Eco-anxiety… are you a sufferer?

There is no planet B.

“Eco-anxiety is anxiety about ecological disasters and threats to the natural environment such as pollution and climate change.” Source

As somebody who suffers from a mild case of eco-anxiety, I’m trying to convert my worries into encouraging positive change. I believe having these concerns is a positive thing – to me, it comes from acknowledging the problem with our environment and hearing the science loud and clear.

Last week, I was fortunate to attend The Open University’s Climate Emergency Forum, which was educational, frightening, and most importantly, well-needed. Recently, 104 local councils and 6 UK universities have declared a Climate Emergency. The forum I attended had speakers from some of those universities, as well as some of our very own expert academics.

To repeat some of the shocking numbers you may have seen elsewhere, there are currently 8 million tonnes of plastic being dumped into oceans every year. If this continues, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050. That is quite frankly scary and embarrassing. So, what can we do as individuals and what can The Open University change as an organisation?

Did you know that as a student of the OU, you are already helping to reduce our carbon emissions on a large scale? Although I’m not a scientist, it’s obvious to me that by choosing to study with a distance learning provider, you are reducing your carbon footprint by removing the need to travel to a university campus. The OU has recently announced that all its electricity supplies are now 100% certified green – which means going forward its electricity will come from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydropower.

But it doesn’t stop there! There are many aspects of our day-to-day life that we, can consider changing. Our behaviours and the way we travel, shop, eat and dispose of our waste all have an impact.

To make a difference, we need to make lifestyle changes – both small and large. One small change you could make today is trying to have less meat and fish in your diet. Animal agriculture is one of the biggest polluters to this planet so thinking more carefully about diet and what you consume is a pragmatic way of helping to reduce your carbon emissions. You could also, if possible, travel by bike or public transport and of course cut down on single-use products, not just plastics.

If you would like to work with the OU Students Association on raising awareness and speaking up on matters like this, then get in touch with us at

For more information on reducing your carbon footprint and making lifestyle changes, visit the following pages:

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Sammi Wright

Sammi is a member of the Students Association staff team.


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