In the depths of eco activist burn out
I have been quite silent of late and I am sure a few of my dedicated readers will have noticed. This last month I have broken my publishing record. In almost 4 years I have published an article each Monday without fail. It was dedication to the work of eco activism, and my dedication to this community that I made this commitment without fail. Until recently that is. So I wanted to write to you my readers and explain my silence of late.
There is no sugar coating it. I have been in the depth of eco activist burn out, and I had to step away from this work for a short time. It is perhaps fitting that the last article I published here was a guest post from a meditation centre, explaining the benefits of mindfulness for eco activists. I certainly needed to take some of that advice and take care of myself this last month.
My burn out was precipitated by my first experience of trolling of my blog. (I have been trolled before for my feminist activism, but never before for my writing with tortoise & lady grey) It all started when Alden Wicker, who writes a very popular sustainable fashion blog Ecocult, linked to my article on modal in her recent coverage of viscose and related fibres. She echoed my concerns about modal being a potential contributor to deforestation.
After this article was published, a someone using a false name started attacking my article, criticising Alden for not checking the validity of my article, and calling me a click-bait blogger who is only interested in making money. Alden & I have worked together through the Ethical Writers Coalition, and she trusted my work, but she contacted me to ask for more detail about my sources.
Now in the background I had actually been doing further research on modal, because a designer had asked for my sources on modal, and I found that some of my sources had disappeared from the web since I had written the original post two years ago. This is not uncommon as websites are regularly updated and restructured. I told this designer that I couldn’t find my original sources, but I was investigating the issue.
This particular ‘sustainable fashion designer’ had wanted to ‘collaborate’ with me, even though she questioned my article on modal. It was only when I sent her the rates I charge for writing about brands, that she went cold on our relationship. I can understand that many small brands don’t have much budget for marketing, but it is also true that I don’t have time to cover brands that contact me out of the blue. If I did this I would be working 50 hours a week on a blog that only managed to pay me for about half a days work each month!
If I am going to do unpaid writing work it will be articles that I feel driven to write, rather than spend all my time on unpaid marketing for brands that don’t respect my time or skills. Sadly, instead of respecting me and the work that I do, this particular designer decided to attack my character and integrity under a false name.
This trolling forced me to drop the other work on my plate to resolve my research on modal. I contact the Rainforest Action Network and Canopy, two very respected environmental NGOs whose mission is to fight against deforestation and other threats against global forests. They both confirmed is that modal is a serious concern, and despite the commonly held premise that modal is only made from beech trees, modal can also be made from rainforest pulp. RAN told me “Destructive plantations in Indonesia produce dissolving pulp, which is manufactured into all wood -based fabrics, including modal. Your piece mentions that only beechwood is used to produce modal — this is not accurate — rainforest pulp is also used. It’s impossible to separate modal from rayon and viscose when discussing it’s environmental and social impacts. ”
My original research on modal had been vindicated, and the only correction was that we need to be more concerned about modal than I originally thought.
The upside of this experience, is that I now have more clarity around this textile. I am actually more likely to avoid modal completely, and to recommend to my readers to do that same. I am sure this is the opposite of what my troll (who uses modal in her ‘sustainable fashion’ collections) was hoping to achieve.
This experience, and that fact that someone would jump straight to character assassination has left me burnt out and wearied by my long years as an advocate for sustainability in fashion and in our lifestyle choices. The fact that someone promoting their brand as ethical and sustainable would behave so unethically left me with little energy for writing about this sector.
It is only temporary however. I am going to take a break for the rest of this month, and begin writing again in August.
Just last week I connected with a beautiful soul- the owner of sustainable fashion boutique Amberoot who has the utmost respect for my writing and wants to pay me to write for her boutique’s blog. This was an important reminder that there are many talented, passionate and kindhearted people in this movement, and I should not let one bad experience overcome me!
So here is where I ask for your help. If you respect what I do, and want to help me restore my energy for this work, I would love you to assist in any small way you can.
- Leave a comment below to remind me that you are hear and that you care about my voice and the work that I am doing with tortoise & lady grey
- If you haven’t already, consider buying 6 Steps to a Sustainable Wardrobe so that I can receive a very small return for all the years of advocacy work I have put in, and to help sustain on this path for the long term
- Much of my writing time is fuelled by coffee at a local cafe. Would you consider becoming a Patron of my work and buying me just one coffee a month? Even a pledge as little at $1 a month shows your appreciation for the many hours of detailed research that goes into my writing. Your pledge, no matter how small, will help re-energise me for this work. I support other writers and creators that I care about for the same reason. Become a patron here.
- If you are looking for a beautiful new garment for your wardrobe, pop over to Amberoot. The owner’s appreciation for my work has been so important in restoring my faith in the sustainable fashion sector!