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Burnout? Have you tried an app for that?
So uh, turns out that trying to be super-productive in a capitalist world on fire is actually exhausting.
They told me I should take time off. Because I’m burnt out. A month off, maybe two, maybe more. Maybe maybe.
And I will take it. I began writing this weeks ago. I felt it approaching. Like a tipping point.
But how can I be burnt out when everything is on fire? I said. The fire is in full fury, I said. Did you not read the news? Did you not hear the speeches on the streets? Our house is very much still on fire. How can I stop now - just when everything is happening all the time?
Like everyone who checked the right boxes in standardised education, teachers called me a bright young spark growing up. And the thing with sparks - they either fizzle out or burst into flame.
I’m burning out because I care, because I love this planet with an all-consuming passion, like a sickness, like an addiction that makes you do weird things. Makes you get on a bus for 16 hours, again and again. Makes you go vegan and write newsletters at midnight and dream unsettling things.
I thought the passion would sustain me. How can I put myself first, I thought, when I am a drop in the ocean and you are the ocean, and the fields and forests and mountains and air?
But there I go again. Accidental capitalist. Separating myself from nature.
And lately I felt that passion flickering, or twisting, into a feeling I can’t find the words for. This Great Somethingness - how do I describe it?
The feeling that me and you and the world around us are moving in parallel. Species die and we get sicker. Forests fade to ashes and so do we. And I’m watching it through Twitter.
It’s the waking-nightmare of watching human economies push ceaselessly past our planetary boundaries and I -
I try to push through tiredness and tipping points and it’s 11pm and I’m staring at my inbox waiting for - for what? The email that will turn this all around?
We said more is better. We said stay productive. We said we are above nature, above a dependency on natural things. Air, clean water, crops. Sleep. Food.
We said land is there for seizing, hours are there for rationing out, oil is there to be used. The world is yours for the taking!
And so, I did not sleep. I did not slow down. Faster is better, I told myself. More is more. I could not stop. The time is now, now or never, and if I believe the news, I’m not sure tomorrow’s coming anyhow.
As cities flood and countries burn, the world shifts on its axis. I know because I felt it one day. Walking home. The ground giving way beneath me. Had to hold on to the wall for a second.
Doctor, I’m getting dizzy all the time, I said. I’m exhausted and I think my memory is going. I thought there used to be birds here. I thought there was once a clear path forward but now I can’t remember what it is.
You’re probably deficient in something, she said. Low blood pressure. Low blood sugar. Take it easy.
Deficient, you can say that again. I am nature-deficient, future-deficient, safety-net deficient. All around I see things that I used to have.
Take it easy, Cass. How is any of this easy? To stay still in the face of rising tides, rising prices, rising temperatures.
Make sure to eat properly, she said. I stare at her. Consumption is what got us here in the first place. We wanted more and more and now we have less.
Energy - I burned it. Personality - turned into a brand. Time - I gave it away.
Because you see: when we lose our childhoods, our future, our money, our trees, our energy, our naivete and hope - well there is our false friend waiting with open arms. Our stop-gap solution. Toxic partner.
Just work one more day, one more deadline and I’ll give you some relief, it says. Just one more email and it’ll be over. Haven’t you heard it’s all over soon anyway? Haven’t you heard the world is ending? Maybe once you get to this Friday you’ll feel fulfilled.
This day has lasted years. No relief. No air. No trees. No plan.
And no caffeine, no pills, no apps, no bullshit feel-good greenwashed advert can fix this. Your unnatural solutions to an unnatural problem do not interest me.
You call it burnout. I call it system-sickness.
You, the system, tell us that we’re the problem. That we can carbon offset and mindfulness-app our way to freedom. That we can buy our happiness in ‘unmissable’ discounts. Swallow this pill and these pretty promises politicians make and turn your heating down and maybe you’ll quell the dissatisfaction for now.
It’ll be OK by 2050, they say. In the meantime, if the prospect of mass extinction and unaffordable heating and the rise of the far-right and misinformation and droughts and poisoned oceans scares you - maybe you should look into therapy.
No, offsets and condolences will not reset the world on its axis.
No, keep your sympathies. They don’t serve me. I know what I need.
You call it recovery. I call it rewilding.
I have to go back to the start. To the soil, the roots of the problem.
Because I did the work. Now it’s time for the rest. Got to sleep. To eat. Unravel.
I’ve got some rebuilding to do. So do you. A green new me, green new deal, green new future is coming - or are you too busy to create that?
[Image: From @thenapministry, a racial and social justice movement untangling rest from capitalism, the patriarchy and white supremacy.]
I want to fix the earth. I want the earth to fix me. The river is my pulse. Clean air, water and soil are my vital signs. Solar power is the solution. Ocean power is my painkiller. My community is my medicine.
And justice is the cure. Justice is the cure.
I am rewilding, it starts within me.
The stifling sickness of capitalism, I am expelling it. Expelling it and its false binaries and its hustle culture cult and its childlike need to polarise us, build walls and simplify a world that is, by nature, complex. I am casting it out - first from inside me, and you, then from the whole damn world - agreed?
This is not consumption, this is reparations. This is not extraction, it is redistribution.
That energy is mine - I want it back. That sleep, that joy, that hope - I am claiming what has been taken from me, from us. I am taking it back, I am going back, I am coming back.
The Green Fix will keep running, thanks to the fact that I run this newsletter with a whole amazing team. Stay tuned as we get our act together and we’ll also be sharing opportunities on Twitter @TheGreenFix and LinkedIn.
In the meantime, if you like The Green Fix, you can tip us a virtual coffee.
What’s Going On?
Leaked documents show fossil fuel companies still deliberately lying about their climate plans.
Related: New report reveals how Shell, BP, Chevron, Exxon and TotalEnergies are funding climate misinformation.
Sign up to Wren for the chance to easily fund climate solutions. For a monthly contribution, Wren will fund a mix of projects to offset carbon emissions: from conservation to climate policy. Sign up with our unique link and have an extra 10 trees planted in your name!
So Now What Do I Do?
Read: When your job is watching the world burn (the article that made me accept time off is not defeat).
Tune into a webinar on how to achieve climate justice at COP27 this 6th October.
Join the hybrid Climate Action Summit this 12th-13th October on how to reach a net-zero future.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Submit your entry into this social media contest to show how your community is tackling the climate crisis. Deadline 16th October.
Make your own renewable energy. Here’s how. Webinar on 18th October.
Dive into the concept of effective altruism at the virtual global summit on the 19th October.
CHANGE THE SYSTEM
EU: Call on energy ministers to tax fossil fuel companies and use the windfall to address the energy crisis.
BE: Less than a week until the Code Rouge protest - are you joining?
Stay in the loop
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