Ep 56. Having the courage to speak up and make a change with Zanna Van Dijk

May 7, 2019 | Anxiety, Blog, Podcast

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Extinction rebellion and David Attenborough have made climate change more and more in our minds, and alongside that, eco-anxiety is on the rise. 

This episode is about being brave enough to face things, to speak up about what we believe in (even in the face of criticism) and choosing action over anxiety. 

If you’re struggling with eco anxiety, I’m afraid this is not a podcast that is going to reassure you – but rather its a call to action for all of us to do what we can to change the situation. We can channel our anxiety into action and not just be paralysed by worry and feeling helpless.  It takes courage to face this and to start to question our behaviours – no one is doing this perfectly so it’s really important to be kind to ourselves and know that it’s not that we’ve been bad or done something wrong, but now is the time to educate ourselves and take action .

I talk to Zanna about:

-How to raise issues of the environment and having the courage to have difficult conversations (when maybe your friends and family don’t have the same views as you)
-What action can we take to change things
-Zanna shares a really interesting example of how she’s come under criticism and how she handles it

Get 20% off Sweaty Betty when you click here and enter the code calmeryou

Buy my new book Brave New Girl

Don’t forget you can get a free anxiety busting toolkit at calmer-you.com/free

Thanks so much for listening !


Chloe Brotheridge: So, hello and welcome to the Calmer You Podcast. This is your host Chloe Brotheridge. I’m a hypnotherapist and a coach and I’m the author of Anxiety’s Solution and the new book Brave New Girl and this is a Brave New Girl edition of the podcast and it’s all about helping you to become your calmest happiest and most confident courageous self. So, this week I’m talking to Zanna Van Dijk who is someone that I wanted to talk to for quite some time and we’ve seen a lot of stuff in the press recently with Extinction Rebellion and David Attenborough talking a lot about climate change and so it’s more and more at the front of our minds and I’m also hearing a lot about eco anxiety and how that is on the rise as well. This podcast is really about being brave enough to face the reality of things and to speak up about what we believe in even in the face of criticism and it’s really about how we can start to choose action over anxiety because so often we have a tendency to ruminate over things or get paralyzed by the enormity of an issue and we feel unable to actually do anything about it. This is really about how we can channel our care and our concern which is valid into the action to make a better change. If you are struggling with eco anxiety I’m afraid this podcast episode is not necessarily going to reassure you as such it’s not going to say to you, you know everything is going to be okay just relax don’t worry. I’m afraid that isn’t the case so if you really are struggling with eco anxiety it might be that listening to this isn’t the right thing for you right now. This is a call to action for all of us and it’s about what we can do to change the situation and how we can channel our anxiety into making a change not just getting paralyzed by fear and worry and feeling helpless.  It takes courage to face up to things and to question our own behaviours and some of the things that we discuss in this episode might feel quite confronting for you and I really encourage you just to listen with an open mind and know that it’s not about making any of us wrong because no one is doing this perfectly, no one is making no impact on the climate, we are all having an impact on the climate no matter how often we use a reusable coffee cup – so be very kind to yourself and this is just an invitation for all of us to educate ourselves so that we can take some action. So I talked to Zanna about how to raise issues about the environment with other people and having the courage to have those difficult conversations and actually this is applicable to any kind of difficult conversation that you might want to have with friends or family members that maybe don’t hold the same views as you and Zanna has had a lot of experience in doing this. We talk about what action, what specific action we can take to help our planet, to help the environment and Zanna also really bravely shares an interesting example of how she’s come under criticism and had dozens of really quite aggressive messages on her Instagram and how she has handled that and turned that around is a really beautiful example of how she did this. So don’t forget you can download a free anxiety busting tool kit at www.calmer-you.com/free and I love to hear what you think of this episode on Instagram. You can find me @ChloeBrotheridge so let’s get into the episode. This podcast is sponsored by Sweaty Betty. With beautiful and high performance acts of wear from bum sculpting leggings to supportive sports bars. Sweaty Betty has it covered for every single sport from the gym to the yoga studio to let’s face it relaxing, working from home you’ll often find me wearing my favorite athletes brand Sweaty Betty where bum sculpting leggings have become my new favourites. I have to say I feel really good in them. They’re just cut beautifully and best of all their leggings are built to last. They use high quality and durable fabrics. I actually have a pair of Sweaty Betty leggings from a couple of years ago that I still use and love. Sweat Betty are offering listeners twenty percent off when you enter the promo code calmeryou on their website so you can head over to SweatyBetty.com/podcast and enter the code calmer you that’s calmeryou and you get twenty percent off. Definitely check out their stuff and you’re going to love it.

Chloe Brotheridge: Welcome Zanna, thank you so much for joining me today.

Zanna Van Dijk: Thank you for having me.

Chloe Brotheridge: How are you?

Zanna Van Dijk: Oh, I’m very good, happy to be here.

Chloe Brotheridge: I’m really excited to speak to you. Can you tell us and the people who don’t know you, what you do and how you got to where you are today.

Zanna Van Dijk: Those are big questions and questions that I often find quite challenging to answer because my job is hard to define. I tend to say blog owner and business owner because I blog across different platforms and I own multiple businesses that tend to cover all the bases. I can go into more details on that later but in terms of how I got here, I qualified as an S L T a Speech Linguist Therapist 5 years ago. So, I did a 4 year degree in Speech Science. Two years into that degree I started my ‘fitness blog’. It was on social media platforms and then when I left university I created an actual concrete blog and then I started blogging as a career about a year later when I started to realize that it could be a career. But back then when I first started like 7 years ago it definitely wasn’t something I saw as being a career. I am somebody who’s always been online. I was blogging from the age of 15 so I did a fashion blog for a couple years, beauty blog for a couple of years not ever for money or anything. Basically because I just enjoyed it. I’ve always been an online person. I used to code web pages, I used to do online graphic design. I used to be a gamer. The Internet was my happy place for most of my teenage years so even when I started speech therapy and I got into science I always saw the Internet as where I went for my fun so it’s amazing that now online is my job and being a social media creator and owning online businesses is what I do, so kind of like I found my destiny.

Chloe Brotheridge: It’s amazing that at such a young age that you were so Entrepreneurial and just trying things.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, even when I was 15 there was this platform called Bebo, a social media platform, and my friends used to pay me to make them banners for their profiles and stuff. I’d do graphic design for the Bebo profiles on paint. It’s crazy, I’m like such a little online nerd.

Chloe Brotheridge: You’re a trailblazer from an early age basically.

Zanna Van Dijk: You could say that or you could just say somebody with too much time on their hands.

Chloe Brotheridge: Amazing. One of the things I really wanted to talk about to you is your work with activism. Talking about the environment you know it’s something that I hear all the time from people that it’s a source of anxiety and also it’s something they want to do something about.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yes

Chloe Brotheridge: I get questions from people feeling that they feel very alone with it because they they’re worried about it but want to make a change but maybe their family or friends don’t. Can you just start off by telling us how you got interested in your work in environmental?

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, that’s such a valid question with all those subjects I feel like I felt the same so we can definitely talk about this. In terms of how I got into it, it actually started when I watched this documentary called Before the Flood. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. Leonardo DiCaprio presented it and I watched that and I was like wow we got a bit of a bleak future ahead and in that moment I thought I’m going to start making some changes so off the back of that documentary I stopped eating red meat and I remember saying on to my social media I’m just going to stop eating red meat don’t worry I’ll never be a vegetarian, I’ll never be vegan. Well, here I am two years later a vegan. So, I kind of just did that for the planet. Then I thought I was doing nothing and I could do something by being plant based because I just thought like that was the only thing you could do for the planet. Little did I know there’s like a gazillion things you could do for the planet and I started to learn those over the course of the next few years. I got a little bit obsessive about learning about it. This is a sort of person that I am that when I get into just doing something I just delve deep into it and I started subscribing to environmental newsletters. I was in the Guardian environmental pages every single day and I just realized I’m feeling a little bit scared about this whole scenario so I’d like to try and use my platform for good and to raise awareness so I started gently drip dropping little environmental nuggets into my social media and it went down really well so now probably about one-third of my content is environmental content which is a huge proportion of what I do so yeah I’m really, really passionate about it.

Chloe Brotheridge: It’s amazing and I’m curious what happened when you made that transition and started talking about that more. How do people respond to that? I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life and I don’t judge other people for eating other things. I really don’t care, I don’t try to persuade people to be a vegetarian but I often find that people I don’t know a bit funny about the whole topic.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, you know I had two different experiences. My online experience was better than my in person experience because online people are just happy to see me using my platform for good and they’re like oh I’ve never thought about that. I’ve never heard about that. It’s amazing that you are talking about these subjects. I started talking about it maybe three years ago which is before the big hype right now, The Blue Planet effect, which people were just excited that I was talking about it but then in person it was definitely a different story. My mom was like when is this phase going to end and my boyfriend was like oh so you’re not eating meat now. My friends, I could tell, kind of felt a bit on edge like do you mind if I eat meat in front of you. Do you mind if I do this, or don’t judge me because I’ve got a take away coffee. I kind of felt like people really thought I was judging them in person and in reality I might think in my head oh I wish you’d not use a throw away coffee cup. But I’m never going to say anything. I’m never going to pass judgment on you and say something. So, yeah online was fine, in person I felt like people were a little bit worried but now that I’ve been doing it for four years since I started really caring about the planet people in person don’t really care and they know that I’m not going to do this, I’m not going to pass judgement so yeah, it’s been interesting Actually, online is where it’s got worse and in person it’s got better. So it’s been like two different trajectories. Online even though now I’m doing more than I’ve ever done for the planet the expectations are higher on me because I’ve been talking about it for a while so there’s a lot of well you’re not doing enough. Well, you have to quit because you still do this and what frustrates me about this is if I was a blogger who was a fast fashion blogger who ate beef at every meal, have a disposable carton for every meal, nobody would say anything because that’s all I’ve ever done. But because now I can, I’ve made changes and people are like why haven’t you my made this change? I think wait a second why am I the one who is getting called out and there’s people who are doing nothing and nobody says anything. I kind of feel like some things are better than nothing at least I’m making a positive change. It’s about something which I’ve definitely struggled with over the past maybe 18 months. People saying it’s not enough and I kind of feel like that attitude of saying it’s not enough is going to put off people who haven’t done anything. You have to stop demonizing people who are trying to do some things good even if they’re not perfect because otherwise people who haven’t done anything to try and support the planet and are going to do anything because they’re scared of criticism. So I think let me be real. 90 percent of the comments I get are supportive, 95 percent are supportive enough but there’s still 5 percent who ask why haven’t you done this, why haven’t you done that. So, that’s why I currently find it to be a struggle with talking about the planet but I know, I know that I am doing more than the vast majority of the population so I know in myself I’m happy with what I’m doing and it’s just a case of realizing I’m never going to please everybody and I try and take on board any criticism people have if it’s constructive and they say it nicely. Then I’ll listen. But if you make forty new accounts just to leave more hate comments because I’ve blocked you and then leave me capital letters telling me that I’m a liar and a hypocrite which happened last week. I’ve actually woke up every single morning to like between thirty and forty new comments from this account. I was like wow you’re really not making me change my attitude just making me more annoyed at you.

Chloe Brotheridge: It’s crazy, it’s really crazy.

Zanna Van Dijk: There’s a way of suggesting people can improve and that wasn’t the way to do it.

And I think it’s so much about the perfectionism thing and expectations we put on people. In a sense it’s impossible to perfectly support the environment. Everything that we buy, everything really you can  trace it back sadly and find there’s some horrible story about having made it in another country and people are getting exploited. Even our smart phones, I was reading an article yesterday which was saying data centers which hold the data that’s in our phone are set to overtake the transportation system in terms of the energy usage because we are using so much data and so much energy storing our data. Nobody thinks about that. They’re like oh well why are you still driving a car, why are you doing this, why are you doing that. I’m like you’re using a smartphone mate you’re still contributing, we’re all contributing every second of every day every action we take is contributing and I don’t see that as a scary thing I see it as a positive thing that we can control our actions. We are all having an impact and nobody’s perfect. It’s tough to invest in the best that we can.

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, absolutely, I think, I think about being a bit kinder to each other. If we must call each other out on things or criticize do it in kinder way and remember that we’re not perfect. You know if you are Vegan you might drive a dirty car or something, there’s always going to be something. We shouldn’t judge each other anyway but we definitely shouldn’t judge each other about these sorts of things.

Zanna Van Dijk: Exactly.

Chloe Brotheridge: Because it can almost become so overwhelming you just think oh I’m not going to bother that’s too much we’ll just bury our heads in the sand.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, you get paralyzed into inaction that’s the thing like there’s two ways it can go so you might watch this documentary called Cowspiracy which talks about the planet and you can either watch it and go holy moly I need to change my lifestyle or you can go that’s too much we’re doomed anyway I’m not going to do anything. I kind of feel like we need to choose the former option of those two because if we choose the latter nothing’s going to change and we kind of need really urgent change in the next 12 years so we all need to get on board in some way.

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, definitely and you know I think it takes courage to face up to these things and we can do it but we do need to perhaps go through the discomfort of actually realizing that maybe our addiction to fast fashion needs to change.  Definitely needs to change. Or the fact that we are always buying things in the plastic tubes and all these things and I’m sure there are people listening that are feeling that defensiveness rise up because none of us really wants to be wrong. It’s hard to face up to that and I know exactly what that feels like when I’m criticized. I get that we all do but just for people listening just be curious about this and have an open mind and don’t judge yourself or make yourself wrong but just start to educate yourself.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, I think we should see it as an inquisitive thing to question whether what we’ve been told is true is actually true. I was doing a talk the other day and I said for me eating a more plant based diet was the first step of me questioning what I’ve been told to believe because I’d always been told that we had to eat meat to get protein and we had to eat meat to be healthy and when I realized that we didn’t have to do that I was like wow what other things have I been told that I don’t quite believe. Once you start doing that you stop seeing it as a criticism of your lifestyle, you start seeing it as a questioning of what we’ve been told in the condition that we’ve been given. It’s not about being wrong, you’ve just been raised to believe a certain thing or do a certain thing and we’ve never been told to question these things. So, don’t criticize yourself for doing something which you want to now change. It’s a case of learning about whether or not my lifestyle is in line with my beliefs and my morality. I’m not a bad person because I’ve been living this way but I’m somebody who is open to learning and open to change so let’s start that journey.

Chloe Brotheridge: Definitely, so being open to it but not, not beating ourselves up over things.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, yeah

Chloe Brotheridge: One of the messages I hope people take away from this episode is that we can take our anxiety about it and we can turn that into some action. And as women we tend to ruminate over things and not take action. And the fear of making a wrong choice or a fear of what other people might think. Actually just taking a bit of action will alleviate some of the anxiety because we know we’re part of the change.

Zanna Van Dijk: Exactly and I think there is a lot of anxiety, there is a lot of fear and it’s very natural to feel a little bit terrified when you start learning about climate change and the trajectory that we’re currently on but I think we can turn that fear into positive action and we shouldn’t be afraid of being afraid because I think that fear is your motivation that is your push to do positive actions and to talk to other people and to spread the message so embrace the fear and use it for good.

Chloe Brotheridge: The idea of not being afraid to be afraid because I think we often we don’t want to feel whatever we’re feeling so we numb ourselves, we escape, we watch Netflix so that we don’t have to think about things. But actually allowing ourselves to feel the feelings. It’s completely natural to feel that way it’s natural to feel scared. I think we’re so disconnected from the natural world and we know what’s happening, even subconsciously we know that disconnection and the fact that we’re not treating our home right and that’s going to create a subtle underlying anxiety. We need to listen to that and actually we need to listen and take action. Do you experience eco anxiety?

Zanna Van Dijk: This weekend I experienced eco anxiety. I tend to.  I self-regulate because I know that I can get very overwhelmed by the situation that we’re in and I’ve kind of drowned myself in information about climate change over the past few years and there’s been times when every single day I was reading the environmental pages of the newspaper and I was subscribing to newsletters and I was learning about this and learning about that and I was like oh my God every single day I’m being bombarded with this information about the state of our planet and it’s very overwhelming and in those periods I definitely experienced eco anxiety. This past weekend I watched a documentary called Climate Change and I watched a documentary called Our Planet and I also started a new book called the Inhabitable Earth. That is a lot to do in one weekend and by the end of the weekend last night Sunday night I was like wow I feel really scared for the future of humanity. I don’t often give myself that much exposure to everything that’s happening because I don’t need that much to be motivated to change. If you’re somebody who isn’t motivated at all to change, go on read the articles get the fear and use it for good. If you’re somebody who’s already making changes don’t overwhelm yourself every single day just because you want to learn more because you’re literally going to paralyze yourself into inaction. You’d be so scared that you do nothing. So just get a little dose every now and then of what you need to know to have the knowledge of what’s currently happening and to keep yourself motivated but not to scare yourself into inaction for sure.

Chloe Brotheridge: Okay, okay, that’s such good advice. Yeah, there’s actually two thousand people listening people that have eco anxiety and most want to be reassured. I don’t know if we can really reassure ourselves but it’s about what can we do. For people that maybe aren’t even thinking about it that much or have buried their heads in the sand and actually this is not going to make you anxious, perhaps just take this as an invitation to start to look into that a bit more.

Zanna Van Dijk: If you are listening to this and you don’t really care about the planet please just get involved please. We got a pretty dire situation on our hands so I’d really appreciate it if you could just read a few articles and open your eyes and not allow yourself to sit in a state of blissful ignorance because we can’t be affording to do that anymore. We have like 12 years to really make a rapid turnaround and every single one of us needs to be in the same boat so please hop in that boat with me.

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, yeah and I suspect most of the people listening with anxiety tend to be sensitive, sensitive souls and probably are quite aware of this sort of thing anyway and we can use that sensitivity but we’re often called snowflakes in the millennial generation. That sensitivity can be useful because actually we’re the ones that are going to use our care to change things and make the world better.

Zanna Van Dijk: Exactly

Chloe Brotheridge: So, we can be strong snowflakes I think.

Zanna Van Dijk: I like that.

Chloe Brotheridge: Just in terms of veganism. I read a stat recently I think is in the Guardian that 51 percent of greenhouse emissions come from meat and dairy industries. Quite shocking. I think people don’t realize that. I think the majority of people don’t think that’s like cars and planes.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah

Chloe Brotheridge: But in reality, I know agriculture is a huge huge, huge contributing factor to climate change and the thing is it goes far beyond emissions. The reason why I personally believe I know agriculture is the biggest challenge that our current population is facing along with fossil fuels is the fact that it has so many other impacts beyond emissions. So, your 91 percent of Amazon rain forest deforestation has come from cattle. So, 91 percent of what’s been chopped down of the Amazon rainforest is due to agriculture just let that sink in 91 percent, that’s a lot and then also it pollutes waterways that leads to desertification of land after it’s been grazed on.

Zanna Van Dijk: Well, let’s talk about cows farting. I mean sounds like a joke but it actually it must be said.

Chloe Brotheridge: They release methane which is common. It is atleast four if not more times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of its impact as a greenhouse gas and the warming effects on the planet. So, there’s also problems with like the huge quantities of wastes that are produced by the animals which we raise for meat and that has nowhere to go so it ends up going on to the lands surrounding people. I was reading a book recently really, really good book I actually recommend it. It’s called Farmageddon and it talks about the impacts on local people’s lives who live near different kinds of industrial farming. It’s not just about animal sufferings. If you’re not really into animals that might not make a connection for you but if you’re a humanitarian and you care about human rights there’s so many impacts of animal agriculture on humans that are actually really, really detrimental and we don’t ever realize it. In those areas in South America where they do all the anchovies farming, for example, they basically fish millions and millions of anchovies which is then ground up into meal which is fed to cattle and these people are not eating any fish because all of that food source has been exported away from them and they literally have no food left for themselves and they are getting malnourished and developing different diseases. Why is nobody talking about this? Nobody is talking about this. It’s like the cloth has been pulled over our eyes and nobody is questioning where this meat comes from. I don’t know but animal agriculture is something which also I think we can see is an empowering saying because it’s something which we can change three times a day right so yeah you can change your energy supply to be a renewable energy supply, please do that, but that’s one change that you make okay that’s one change but what you eat every single day is something you should do a minimum of three times a day. If you’re like me like six times a day so what you’re eating every day is an action that you can take towards positive change. If you can eat less meat and eat more plants you’re literally acting towards supporting the planet which I think is an awesome empowering thing to do.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, absolutely. It’s interesting isn’t it because it’s so disconnected from actually where our food comes from which is say milk in the supermarket with pictures of happy cows and we’re just really disconnected from that and I think if we knew more about where food came from we’ll make very different decisions.

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, it’s like every single thing that is in that supermarket has a whole chain reaction which has led to it being there and as you said there’s a whole disconnection of how plants are grown. My dad is a farmer he grows plants. I did a little tour a few months back of his little greenhouse and garden patch. I saw how broccoli grows and how butternut squash grows and what asparagus looks like when it comes out the ground and people were messaging me like I have never seen a broccoli plant in my life. I didn’t know that that is what a broccoli plant looked like. There is such a disconnection, the more that we can connect with everything that we’re consuming and where it comes from the more conscious we’ll be with our consumption for sure.

Zanna Van Dijk: It’s interesting, I went to a talk recently about nature relatedness. Have you heard those terms before? Basically means how much we feel that we are a part of nature and the more connected to nature we are the more we remember we are actually human beings, we are animals, we come from nature. We think of ourselves as separate but the more we can accept that and recognize that the happier we are and the calmer we are and so it has all these benefits to our mental health. To reconnect to the fact that we’re part of nature so you know doing this work to educate ourselves can have that benefit as well when we remember.

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, I think that it’s very easy to become disconnected from nature nowadays especially those of us who live in London, in this little box. I can see some trees outside my window but that’s about it you know I mean the rest of my life is like concrete so you forget the fact that where we are right now, this used to be forest, this used to be land which was farmed or something and now it’s just concrete jungle so I think we definitely need to reconnect ourselves in nature. I actually talk a lot on my social media about green space because I think every single day I get at least 10 to 30 minutes of green space where I’ll just sit in the park or walk in the park or just look at a blossom anything because otherwise you get lost in this crazy London city life and you forget that we are an animal. I think we have a superiority complex like we are better than everything else. I mean we are pretty awesome but we are animals and we have to take responsibility for our actions and the planet has given so much to us. It has given us life and I think the way that I see it being environmentally friendly or trying to be a little bit more eco conscious is paying rent right. We are given this life to live. We get to live on this planet for free. Why can’t we pay rent by trying to be a little bit more conscious and look after our home. I pay rent for this flat. I should pay rent to the planet by being a little bit more conscious of how I live and consume.

Zanna Van Dijk: I love that idea because I think we’re in the mindset of just what can we take.

Chloe Brotheridge: So, what do you think of Extinction Rebellion?

Zanna Van Dijk: You know what, I think they’re great. I think a lot people hate extinction rebellion but I actually went to one of their protests in London. I went to one in Oxford Circus only for an hour because I was really busy working that week but I popped along had a little dance and some good vibes. Tried to serve the planet with some nice beautiful people but I feel like yes I disrupted travels, I disrupted Londoners but let’s be real what’s happening to the planet is going to be much more disruptive than a few people being late for work so I think what they’re doing is amazing. It’s raised consciousness its raised awareness, it’s got people in the news talking about climate change and that was the impact that they wanted and they’ve achieved that so I’m a big fan

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, yeah, me too, me too. I first heard of them only a few months ago. It just exploded. I really like such a new organization.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, yeah they’ve done a lot and were in the newspapers every day. It’s raised people’s awareness and I’m sure I read something yesterday about how people are Googling climate change. There’s been a massive spike in the number of people that are just looking into that so that’s a positive thing

Chloe Brotheridge: There’s also Greta Thunberg.

Zanna Van Dijk: Oh my gosh!

Chloe Brotheridge: What an amazing girl she is doing awesome things! You know we’re are in a tricky situation when children are acting like leaders and leaders are acting like children and it just made me realize she is literally being a leader. That generation are the ones who are going to suffer for our choices and she’s just like I’m not going to take this and she’s fighting back and good on her because people listen to children. Yeah it was like a 28 year old Londoner was opinionated but when a child stands up for what they believe in and they missed school and they do a protest it’s damn this is a serious situation. So I’m a huge fan of what she’s doing. She’s an awesome little girl and she’s changing the world but what a legacy she’s going to have.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, yeah she’s amazing. Yet she’s come under horrible criticism and death threats. Yes, death threats to her family, people talking about her privileged background doesn’t give her a position to speak. It’s terrible.

Zanna Van Dijk: I’m rooting for her as well

Chloe Brotheridge: There was a bit of artwork that Banksy did in Marble Arch where Extinction Rebellion were having their protest there’s an image and he’s written a quote from this moment where despair ends and tactics begin and that was just a good message.

Zanna Van Dijk: I like that, I like that because we need to I know this is a podcast about anxiety and I don’t want you guys to feel too anxious but as we said use the energy for good and we need to talk tactics and we need to talk change. We can’t just sit here and be quivering in our beds we need to be actually doing some things so I really, really like that part.

Chloe Brotheridge: Absolutely. What can we do? Can we talk about what we can actually do.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, of course we can.

Chloe Brotheridge: I know one thing that I have been a part of your Facebook group for quite a while and you had twelve thousand people there.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, it’s actually thirty thousand now.

Chloe Brotheridge: And it’s a living consciously crew on Facebook.

Zanna Van Dijk: Feel free to come and join. That is my little baby that group. It’s basically like a judgment free place to go and talk about living a more conscious lifestyle and if you’re somebody who literally hasn’t even dipped their toe into the living consciously world that is a great place for you to go because it’s judgment free. Nobody’s going to criticize you for what you’re doing, nobody is going to judge you, nobody’s going to shame me for not doing enough. It’s such a supportive network of people and I moderate it so if you see any nastiness just tell me but I haven’t seen anything in six months. It’s all just been so lovely and positive in there so if you’re somebody who wants to know more about how to live more eco friendly that’s a great place to stop. But in terms of my personal tips I mean there’s so many things but I think the main thing, number one, educate yourself about what’s going on. I have a resources page on my website zannavandijk/uk.com resources that has all the books, articles and documentaries I’ve read and watched which I think are really informative and educational. I think it is a great place to stop. The second thing is to talk about it and I think you have to raise awareness of other people. You have so much impact because if you start talking about reducing plastic usage in your office you have ten people in your desk and they all get a reusable coffee cup and if they use a single use coffee cup every single day of the year you’ve saved thousands of coffee cups just by you talking to your deskmates about re-usable coffee cups. So don’t think that you don’t have an impact because every single person can have such a huge ripple effect. So, the next thing is to talk about the environment and talk about the changes that you’re making. Changes to make I mean there’s a lot, there’s things like reducing plastic usage, eating more plants, eating less meat, looking for a new global energy in reducing travel in terms of public transport rather than just driving your car on your own etc. etc. There’s a million and one things to do in terms of that so I might not be able to delve into all of that. The next thing, the final most important thing is to get involved in political change so sign petitions when you see them on Facebook. If your friend shares a petition about the kind of climate emergency that’s a conversation that’s going around sign it just sign. It takes two minutes of your time but that petition could lead to a policy change so get involved in that. If you see an Extinction Rebellion protest go along to it. I know it sounds scary to be a part of something like that but ultimately individual action is important but political change is what’s going to save the world so we need to be a supporter of political change. If your local M.P. says we’re going to bring in this new recycling scheme support that like any political change support that because when we want something they listen so when we the individuals who live in the U.K. are all starting to get more #woke and we want things to happen for positive change politicians will listen, but if we don’t show them that we care they are not going to change.

Chloe Brotheridge: I think that’s such an important point because yes we can stop using coffee cups but actually it’s going to come from the highest levels for real change in terms of our governments. Up until now things haven’t been popular enough with people in order for the governments to risk coming out and saying they are going to do this because it’s all about what is going to get them elected.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, if we start talking about single use plastic policies that start happening and that’s because of one T.V. series and that’s because the general consensus and consciousness in the U.K. changed and people demanded change. It just shows that when we want things and we share that we want change and we talk about it on social media, we talk about it with our friends, we demand changes in our workplace, then people high up in the system will listen but we have to demand change or it’s not going to happen.

Chloe Brotheridge: But one of the questions that came in before recording this was around how to talk about things without not knowing how to deal with what other people are going to think when you start talking about that and the kind of the criticism or the arguments people can expect. People pleasers don’t want to upset other people, they don’t want to get into debates because that’s maybe something that scares us. So, how do we have this conversations or is about leading by example do you think?

Zanna Van Dijk: That is the most important thing, leading by example, and I’m saying for me in my personal life I have never preached to any of my friends. I’ve never sat down at a dinner party with my friends who consume a lot of animal products and said you shouldn’t be eating that. I’ve just said when I go to a dinner party hey you think you can have a vegan option available for me? That would be great. Then they will try the vegan option and they’re like wow that’s delicious and they say why are you eating this then they ask the questions rather than me forcing my opinion. They say oh why are you doing that and then I usually say do you really want to know and then when they say yeah I really want to know then I tell them why. But it’s more a good thing to lead by example and allow people to ask you why you’re doing what you’re doing rather than forcing it upon them. You say hey, look I’m happy, I’m healthy I’m living my best life. I’m also saving the planet over here why don’t you join me. I think that’s the best way to do it rather than forcing it down people’s throats although if you do want to go to a protest that would be a good thing to do.

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, yeah, definitely, yeah I didn’t make it to the Extinction Rebellion one since I was away but I gave them money to help bail people out of jail.

Zanna Van Dijk: I always do that if you can’t make it to the protest.

Chloe Brotheridge: Cheeky donation.

Zanna Van Dijk: Okay, so leading by example and just you know people are going to be naturally curious. Aww, where did you get that coffee cup from or they see vegan and decide to try some and then you can, if they are curious, share things, but I think vegans have come and got kind of bad reputation for being preachy but actually a lot of them aren’t. The vast majority I would say aren’t but as I guess that no one wants to be preached at, no one wants to be criticized.

Chloe Brotheridge: You’re literally calling into question their life choices like that is not a fun thing to happen.

Zanna Van Dijk: So, people don’t want to be critized. Lead by example and just well, if somebody asks why do you got rid of your coffee cup don’t be like well did you know that the world is falling apart as a result of single use coffee cups. Say I found a really interesting article about this and I didn’t even realize that actually re-usable coffee, single use coffee cups can’t be recycled because of the plastic lining. Did you even know? Make it sound interesting rather than being critical. I think that’s the thing. If you share as if it’s a new interesting piece of knowledge not everyone knew before then people are learning with you. That feels much more empowering than being criticized.

Chloe Brotheridge: Definitely, definitely. I spoke to a friend who is a lecturer at Queen Mary University, Dr Emily Lines. She basically lectures on environmental things.

Zanna Van Dijk: But, she is much more qualified than I am.

Chloe Brotheridge: Well, we were on holiday together recently in America and I was trying to get her to reassure me that it was all going to be okay and she was like no I can’t really assure you this because this is what you can do and a lot of other things we’ve mentioned but she mentioned how important it is for us to try and preserve the rainforest that we have rather than planting more trees. I mean we should plant more trees but the rain forests are much better at absorbing carbon than a kind of a baby tree would be.

Zanna Van Dijk: And also the biodiversity that exists in rain forests is the most bio diverse area in the world so when we lose rain forest we lose thousands of species that go extinct so it’s not even just the carbon absorption it’s also just the biodiversity.

Chloe Brotheridge: I completely agree.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, yeah, so if people want to give some money to offset their flight or something, give to preserving the rainforest.

Chloe Brotheridge: Okay, is that what we need to recommend?

Zanna Van Dijk: Rainforest Lives are great .

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, yeah

Zanna Van Dijk: They do have some stuff for conserving rain forests.

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, okay that’s the main thing. I’m so grateful for everything you’re doing and for sharing this and being brave enough to, to do it so publicly and inspiring people. I think this is really helpful.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yes, it’s terrifying when there’s like twenty people just watching and waiting for you to do something wrong. So, I actually do the post of the day. Did you see my post about flying? 

Chloe Brotheridge: Yes, yes

Zanna Van Dijk: That was a long time overdue it was like a big elephant in the room. I kept getting messages about that. That’s what was what I was going on about recently because obviously as part of my job I am a travel blogger I’m a fitness and travel blogger I travel. I travelled to do a swimwear shoot for my swimwear brand it’s called Stay Wild Swim. It’s made of recycled ocean plastic so it’s made from mostly fishing nets and we turn that into swimwear.

Chloe Brotheridge: That’s beautiful.

Zanna Van Dijk: Thank you. I’m super super proud of it so we went to shoot that swimwear in the Maldives. We went there for multiple reasons. Number one I needed to get back from Maldives because I recently had a traumatic life experience in the Maldives and I needed to go back and make peace with that because it was scary last time I was there. It’s an amazing place. I almost died and then also my friend Natalie has never been to the Maldives. I knew a hotel there I was friends with them. I kind of just felt like a logical thing to do for us to go and shoot the swimwear collection there. Anyway, I got so much criticism for going people were like why are you flying to the Maldives. It’s so bad for the planet this and that and I was kind of like I am not perfect, I am not perfect and I know flying isn’t great but I try and offset that trip into the Maldives by doing twenty billion other things that I try and to do to support the planet and as we’re saying at the start of the podcast if people jump on me and criticize me for flying to the Maldives to shoot my sustainable swimwear brand and actually I had meetings with the hotel about how they could be more eco friendly. I was talking to them about how they can switch their sun cream to be a reef safe sun cream. What products they should be using in their bathroom so that people can go into the water after using the shower gel etc. If you don’t know, if you go into the ocean with a regular sun cream that can actually damage the coral reefs so it’s about educating the hotels about the fact that they need to make sure people are using reef safe sun cream etc. So, we will have a positive impact while we’re out there but I still got so much criticism for going and it just kind of made me realize that I’m never going to please everyone even if I am trying my damn hardest to have a positive impact and that every time I travel I do it with a purpose and help the hotel or raise awareness of some sort of issue while I’m there. I’m never going to please people so that has been a recent challenge that I’ve had.

Chloe Brotheridge: I saw that post and I thought that was just a really beautiful example of being open about something and addressing criticism in a very honest way. You bravely just share your truth and I thought that was a great example of doing that.  You weren’t being defensive about it you weren’t, arguing back it was just you know honest.

Zanna Van Dijk: I just state the facts.

Chloe Brotheridge: Good post. 

Zanna Van Dijk: Thanks, you know I thought I was going to get a lot more hate on that post. I maybe got two hate comments and about six hundred nice ones so I think I’ve done the right thing here by talking about this because I felt like I’d avoid it for so long for fear of being attacked. So, I was really, really glad that I spoke about it but yeah I just kind of feel like if you are going to put down somebody do it nicely because I had a few people D.M. me and say hey, I’m just wondering why you flew to the Maldives to shoot your swimwear collection there. I was like hey, these are my reasons why but if you go and leave a whole comment on my social media I’m not going to respond to you I’m going to feel defensive. So, it’s just a way of approaching people and trying to influence them to do something more positive or to think about their actions on that.

Chloe Brotheridge: Yeah, yeah I’m being curious again while they’re making an assumption about someone else.

Zanna Van Dijk: Actually, we don’t know the whole story of what’s going on.

Chloe Brotheridge: Exactly. So, be curious and no one is doing this perfectly and if we silence the people that are doing it imperfectly no one’s going to know how many voices are talking about the things that are important.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, it made me scared it made me literally scared to talk about sustainability because every time I did I got called out about flying and I was like this is not a healthy situation because I have a platform here and people are waiting for me to talk about this subject and I feel scared to talk about it. So that’s why I did the post because I was like I don’t want to be held back by criticism when I’m doing more than most so yeah and I didn’t feel any guilt in myself. I knew that I was doing my best but I knew that judgment was there I needed to address it.

Chloe Brotheridge: Well, I hope that this podcast is actually empowering for people. I know that as you said it’s hard for people with anxiety but don’t feel anxious feel empowered. Feel like you have the impact, you have the power to literally create so much change and to impact so many people. The example that I gave with the coffee cup can have such a ripple effect on the people around you and every single person who takes positive action is supporting change to support our planet so just get involved.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, definitely and you know this book is also about being brave and facing up to things and that sort of thing so you know I think all of this is really relevant so thank you.

Chloe Brotheridge: Where can people find out more about you and what you’re doing and what projects you’re working on at the moment.

Zanna Van Dijk: You can find me on social media at zannavandijk so Zanna Van Dijk. People seem to really struggle with my name. I’ve got YouTube, I’ve got Instagram, I’ve got Twitter, I’ve got Facebook, I’ve got a blog, I’ve got a newsletter and then also my swimwear company it’s called Stay Wild Swim so at staywildswim and yeah we do a lot of content on my Stay Wild Swim website which is about living more sustainably and so you can definitely check out that blog and that has like another twenty or thirty articles about different swaps you can make in different days of your life. That’s a great place to get information and finally the living consciously crew on Facebook come and join it’s a lovely community, everybody is so kind, so supportive and not judgemental at all. So, you’ll get all the support that you need to try and live a little bit more eco friendly.

Chloe Brotheridge: Oh yeah join the Facebook group. Just really good tips on everything. Like the best shampoo bar and just really practical things that we can all be getting involved in.

Zanna Van Dijk: Yeah, like which energy provider can I go to? How do I get out of my current energy provider if I’m locked in and like all that sorts of stuff like people literally share so much information there it’s amazing.

Chloe Brotheridge: Brilliant, thank you so much for talking to me .

Zanna Van Dijk: Many thanks for having me. Hope you all enjoyed it.

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