Climate Guilt - What it It & What to Do About It

Image of a statue of a man huddling in guilt

What it is

In a nutty little shell climate guilt (eco-guilt or green guilt) is the guilt of those who realize that are not doing everything they could be doing to defend the natural environment.

Go On...

Eco-guilt is a feeling of remorse or guilt that a person may experience when they recognize that their actions are contributing to environmental damage or degradation. This guilt can arise from a variety of situations, such as using disposable plastics, driving a gas-powered vehicle, or buying products that are packaged in unsustainable materials.

Eco guilt can motivate people to make changes in their behavior in order to reduce their environmental impact, but it can also lead to feelings of helplessness or despair if a person feels overwhelmed by the scale of the problem.

You Are Not Alone

Guilting and anxiousness are common in regard to climate change. Climate change is affecting everyone and you are not alone if you are experiencing emotional turmoil over environmental issues. Your feelings are valid.

How to Deal With It

To deal with eco-guilt, it can be helpful to focus on the things you can do to reduce your environmental impact and make positive changes. Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Educate yourself about the environmental issues that you care about. This will help you understand the root causes of these issues and what you can do to help.
  • Take action to reduce your environmental impact. This could include things like reducing your energy consumption, using reusable shopping bags, recycling, and composting.
  • Support organizations that are working to protect the environment. This could include donating money to environmental charities, volunteering your time, or supporting eco-friendly businesses.
  • Connect with others who share your concern for the environment. This could include joining an environmental group or attending events focused on environmental issues.
  • Be kind to yourself. It's important to remember that no one is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. It's okay to feel guilty, but don't let it hold you back from taking action to make positive changes.

The key to dealing with eco-guilt is to focus on what you can do to make a difference, rather than beating yourself up over past mistakes. By taking action and working to protect the environment, you can help reduce your eco-guilt and make a positive impact.

My Own Environmental Guilt

Becoming environmentally conscious began when I was a young boy. My father who had been a logger, hunter, and farmer had a real love for mother nature and he instilled it in me. The funny thing is I don't think he realized how deeply he engrained in me his love of nature.

As I grew older I continued to develop a deep respect and awe of nature but didn't always listen to my inner green voice. I did things like knowingly using too much water, driving unnecessarily, and taking vacations without giving any thought to sustainable travel.

Even though I had great respect for the planet I fell into the trap of letting my job, the mortgage, and all the other trappings of modern American life distract me from what is important.

An Act of Serendipity

It took an act of serendipity to reawaken my love of living sustainability. It came first as an accidental introduction to permaculture via a bike tour of farms in Hawaii. Once awaken to how important it is that we defend the planet and its inhabitants there was no turning back.

After years of working in corporations, I found it increasingly harder to convince myself that the corporate grind was a good thing. I had jobs that people would consider good with great benefits, great pay, and even work that was “meaningful.” However, I was building someone else’s dream.

Reconnecting with What's Important

To reconnect with the planet and reignite my passion for the environment I began to hunt for ways to do so. I started familiarizing myself with the issues facing animal farming and its impact on the environment. After that, I became interested in reducing plastic pollution, zero-waste packaging, renewable energy, and just about every other topic that falls under sustainable living.

Although I intellectually understand what I should do, I still sometimes waiver back and forth in my efforts. I have developed habits that support an environmentally friendly lifestyle but I'm still learning, growing, and trying to live more sustainably every day - it's a never-ending effort.

I definitely have experienced my share of environmental guilt.

If you'd like to read my journey from corporate mope to activist, a practitioner of permaculture, and a hands-on promoter of sustainable living you can do so here: Introduction to Permaculture – My Journey and Environmental Hypocrisy: Are We Doomed?

Don't Ignore the Guilt

If you don't deal with the guilt it can become much worse and possibly develop into more serious circumstances. Guilt can lead to overwhelm, which can morph into anxiety and even anger.

Ignoring environmental guilt can have a number of negative consequences for individuals. Some of the potential impacts of ignoring eco-guilt include:

  • Emotional turmoil: Ignoring guilt can lead to ongoing feelings of discomfort, and unease. It can also contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress, as individuals may feel like they are trying to suppress or deny an important part of their emotional experience.
  • Relationship problems: Guilt is often tied to our relationships with others, and ignoring guilt can lead to problems in these relationships. For example, ignoring guilt about something that has harmed something important to you can lead to a breakdown in trust and cause damage to the relationship.
  • Difficulty making decisions: Ignoring guilt can also make it more difficult for individuals to make decisions. Guilt can be damaging and can make it difficult for us to change or make quality ethical choices. When we ignore the guilt, we may find it more difficult to make decisions that align with our values and beliefs.
  • Disrupting personal growth: Finally, ignoring guilt can impede personal growth and self-improvement. By acknowledging and dealing with guilt, individuals can learn from their mistakes and make positive changes in their lives. Ignoring guilt can prevent this process of growth and self-improvement.

Ignoring guilt can have a number of negative consequences for individuals, both emotionally and in terms of their relationships and overall well-being. It is important to find healthy ways to deal with guilt and to address the underlying issues that are causing these feelings.

Guilt Can Trigger Overwhelm

Another big issue associated with eco-guilt is feeling overwhelmed. If you don't address the issue (take action) the guilt can cause you to feel overwhelmed and helpless.

Dealing with overwhelming can be challenging, but there are some strategies that can help:

  • Identify the specific source of the overwhelm: The first step in dealing with overwhelm is to try to identify the source of the feeling. Is it a specific environmental concern you have that is causing the stress, or is it a more general sense of being overwhelmed by all of the issues facing the planet? Once you have identified the source of the overwhelm, it can be easier to come up with a plan to address it.
  • Break it down: If you are feeling overwhelmed by a specific issue, try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable bites. This can make the issue feel less daunting and gives you a place to get started.
  • Set priorities: When you are feeling overwhelmed, it can be helpful to take a step back and identify what is most important. What tasks or responsibilities are truly essential, and which can wait or be delegated to someone else? By focusing on the most important tasks, you can help reduce the sense of overwhelm and make an impact sooner.
  • Take breaks: It is important to remember to take breaks and give yourself time to rest and recharge. Taking short breaks can help you stay focused and avoid burnout.
  • Seek support: Finally, don't be afraid to seek support when you are feeling overwhelmed. This can include talking to a friend or family member, seeking the help of a therapist or counselor, or joining a support group. Having someone to talk to and share your struggles with can be a big help when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Climate Anxiety

Climate anxiety is a relatively new phenomenon, but it is becoming increasingly common as the impacts of climate change become more apparent and more people are exposed to information about the impacts.

It can be particularly difficult for those who are directly impacted by climate change, such as those living in areas prone to extreme weather events or those whose livelihoods are threatened by environmental changes.

Not a Mental Illness

Eco-anxiety is not currently recognized as a specific mental illness by the psychiatric community. However, the symptoms of eco-anxiety can be similar to those of other anxiety disorders, and it can have a significant impact on an individual's mental health and well-being. As such, it is important for individuals experiencing eco-anxiety to seek support and treatment if they are struggling with these feelings.

Treatment options for eco-anxiety may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Therapy can help individuals to better understand and manage their feelings of eco-anxiety, and can provide a supportive space to explore their concerns and develop coping strategies. Medications such as antidepressants and anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications) may also be helpful in managing the symptoms of eco-anxiety.

ATTENTION: I am not a doctor nor do I play one on the internet so I encourage you to consult with a qualified doctor before consuming any medications.

While eco-anxiety is not currently recognized as a specific mental illness, it is a real and significant concern for many individuals, and it is important for those experiencing these feelings to seek support and treatment if needed.

There are several things that individuals can do to manage and reduce their climate anxiety:

  • Seek support: It can be helpful to talk to someone about your feelings of climate anxiety, whether it is a friend, family member, or mental health professional. Sharing your concerns and getting support from others can help to alleviate feelings of isolation and provide a sense of community.
  • Take action: Taking action to address climate change can be a powerful way to reduce climate anxiety. This can include things like reducing your own carbon footprint, supporting environmentally-friendly products and practices, and advocating for policy changes to address climate change.
  • Practice self-care: It is important to take care of yourself and prioritize your own well-being, especially when dealing with difficult issues like climate anxiety. This can include things like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and finding ways to relax and de-stress.
  • Limit exposure to negative news: Finally, it can be helpful to limit your exposure to negative news and information about climate change. While it is important to stay informed, it is also important to find a balance and take breaks from the constant flow of information.

Climate anxiety is a real and significant concern for many individuals, and it is important to find ways to manage and reduce these feelings. By seeking support, taking action, practicing self-care, and limiting exposure to negative news, individuals can better cope with climate anxiety and work towards a more sustainable and healthy future.


Eco anger, also known as environmental anger, is a type of emotional response that can occur in response to environmental issues or problems like the destruction of natural habitats, pollution, and other environmental degradation. Eco anger is a natural and healthy response to these issues, and can be a powerful motivator for action and change.

Eco anger can manifest in a variety of ways, including feelings of outrage, frustration, and disappointment. It can also lead to a desire to take action and make a difference, whether through activism, volunteering, or other efforts to protect the environment.

While eco anger is a natural and healthy emotion, it is important to find healthy ways to express and manage it. This can include finding ways to channel your anger into positive action, or seeking support and guidance from others who share your concerns. By finding healthy ways to express and deal with eco anger, individuals can use this emotion as a catalyst for positive change.

Privilege and Environmental Guilt

Privilege is a term that refers to the advantages and benefits that individuals or groups may experience due to their social, economic, or cultural status. This can include things like race, class, gender, and other factors that can shape an individual's experience of the world.

Environmental guilt is a type of guilt that individuals may experience in response to their own environmental impact or the environmental impact of their community or society. It can be driven by a sense of responsibility or concern for the natural world and the impact of human actions on the environment.

For individuals with privilege, environmental guilt may be particularly complex. On the one hand, privilege can often provide access to resources and opportunities that allow individuals to live more sustainably and have a lower environmental impact. On the other hand, privilege can also insulate individuals from the consequences of environmental degradation, and make it easier for them to ignore or downplay the issue.

Dealing with environmental guilt can be difficult, but it is important for individuals with privilege to recognize and acknowledge their role in contributing to environmental problems, and to take steps to reduce their own environmental impact.

Progress Not Perfection

You may find yourself feeling regret after Uber Eats delivers four separate containers. Maybe you feel ashamed when your friends ask where you bought this *cough* quick fashion piece of clothing. Or maybe you are in paralysis from over-analysis.

Whatever your situation is, find a channel to redirect that guilty energy into one of growth and action. Let the guilt guide you into action not defeat. The world needs all of the Green Warriors as possible so be happy stay healthy, and kick ass.

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Join us in our quest at to save the planet by crushing one destructive emotion (aka a 'Better Choice') at a time.