Five reasons why taking a stand for nature will ease your eco-anxiety

Have you ever logged into social media to be met with a slew of shocking headlines, resulting in hours of doomscrolling? Have you switched on the TV, only to be bombarded with bad news?

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Climate-anxiety and eco-anxiety are now common phrases in today’s vocabulary. Through global surveys and university studies, the implications of these feelings on our wellbeing are becoming more and more evident. The findings are clear: climate anxiety is rational and a feeling experienced by many of us. 
The doom and gloom you’re faced with when thinking about your future might make you feel hopeless, powerless and alone. But with 75% of millennials said to be experiencing similar feelings, it’s important to remember that you aren’t powerless, and you certainly aren’t alone. 
So, what if we could all come together to make a real change?

What is campaigning?

Studies have suggested that taking action could alleviate some of the negative feelings associated with eco-anxiety.  
The energy from apprehension and nervousness can be used to fuel a positive action. And that’s where campaigning comes in! The definition of campaigning is to work in an organised and active way towards a particular goal, typically a political or social one.  
When it comes to political decision making, nature doesn’t have a voice of its own. Yet, it is heavily impacted by many of the decisions made. Nature has the ability to help us to store carbon, reduce flooding and build more resilience in the face of a changing climate. Now is a critical time to speak up for UK wildlife – for our bees, birds and hedgehogs - and champion nature-based solutions to fight the climate emergency.

We campaign because they can’t. Together we can influence and challenge those in power to make sure they make the right choices that benefit both nature and all of us. 

Why should you campaign?

1. Campaigning works for nature

Looking back through history, we can see plenty of examples where campaigns have had immense impact on individuals and across society. Organised protests were responsible for the introduction of the Disability Act 1995, and the Bristol Bus Boycott in 1953 resulted in the UK’s first ever laws against race-based discrimination. 

Campaigning, when organised effectively, has the power to change the world.

You might think sustainable materials and second-hand shopping are trends of recent times, existing as an antidote to the mass produced, throwaway clothing of modern society. But did you know that the RSPB’s founders were originally campaigning for ethical womenswear over 100 years ago?

In 1891, Etta Lemon, Eliza Phillips and Emily Williamson joined forces to form the RSPB, united by their determination to put an end to the plumage trade which was driving Little Egrets and Great Crested Grebes to extinction.

Portraits of RSPB Founders Emily Williamson (left) and Etta Lemon (right).

The fashion for feathers in headwear was valued at around £20 million per year in Britain alone. That would be similar to taking on a fashion industry giant today, but without the use of phones or the internet to organise! And guess what? 

They won!

The RSPB is still rooted in science-led campaigning. Since then, with over one million members on board to back us, we have celebrated even more wins together. With your support, we were recently able to push for the banning of industrial sandeel fishing, in the English waters, North Sea and all Scottish waters, and help to pass a bill in Scotland to protect our peatlands and our birds of prey.

We’ve proved we can do it – and with you on board, we want to do so much more!  

2. And campaigning works for you

So, what do you have to do to become a campaigner? The answer is: whatever works for you. The most important thing is to have a clear goal in mind. Then you can decide the actionable steps, little or large, that you’re going to take to get there. From signing an online petition to attending a march, there are plenty of different ways you can campaign to suit you and your needs.
Here at the RSPB, we’re using our platform and our reach to do the organising to achieve maximum impact. Sign up as a campaigner to get the latest updates on where you can take action with us.

Megan McCubbin, RSPB Ambassador, speaking on stage at a march. There are fabric protest banners behind and in front of her

3. It's hopeful

Can you imagine a future where towns suffered from fewer floods, because the water upstream flowed more slowly and naturally? A meandering river’s gravel banks are also used by Salmon to spawn and its slow flow helps vegetation to grow, enriching the food chain. 
Perhaps you’d like to picture a world where we’re effectively locking up carbon in our peat bogs to combat the climate emergency? Meanwhile, Golden Plovers pick through the invertebrates in these wet uplands, while Golden Eagles glide overhead looking for prey. 
Campaigning asks you to have a clear, positive vision for a world you would like to see. You need to do some big picture thinking, coupled with some actionable steps to help you get there. Instead of being caught up lamenting losses, you have to imagine the future you would like to see! 
Best of all, campaigning also gives you the opportunity to celebrate because there will be wins (and plenty of them!).

A Golden Eagle flying against a background of mountains.

4. It's community

Most importantly, campaigning can give you a sense of community. It offers you the opportunity to meet others working towards the common goal to help resolve any feelings of isolation you might be experiencing. Making a stand alongside people who share your passion is a powerful thing. Meet friends and be part of a movement fighting for a cause you really care about. Every action, every placard and every chant shows that you’re not alone. Together, each one of us can make a real difference.  

If you’d like to take a look at what campaigning can look like, then catch up with our round-up of the Restore Nature Now  march from Saturday 22 June 2024. This was the largest march for nature yet, and rallying alongside other environmental charities, including the National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and WWF-UK, the demonstration offered a perfect opportunity to meet up with nature lovers and climate campaigners.  

5. And now is the perfect time

The arrival of a new Parliament marks an important moment for nature. In 2022, the UK signed a global deal to take urgent action to halt and reverse the loss of nature and manage 30% of land and seas for nature by 2030. In England, this deal is backed by domestic commitments, including a legal obligation to halt species declines by 2030.    

As part of meeting that target the Westminster Government must:   

  1. More and better funding for nature-friendly farming   
    70% of UK land is farmed. For nature to recover, it must be at the heart of how that land is managed.   
  2. Improve and expand the protected space for nature   
    The UK Government is committed to protecting 30% of our land and seas for nature by 2030, but at the moment we’re way off this target.
  3. Planning with nature at its heart for our economy to thrive 
    Restoring nature is vital for a thriving economy and our health and wellbeing. The new UK Government must put nature at the heart of any planning reforms it brings forward.
  4. Take urgent action to save our struggling seabirds 
    Our seabirds are really struggling because of the impacts of a changing climate, industrial fishing and large-scale development along our coasts and at sea. The new UK Government must urgently take action to fill the gaps in our network of marine protected areas and make sure they are well managed.
  5. Restore the UK as a nature leader on the global stage 
    It’s time for us to step up as world leaders on nature. The new Prime Minister should lead the way at vital UN climate and nature summits this year, giving a clear signal that the UK is determined to play its role in the recovery of our natural world.

Find out more about the top five actions the new UK Government needs to take for nature to recover and thrive here

We’re nearly halfway to 2030, but we still have a long way to go to reach the targets that have been set to help nature’s recovery and build resilience to climate change.  

As a new UK Government takes office, now is the perfect time to use your voice to send a message to MPs: nature must be a priority over the next five years.

A person marching with the RSPB, smiling and waving a flag

Want to learn more about how the RSPB campaigns and how you can get involved?

Read here:
  1. We campaign because they can't
  2. Take action for nature
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