Category Archives: Making a Difference


I know better than to self-diagnose but I thought for sure I knew what I had, and a bad case of it at that. It’s going around. It’s not as contagious as I thought it would be (or even as I think it should be) but those of us who get it tend to get it bad.

No, I don’t have covid. What I thought I had was eco-anxiety, otherwise known as climate-anxiety, or eco-distress, defined by the American Psychological Association as the “chronic fear of environmental doom.” All my symptoms pointed in that direction. Eco-anxiety can then lead to ecological grief, which is defined as “grief felt in relation to experienced or anticipated ecological losses, including the loss of species, ecosystems and meaningful landscapes.” Anyone who regularly reads this blog would probably agree with that diagnosis and a secondary part of my distress was the fear that my friends would ostracize me, afraid of ‘catching it,’ or even just finding it ‘unbecoming’.

In her book, Generation Dread, author Britt Wray argues that “we should be proud and relieved to experience these emotions; they are a sign of our humanity.”

That made me feel a little better.

She continues. “A sense of realistic danger is what’s fuelling the rise of eco-anxiety. It emerges when we feel our vulnerability and connections to what’s unravelling around us, and becomes adaptive when we are in touch with our ability to care. In this sense, eco-anxiety works like an antidote to the culture of uncare. That’s why some call it eco-compassion or eco-empathy. It is what happens when we bring our thinking and feeling together – a healthy, human way to function, as long as we stave off its ability to hijack our brains entirely!”

So that’s where the misdiagnosis comes in. I like to think I have eco-compassion or eco-empathy, not the more negative sounding eco-anxiety.

Joanna Macy, activist and author suggests “…it is a measure of your evolution, it is a measure of your humanity, it is a measure of your nobility that you have a heart-mind big enough to see and empathize with the outrage being inflicted on our world and all our relations.”

Noble? Me? That might be a stretch, but again, her words make me feel, well, nobler.

And, from the Lancet, a well-respected medical journal, “Recognizing that emotions are often what lead people to act, it is possible that feelings of ecological anxiety and grief, although uncomfortable, are in fact the crucible through which humanity must pass to harness the energy and conviction that are needed for those lifesaving changes now required.”

Very helpful.

So, I’m calling my ailment eco-compassion and I don’t want to get better. Don’t get me wrong, I want the health of our planet to get better, much better, but I don’t want to lose my sense of care for our one and only beautiful planet and all its living beings.

“Only when enough hearts break wide open will we start to heal the broken systems that are causing us to suffer in the first place.” (Britt Wray)


Photo from

Did you hear about the Red Alert in this week’s news?

Probably not. Most of us didn’t.

World Meteorological Organization is “sounding the Red Alert to the world.”

In his newsletter for Canada’s National Observer, climate correspondent Chris Hatch quotes the World Meteorological Organization (WMO): “The state of the climate in 2023 gave ominous new significance to the phrase ‘off the charts.’ He said the WMO officially certified last year as the hottest on record by a freakishly wide margin.

Hatch continues. “If you didn’t hear about the WMO “sounding the ‘Red Alert'” it’s probably because it barely made the news. The weekend weather forecast gets more coverage than a global red alert from the world’s meteorologists. Instead, we are inundated with articles and commentary gloating over the plight of carbon pricing or counselling strategic retreat on that policy.”

What is the main-stream media’s role in our apparent apathy, or even ignorance on the climate crisis?  That so many of us are blissfully unaware of the consequences of climate chaos is at least partly because main-steam media outlets aren’t giving us the whole truth. Stories of flooding and wildfires are covered, the words ‘climate change’ are suggested as a possible reasons for these catastrophes, but there’s no sense of urgency, no suggestion that world leaders are talking  too much and not acting nearly fast enough. If we don’t actively search out information (ie. the facts (not cliches) about the carbon tax) we won’t get accurate information and may believe that someone else is going to fix the climate emergency.

I’ve recently turned to Canada’s National Observer, The Guardian and The Tyee for more in-depth reporting.  Highly recommended.

We Can Do It

I wrote this piece as a letter-to-the-editor in response to an article on the impending drought and wildfire season.  I had to condense my ideas to 200 words. It was a good exercise. There’s so much more I wanted to say!



We know it’s coming, a summer drought and an out of control wildfire season.

The main difference between this crisis and the Covid 19 crisis was that the virus came at us like a bullet train hot out of hell, shocking us into action while the climate crisis has crept up on us slowly, over decades but is now set to cause exponentially more deaths than a mere virus ever could. But surely, if we can ‘flatten the curve’ of a deadly virus we can also flatten the curve of global warming using science, political will and public acceptance. Our individual behaviour changes would be a whole lot easier; no face masks, no social distancing, no lock downs. And we wouldn’t have to give up all those things we love like sports, theatre, dining out etc.

The solutions are many; an abrupt shift to clean energy, adopting plant-based diets, scaling back recreational air travel, and reeling in rampant consumerism to name but a few.

The climate crisis is now that bullet train. For our children, grandchildren and future generations, let’s act like we care, in our homes, our communities and in our country.




Words to live by

It was the end of a weekend-long conference for librarians and they were enjoying a celebratory awards banquet. Their spouses were included as were some authors who were seated at random tables and encouraged to chat with the librarians. Being an author, that’s how I found myself waiting for a meal, surrounded by strangers.

This event goes back fifteen years. For dinner we’d been given a choice of salmon or beef. I’d chosen salmon but had noted that there wasn’t a vegetarian option which would have been my preference.

When the meals arrived I was surprised to see that the man beside me received a plate of pasta, and it looked delicious.

“I didn’t know pasta was an option,” I said, trying to mask my plate envy.

“I requested a vegetarian meal,” he said, which I thought bold as he was simply the guest of his wife, a librarian. Being the cowardly person that I am, and being a guest, I wouldn’t have wanted to rock the boat so if I’d been served a meat other than fish, as had happened in the past, I would have given it to someone else and filled up on bread.

In those days I was always delighted to meet another vegetarian, we were so few in number, so I asked this man how long he’d been eating plant-based. I’d noted that his wife had chosen the beef option.

“Just a couple of months.”

“Really! What inspired you to take the leap?” I asked, truly curious about why some people adopt a plant-based diet even when their partners don’t. I know from experience that it makes meal planning more complicated.

“One day,” he said, “I just decided that enough was enough.” He didn’t elaborate, just tucked into his meal which I must say smelled as good as it looked. He gave me the impression that he didn’t want to discuss the topic further so I began to eat my own meal, wishing I’d also been brave enough to ask for a vegetarian option.

Enough is enough. 

That’s all he said, but his words have stayed with me over the years. I didn’t ask, but clearly he’d seen and heard the literature that promotes plant-based diets. He’d likely learned about the horrors of factory farming and the significant contribution of beef agriculture to global warming. So why don’t more of us say that – enough is enough – when we realize that our behaviour and lifestyle choices are incongruent with the health of the planet?

If it were only so simple. Life is complex. Systematic change is difficult. We don’t think that our individual actions will make a difference.

But that quiet man, that lone vegetarian at the long banquet table, he decided that he was no longer going to stick with the status quo. His individual action impressed me. Our actions speak louder than words. He didn’t feel the need to explain his choice, except to say those three words. And because of people like him, vegetarian and even vegan options have now become mainstream.

Enough is enough.

Words to live by.

Breaking up

Dear Fast Fashion,

It’s over. We’re done. I’m breaking up with you. 

Oh I know, I’ve said it before, but then you’d cast your spell over me with a new fashion trend, bargain basement price or targeted marketing that infested my newsfeeds. Yes, on many occasions you tempted me back when I forgot what matters; who made those garments, the damage you cause to the environment and the contribution you make to the climate crisis.

No, fast fashion, I truly am on to you and your corrupt ways now, the true cost that it takes to get your cheap clothing into my hands. You failed to tell me that your industry is responsible for 10% of the global carbon emissions, more than aviation and shipping combined, or that your synthetic materials, like polyester, require millions of barrels of oil every year. And how about the poisonous chemical dyes you pour into rivers? Shameful. And speaking of water, I now know your dirty little secret; one pair of jeans uses 9,000 bottles of water to produce!

And then there’s your contribution to swelling landfills! Your clothes don’t last beyond a few washes and then they’re tossed by the duped consumer. Like me.

Good grief, Fast Fashion. Does your industry lack a soul? Are the products you’d have me consume made under conditions that any decent person would consider humane? No! Those factory workers in Bangladesh are suffering, they work extremely long hours for below living wages. They are just cogs in a profit making machine, and your industry is doing extremely well in the profit making department.

I’m leaving you Fast Fashion, for something with integrity: Conscious Fashion. It’s been calling me for some time and I’m finally ready to move on.

Goodbye Fast Fashion. Please clean up your act.

*image from


Before anything significant can happen, it first has to be imagined. A world without slavery had to be imagined before the abolition movement could exist. A world where women are equal to men had to be imagined before women were eventually granted the right to vote. A new year has that ‘anything can happen’ kind of feeling. In that spirit, here is the perfect world of my imagination, an invocation to make it so.

Imagine that we wake each morning to the sound of birdsong. Bird numbers have returned to preindustrial numbers and their trills, warbles and whistles fill the air as they welcome the new day.

Imagine we rise each morning with our hearts full of compassion and not greed, full of wonder and not cynicism.

Imagine starting each day with a wholesome breakfast of food that we’ve grown in our own small gardens or was produced locally.

Imagine living in communities where people have access to smooth-running transit as we head to work and school. Even better, imagine communities designed with safe walking and biking trails for easy commuting.

Imagine that everyone is employed in work that contributes in a meaningful way to society, and that we enjoy doing over a four day work week.

Imagine that everyone has discovered their passions, those things that bring us joy without harming ourselves, others, or the planet. And imagine we can all find time each day to pursue these passions, whether they are playing sports, making music, art, cooking or any of a million other interests. May we also have time each day to care for our families, friends and people in need.

Should we become unwell, imagine that the medical system will be there to meet our needs, from consultation, to tests and treatment. Continue reading

The Day The World Stops Shopping

“We must stop shopping but we can’t stop shopping: the consumer dilemma has become, quite simply, the question of whether we can sustain human life on Earth.” (page 12)

You can see from the number of Post-it tabs on the pages of this book that there are A LOT of passages I need to return to for additional reflection.

From the back jacket: “In North America, we burn the earth’s resources at a rate five times faster than they can regenerate. Despite our effort to “green” our consumption, we have yet to see a decline in global carbon emissions. And economists say we must always consume more, because even the slightest drop in spending leads to widespread unemployment, bankruptcy and home foreclosures. Author J.B. MacKinnon addresses this paradox head-on. Is there a way to reduce consumption without triggering an economic collapse?”

It may sound ‘dry’ but it’s not. MacKinnon is an engaging writer. The book is a brilliant thought experiment that is as full of hope as it is of amazing and well-researched material. I could not stop reading and want to share this book with everyone I know. But because I also know that ‘everyone’ won’t find time to read it I’ll share some (and there are SO many) quotes from the book.

(page 60) (referring to the early months of the pandemic) Many people said the air had cleared because everyone was staying home. A more precise cause is that the consumer economy had stalled. Factories were closed. Planes weren’t flying. Shipping lanes were empty. Our daily commutes to earn money, or to spend it, were called off. It was the consumer dilemma made piercingly clear: our economics are driven by consumption, yet consumption drives our carbon emissions. The relationship is so strong that climate scientists have long used growth in one as an indicator of growth in the other. Accelerate the fashion cycle, and you accelerate climate change: cut back on the Christmas spending spree, and fewer CO2 molecules enter the atmosphere that year. Yet addressing climate change by reducing the scale of our consumption has never been seriously considered by political leaders.

(page 162) In a world in which billions of people already have enough apparel, the only way to keep them buying is to generate unnecessary demand. The way to create unnecessary demand is to accelerate fashion trends. The way to accelerate fashion trends is to make clothes cheap enough to buy more and more often. And the only way to make clothes that cheap is to cut corners on quality, working conditions, wages or environmental standards – the disaster of everyday life that Bangladesh has been living for years.

(page 247) Anti-consumers are more likely to engage with issues such as climate change, species extinction, racial injustice and poverty – matters that can be disturbing, depressing or even frightening. Since engagement with such topics is congruent with their values, however, it makes life meaningful – but perhaps not cheerful.

(page 10) Those who warn against consumerism have made two main arguments. The first is that a love for money and things indulges the lesser angels of our nature, such as greed, vanity, envy and wastefulness. The second is that every moment you spend thinking about money and things is a moment that could have been spent making a greater contribution to the human community through service, the pursuit of knowledge or the life of the spirit.

(page 83) …low or no economic growth was the norm through nearly all of human history.

(page 292) This book began with a question: Can we solve the consumer dilemma? The answer is yes, we can. In slowing an economy bound to endless expansion, we only rejoin the longer trend of more gradual growth seen throughout most of history: with ingenuity, we can adapt. The more personal question – whether we want to go down this path – is harder to answer. The evidence suggests that life in a lower-consuming society really can be better, with less stress, less work or more meaningful work, and more time for the people and things that matter most. The objects that surround us can be well made or beautiful or both, and stay with us long enough to become vessels for our memories and stories. Perhaps best of all, we can savour the experience of watching our exhausted planet surge back to life: more clear water, more blue skies, more forests, more nightingales, more whales.

If we care at all about future generations something has to give. Please read the book. You will be fascinated, shocked and, most importantly, inspired.

Not just socks ~ socks with purpose!

I recently purchased a pair of socks and the tag noted that they were B Corp certified, sustainably-sourced, ethically-made with zero waste. All good, but what does B Corp mean?

I used to think it meant the product was ‘B’ grade quality as opposed to  ‘A’ grade, much the way teachers mark essays.

I was wrong.

A B Corporation is a company that uses its business as a force for good in a variety of areas. B Corps provide high-quality goods and services, while also meeting and exceeding the highest standards in environmental impact, supply chains, treatment of employees, good for the community, accountability and transparency. Whether your goal is ethical shopping, fair wages for all or eco-friendly, B Corp are also working towards these goals.

Certified B Corps are for-profit busineses that are for balancing profit and purpose. B Corps are out to prove that you can do social good while still making money. (from (also B Corp certified).

Who wouldn’t want to support that?

So the next time you purchase a product or service that is designated B Corp, feel good about your choice. All our small choices add up to make  big differences.

And yes, the socks are awesome.


When my daughters were very young I used to set them loose in our local thrift shop a couple times each year. They loved choosing clothes, toys and books. And I loved that  I could outfit them for so little money.

Fast forward to their teen years. I didn’t dare suggest second-hand shopping in those days. Brand names and fitting-in were all  important so they had to settle for less in order to stay within the budget. I forgot about buying ‘pre-loved’ merchandise for awhile.

Recently a friend invited me to volunteer with her at a large church-run thrift shop. I hadn’t been in one for years and my last volunteer job had been at a grizzly bear refuge, helping care for the bears. That work had been so interesting.  Could working in a thrift shop come even close to being as rewarding?

The answer is yes. Absolutely. Maybe even more so. I get such satisfaction in seeing all those clothes and household goods get repurposed. I love watching the shoppers fill their baskets with treasures that they may not otherwise have been able to afford. I love knowing that the money earned by the store is channelled into worthwhile charities. And I wonder, why have I not been shopping in thrift shops all these years?

And as I become more involved in fighting climate change I realize how important the whole economy of second hand buying/selling is for our planet.

“According to the Journal of Industrial Ecology, mass consumerism is bad for the environment in a myriad of ways. Millions of shoppers buying and then discarding smartphones and TV’S, for instance, contribute to the fifty million tons of e-waste the world generates each year. If you were to add up all the stuff people around the world consume, everything from food to birthday presents to toilet-bowl cleaner, it would total a whopping 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total water, land and material use.” (from Hope Matters by Elin Kelsey)

So repurposing those items that we no longer need/want is a good solution. Our belongings are kept out of the landfill and charities reap the rewards. Less  ‘stuff’ has to be manufactured. Fewer natural resources are consumed.

And in the ‘what goes around comes around’ category, one daughter recently showed up wearing a beautiful  dress.  It looked fantastic on her.  “Where did you get it?” I asked.

“Thrift shop,” she answered.



I Am Only One

After viewing Seaspiracy and then the equally disturbing companion documentary Cowspiracy  my heart felt bruised. I’m ashamed of what mankind is capable of doing to sentient beings.

In order to heal my heart and feel some sense of control, I  return to these quotes.

Empowering words. And, I might add, no one is too old to make a difference either. Maybe that is the best time of all, when the distractions  of youth have passed and there’s time for reflection. And action. Every day.