An Earth Day suggestion to treat ‘eco-anxiety’

Who: Earth Day Canada, with Sid Lee for creative and strategy, L’Éloi for production, audio by Cult Nation Studios, and Chop Chop Films for post-production.

What: “Remedy Together,” the 2022 awareness campaign for the environmental charity, which asked Canadians to “call in sick” on Earth Day if they were suffering from “eco-anxiety.”

When & Where: The campaign kicked off on April 7 with paid media running on TV, radio and digital. It’s also running in France and Brazil.

Why: The insight underlying this year’s campaign is that people are so worried about the environment they are getting ill, and one of ways to treat their illness is to take action with others. According to Earth Day Canada, 45% of Canadians say they are living with “eco-anxiety,” which is described as mental health distress caused by high levels of concern about the environment.

“It’s time for everyone to equip themselves with the tools they need to heal,” said Valérie Mallamo, executive director of Earth Day Canada, in a release. “We want everyone to take action as a community: a powerful remedy for eco-anxiety.”

How: There are a number of tactics and creative assets here, but the central creative idea is that if people are sick with worry about the environment, they should “call in sick” on Earth Day and do something about it.

The campaign includes a landing page at featuring a form people can fill in to symbolically call in sick in order to “take part in group therapy in the form of positive collective actions for the planet.” When submitting the form, the user receives suggestions for activities near them.

While the call to “call in sick” may be symbolic, it still makes the larger point that damage being done to the planet is causing real illness to the people on it.

Sid Lee also created a 30-second TV ad which uses a blend of live-action and animation to show people in various states of distress as a voiceover lists symptoms like insomnia, stress, panic and anger. “Climate change can cause eco-anxiety,” says the voiceover. “Our therapy? Group action. Call in sick for Earth Day so you can take care of yourself and the planet.”

“Feeling powerless is one of the main symptoms of eco-anxiety,” said Kristian Manchester, global executive creative director at Sid Lee and a member of the Earth Day Canada board. “With the invitation to take a sick day, we wanted to offer an opportunity to soothe eco-anxiety with concrete actions: Group therapy, going to conferences, or other initiatives like participating in a clean-up.”

And we quote: “With everything that’s happening in the world, the war in Ukraine, COVID, and the climate crisis, there’s a collective feeling of dread looming. We need to act. The planet needs us to be in good shape.” — Thomas Mulcair, chairman of the board, Earth Day Canada

David Brown