost of materials prohibitive and that motivated me to use found objects. Most of all though, it simply felt right to reuse things.
TEACHERS AND LEADERS
When my son was born, sourcing organic vegetables to give him very best nutrition that I could became my priority.
On my quest to seek chemical-free food I met wonderful people who kindly shared their wisdom and life experience with me. They taught me about the environment and opened my eyes to planetary issues at a time when every day internet access to information had not yet manifested in Ireland.
As my son grew up, so I grew. Yoga came much later.
So is this all happy ending stuff: did I evolve, become a yoga teacher, improve step by step and never make mistakes again? Not all all. Look at this as an example:
FROM ‘CHEAP’ TO REAL CHANGE
This yoga mat started tearing and peeling after just four uses! Why? Because it is cheap PVC shit, imported from China.
I bought a box of these mats a few years for women who were on a very low income. I knew that the producst would not last long, but I had no money to do better at the time. The women were delighted to have a new mat each, but I was dismayed when bits started peeling off so soon.
In 2017 I pledged to avoid PVC mats in future, and so began the search for genuinely Earth-friendly options. After trawling through lots of fake claims and endless adverts that were lies / corporate green-washing, I found what I wanted. Now I use a yoga mat that is so Earth-friendly, it will eventually be added to the garden compost!
Before Summer solstice I will add another post about yoga and practical ways of how you can make positive changes on any budget.
Kathryn Crowley is a writer and tutor based in Kerry, Ireland. Freelance writing opportunities welcome.
Heather B. Patisaul, Heather B. Adewale (2009). ‘Long-Term Effects of Environmental Endocrine Disruptors on Reproductive Physiology and Behavior‘, Front Behaviour Neuroscience.
World Health Organisation (WHO) 2016. ‘Dioxins and their effects on human health’ 2016.