Beauty marketing shouldn’t be a cause for climate anxiety: Here's how you can help

By Julia Wray | Published: 18-Apr-2023

With more people than ever experiencing negative emotions related to ecological crises, we ask, how can brands drive activism and optimism through their sustainability messaging?

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Climate anxiety, or eco-anxiety, is the term used to describe distress relating to the climate and ecological crises – and it is on the rise, globally.

More than two-thirds (68%) of US adults have reported ‘at least a little eco-anxiety’, according to a 2020 poll by the American Psychological Association, while the Australia Institute’s Climate of the Nation 2022 report found that 75% of Australians are concerned about climate change.

In Great Britain, an Office for National Statistics lifestyle survey, which ran from 14 September to 9 October 2022, revealed that a similar 74% reported feeling ‘very or somewhat’ worried about climate change, with 28% falling under the ‘very worried’ banner.  

Moreover, climate anxiety is more prevalent among children and young people.

A global survey of 10,000 16 to 25-year-olds by the University of Bath (2021) found that 59% were ‘very or extremely worried’ about climate change, with a massive 84% confessing to be ‘at least moderately worried’.

According to experts, climate anxiety can be connected to many negative emotions including worry, fear, anger, grief, despair, guilt and shame.

As the Climate Psychology Alliance’s Linda Aspey, who is also a Member and Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), explains: “Climate anxiety has its emotional roots in loss and uncertainty: about what’s happening now and in the future, how we and our loved ones will be impacted, what or who we can trust, losing power or being helpless.”  

But there are indications that it can also trigger climate action.

An October 2022 study, also by the University of Bath, found that higher climate anxiety was found to be predictive of a higher frequency of some pro-environmental behaviours, such as encouraging others to save energy, buying second-hand items, borrowing or renting items and repurposing items.

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