Zero Waste Berlin Festival logo
Eco Anxiety

Eco-Anxiety: What Is It and How Can We Fight It

For many of us engaged in sustainable activities, we do it because we’re motivated to build a better, healthier world for future generations. However, it’s often hard to escape the doom-and-gloom news that is all around us. We are living and fighting a climate crisis, and anxiety around that is a natural response.

This anxiety is often called eco-anxiety. Although it’s a perfectly normal response, that doesn’t mean you just need to accept it and live with it. In fact, the best way for you to get up each day and be the most sustainable, positive version of yourself is if you learn how to manage your eco-anxiety.

Already aware of what eco-anxiety is? Click to jump straight to our top tips for handling it!

What does eco-anxiety feel like?

Eco-anxiety is similar to other forms of anxiety, but is specifically triggered by a fear of environmental damage or ecological disaster.

You might feel any of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling constantly ‘on edge’
  • Difficulty or inability of concentrating
  • Feelings of irritability
  • Withdrawing from social contact
  • Noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle aches and tension
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach ache or cramps
  • Nausea and headaches
  • Insomnia

Engaging in sustainable activities and communities, such as a  zero-waste lifestyle, automatically exposes us to a lot of data and information about the climate crisis. We need to be aware of the facts about what the planet is facing, but that doesn’t mean we need to be overwhelmed by it.

The only way we can continue to work together and make a difference in the face of climate change is if we can find coping mechanisms. The good news is that you’re not alone. Here are some tips to help you manage eco-anxiety, if you feel like it’s getting you down.

It’s a process


No matter what stage of the zero-waste lifestyle you’re at, just by reading this blog post and engaging with the ZWBF community, you’re making the effort to educate yourself and taking the first step to becoming more sustainable. Every action that you take to reduce your own waste and your environmental impact is helping in the bigger fight against climate change.

It might take time and determination, but even the small actions you take today can have big impacts down the line. Remember the why behind what you are doing and how it will all come together in the end.

Take a time-out


Because of the high stakes, sometimes it feels like we can never take a break and that we have to be doing everything we can every single day. In reality, that’s just not doable for the long-term.

Know that it’s okay to take a time out and step away from environmental content when you need to. There’s no obligation to engage with environmental worries every single day. You’ll likely find that you’ll actually be able to do more in the world of sustainability when you are rested and fresh, rather than constantly ‘on’.

Lean on others


Communities and friends can really make a world of difference. Develop a support network of people who are also motivated about climate change, who you can talk to and get advice from when you’re feeling overwhelmed. The importance of community is part of why ZWBF was made in the first place and it’s always the absolute highlight of our year when we get to meet all the partners and visitors in person.

Our founder, Coral, talked further about self-care and how it intersects with sustainability in our recent IGTV with Hannah Schorch, sustainable fashion designer, empowerment coach, and founder of the circular brand, erie Berlin. Check it out here:


  • Rachael Davies

    Rachael Davies is a freelance writer and journalist based in Edinburgh, with work in National Geographic, Huffington Post, and TechRadar. You can find her on Twitter @rachdaviesetc or via her website.