Today I want to tell you a story of pain and suffering, but also one of hope and profound joy. At the end of each dark tunnel, there is sunshine. Various earth emotions and eco-ignorance can lead us to experience new emotional states.


It started slowly. First it was just rare moments when I realized that there were some areas of my life where I resisted going green. I procrastinated with making some changes to become more earth-friendly. I had reservations. For instance, I was reluctant to significantly reduce the number of flights that I took. And to give up using paper towels to clean up after my kids. I also found it difficult to stop taking the car when I was tired and alone with my three little boys. It was tempting to drive around so that they could quickly fall asleep.

In my correspondence with my blog subscribers, I openly talked about these reservations. I also talked about my fears. For instance that I would end up feeling maternal burnout if I needed to give up the habit of getting kids to sleep in the car. Or when abandoning the ease that paper towels provide for cleaning.😊 Thanks to sharing my reservations, I received encouragement from others. My green buddies reminded me to celebrate my other little eco-successes. With time, thanks to this support, I was able to significantly reduce many of my internal blockages.

Slips and secrecy

My green journey started with a one-year goal that I successfully accomplished, with some amendments. I hoped that after a year, my green changes would become habits. That they would be well embedded in my everyday life. My belief was also that by slowly and continuously introducing new green practices into my life, and by blogging about them, I would be able to stay on a sustainable living track.

To a certain degree this was true, but I started to slip back into my old comfort-based and eco-unfriendly ways more and more often. At first this mainly happened during vacation periods, but then the excuses multiplied like mushrooms after rain: new job, health issue, a family member who fell sick with COVID-19… At first, I embraced these slips with lots of self-love. I regarded them as normal well-deserved breaks. Or as human setbacks, and I reminded myself that my goal was progress and not perfection. However, it wasn’t long before these slips became the norm.

Secrecy and hiding kicked in. I started to increasingly feel that my ecological transition had failed. I did not want to speak about environmental issues anymore. Nor about my struggles and resistance to transition towards greener living in certain areas of my life.

Earth emotions: yearning for eco-ignorance

Then the longing for eco-ignorance set in. Yearning for the time when I and many around me were eco-illiterate, living happily with our eco-unconsciousness and eco-innocence. For the lost era of eco-naivete, where it felt good to travel by air every few months without feeling eco-guilt or eco-shame…

I love travelling and would love to visit many far-away places on this beautiful planet. Places that I have read or seen in photos and movies. Both my and my husband’s families also live far away. It thus became so clear for me that flying less was not easily compatible with my dreams and our current situation. And that deep inside – I did not want to give flying up.

This yearning for eco-ignorance was not the same as eco-aversion or eco-fatigue, which I talk about in my blog post on eco emotions. It was kind of a new earth emotion that I had not really felt before.

earth emotions: yearning for eco-ignorance

Eco-envy and non-eco-envy

My first reaction was to call this feeling eco-envy, as it often emerged when I heard that some friends were still rather often flying — seemingly guilt-free—which was not an option for me anymore. As much as I longed for eco-ignorance, I could not turn back time and enjoy that state any longer. And an important part of me did not really want to return to eco-blindness, knowing the state of affairs of our home planet.

Also, I still remembered the profound feelings of joy and pride that I experienced after adopting more eco-friendly habits. A certain holistic wellness that I attained only after incorporating environmental wellness into my life. I wrote about these positive feelings in my early blog posts on eco-friendly grocery shopping. And I also touched on this topic in my post on water recycling.

To see if others shared my sense of this feeling as eco-envy, I googled this term. I found that eco-envy is defined as “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s ecological advantages, carbon footprint, greenness, environmental friendliness, etc.” What I felt was more that it was a feeling of discontent related to another’s ecological disadvantages, their eco-ignorance. As the opposite, shall I call this non-eco-envy?


Not finding a good term to name my melancholic and nostalgic feelings certainly did not help. Tony Schwartz, in his New York Times article “The Importance of Naming Your Emotions,” writes that

“Noticing and naming emotions gives us the chance to take a step back and make choices about what to do with them. Emotions are just a form of energy, forever seeking expression. Paradoxically, sharing what we’re feeling in simple terms helps us to better contain and manage even the most difficult emotions. By naming them out loud, we are effectively taking responsibility for them, making it less likely that they will spill out at the expense of others over the course of a day.”

Well, in my case, the feeling I felt stuck with did not spill out at first. Rather, this feeling turned inward and grew into a much stronger yearning than my initial longing. It intensified into a full-blown graving that sought an immediate fix at any cost. The internal tension just kept rising. And finally it did spill out—at the expense of our beautiful planet.

Relapse and escaping the eco-era

Far from indulging in occasional slips back into my old comfort-based ways, I had a full relapse into eco-ignorance. Even the green habits that I had felt were strongly rooted in my daily life, like using shower buckets to recycle water and stopping water when putting on soap, started to disappear. The worst changes occurred with flying. While over the last three years I had made great progress in opting for more road trips, this summer felt like binging with air travel. It was like I wanted to compensate in secrecy for the restraint of my last few years. And part of my brain was telling me that anyhow, it did not matter to try to be eco-friendly with small things. Not when with my flying carbon footprint, I wiped out all that progress. I was like an ostrich burying her head in the sand.

I tried to wallow in eco-ignorance, to escape the eco-era and avoid awareness of the planet in pain. Yet of course I failed. And instead of enjoying eco-innocence, I found myself filled with eco-guilt and eco-shame. Feeling even worse than I had before starting my green journey. I barely told any friends that I travelled. When my husband wanted to post some travel pictures on social media, I was very reluctant due to my shame—far from the glorious times when each little trip got the spotlight on the social media.

Earth emotions: yearning for eco-ignorance


How to bounce back after relapse on eco-ignorance? My inner pain got so strong that I needed to do something. I tried various things. Below are some actions that I found most helpful for recovering from my eco-relapse:

Acceptance and honesty. I did not start to feel better and to practice a green lifestyle again until I accepted the situation how it was: that I had some unresolved reservations and lacked willingness to live a life that was truly respectful towards the environment. I had wanted so strongly to overcome all my reservations, and I hoped that I had done so. Yet I was wrong, and as I kept lying to myself, I also eroded my honesty with others due to my choice to isolate.

Earth emotions and eco-ignorance are important to be considered. The feelings we have in relation to our planet are as powerful and important as the emotions we have in relation to fellow humans. As Dr. Dan Siegel well noted, we have to try “to name it to tame it”. I have discovered ecopsychology, a rather recently established field that I believe can help people carry out ecological transitions more smoothly, perhaps with fewer relapses. Best Counselling Degrees website states that ecopsychology “strives to understand and harmonize people’s relationship with the Earth. Ecopsychologists examine the psychological processes that bond us with and alienate us from nature.”


The only way out is to be really honest with myself but also with others. Like Tony Schwartz says, to share what I feel, even when the emotion is unclear or not the one that I would like to feel.

Ask for help. I have realized the importance of humility and sharing my struggles with others. It is not really possible to go green well in isolation, I need to be regularly inspired, motivated, and encouraged. The old comfort-based ways are very hard to change. As I write on my Instagram profile, we all need companions to travel along with us on our going-green journey. Sometimes sustainable living can be a hard road less travelled.

Self-love. Today, I feel that I do not regret my relapse into non-eco-friendly actions. I feel grateful for this relapse, as it taught me a lot. For instance, I learned the importance of not only sharing the facts of my green journey, but also reflecting on my current earth emotions. And my struggles – one of the reasons that I first started this blog. I can approach my eco-relapse with gratitude because I believe that practicing integrity in relation to sustainable living requires us to be rooted in self-love and not beat ourselves up. Progress, not perfection.

Memory travel

My core reservation that I still have, and that seems to be very deeply rooted into my being, is my unwillingness to considerably reduce plane travel. My desire to discover and travel the world, the far-away exotic places, is so strong. One way that I have found (largely thanks to pandemic restrictions) to take a bit of the edge off of this burning desire is memory travel. I have been blessed to have visited more than seventy countries of this beautiful planet and lived in eight of them. Instead of kind of focusing on “consuming new countries”, I have decided to savour my past travels and to return to these incredible places I have been. You can read in my blog about my latest memory trips to the Russian Federation, including Chechenya, and to Turkmenistan.

Earth emotions: yearning for eco-ignorance


I have reconnected with the profound joy that I experienced when I started my green journey. This special feeling of serenity and happiness has deepened and taken on an additional dimension. Even when we think that we have failed and lost track of the positive habits we had established, we can always start over. The joy is always there; we just need to seek it. Often, after a tough time, we can expand our capacity to live in a more sustainable way—and also, to really appreciate and cherish moments of deep joy.

Each day is a new beginning

that entails a choice:

to wonder how we can make

our living more sustainable.

Or to say, no thanks,

my life is green enough.

What do you choose today?