This week I discovered that there is a word for the way I have been feeling over the past few years and it has helped me to realise that although I may be surrounded by people who aren’t troubled by this feeling, there are plenty of other people out there who do feel the same as me. Enough for there to be a word for the emotion.

Wikipedia describes Solastalgia as being ‘a form of emotional or existential distress caused by environmental change. It is best described as the lived experience of negatively perceived environmental change. A distinction can be made between solastalgia linked to distress about what is in the process of negatively perceived change and eco-anxiety linked to what may happen in the future.

The word was coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht in his 2003 book Solastalgia: a new concept in human health and identity. He describes it as “the homesickness you have when you are still at home” and your home environment is changing in ways you find distressing…In 2015, an article in the medical journal The Lancet included solastalgia as a contributing concept to the impact of climate change on human health and well-being.

My feelings of what I now understand to be Solastalgia have been bubbling away for a long time now, but since moving to a rural part of Scotland it has definitely become stronger; read my previous couple of posts to understand why. I dreamt of living in Scotland for so long, yet I never would’ve imagined that I’d get negatively branded as being ‘posh’ simply because I am into using bins – it is very strange to be considered a weirdo because I don’t throw my trash into the beautiful, ancient woodlands. I genuinely believed that rural folk would care more about the environment over city folk and it has kind of devastated me to realise that the opposite is true.

So what can we do to try and counteract the feeling of despair when you are informed enough to understand that our planet is rapidly dying? What if you realise that recycling your waste and trying every way possible to not pollute the environment just isn’t going to be enough? What if it really does feel that the morons outnumber the people who give a shit?

It might feel utterly futile, but there are really simple, easy ways for us to keep our own little patches of the world healthy as we can which don’t cost a penny. Here are a few ideas which may be of use to someone.

  • If you need a vehicle, get the most environmentally friendly one that your budget will allow. Do you need to drive around in a massive jeep? Is it necessary? Ask what is lacking in your life if you need to drive a massive vehicle for no apparent reason.
  • Always, at every single opportunity, use a bin to dispose of your waste. This is probably the easiest thing to do in the world and yet so many people reach adulthood without mastering this skill. I’d really, really love to understand why this is the case (I hope one day a billionaire will fund research into this issue and develop a way to scan people and eliminate them if they are prolific litterers).
  • Don’t burn plastic waste. This applies to everyone no matter what your profession is. And by this I mean farmers.
  • Also one for farmers: if you leave plastic feed bags or tubs/buckets out in the fields, ensure that you gather these up before they blow off into the wilderness and end up in the beautiful woodland burns.
  • Got an old sofa/mattress/TV/fridge? These do not belong in a forest. Simply drive to your local council tip and get rid of them for free. It’s probably a lot easier than driving up a dirt track with a trailer full of shite. You may not think so, but I think forests are a lot nicer if they don’t have rotting furniture in them.

In summary: I want a safe and healthy planet for my children. Simple as that. Do your bit and stop being so fucking selfish.