“There’s so much more you should be doing.”
“It’s like you don’t even care about the impact your actions have.”
“If you want to save the planet, you’re going to have to change your entire life.”
That sort of negative self-talk haunted my thoughts the moment I decided to live more sustainably. It felt as though no matter what I did, there was always so much more I needed to do if I was going to dare to call my lifestyle “sustainable.” If you’ve decided to join the “Necessary Revolution” and live more sustainably, I bet you’ve felt the same way.
When I first started my research and reading a lot of blogs on sustainability, I came across one post in particular that completely turned me off. It said something how too many people were jumping on the bandwagon, claiming the term “sustainable” without really understanding it. The post said that unless you were taking drastic measures, you couldn’t call yourself sustainable.
For a newcomer, that sort of thinking made me feel like a fraud. Though I had just come to recognize my need to make some conscious changes toward sustainability, that post made me feel as though no good choice I made even counted if I wasn’t going to go turn my entire life upside-down and go to extreme lengths to save the planet.
I wondered if I belonged in this new world of sustainability.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how wrong that comment really was. There is no right or wrong way to be sustainable. And changing your life isn’t easy. Every choice toward a more sustainable future matters, no matter how small. We should welcome EVERYONE who is interested in sustainability and be patient with them (and ourselves) as they make changes today for a better tomorrow.
No one knows everything when they first start. The people who’ve been trying to live sustainably for a long time don’t know everything, either. Living sustainably is about balance. It’s about making small changes that fit with your current lifestyle.
If you try to take on too much when you start this sustainable journey, you’ll quickly feel defeated. You might even give up -- I know there were times when I considered it.
But you shouldn’t give up. Your decisions matter. The most important part of sustainability is making changes TODAY that will impact TOMORROW.
Sustainability is simply choosing to not be harmful to the environment in order to support long-term ecological balance -- and there are a lot of ways to start doing that. As you start making changes, you’ll start to notice that plastic and other unnecessary waste lurks in every corner of your home and your daily routines. Trying to eliminate all of it all at once just isn’t possible.
Instead, I encourage you to start small. These little things will add up and make you happier by feeling and seeing your progress firsthand. Here are a few tips that definitely would have helped me as I embarked on my sustainability journey:
Try eliminating or replacing just one product. Give yourself some time to get used to the alternative product and decide whether to commit to it -- I like to give new products a good 2-4 weeks.
Start Where it Makes Sense
Our individual routines are different -- make changes that are best for you personally. For example, if you get coffee at work, keep a mug at your desk. If you buy coffee or tea on your way into work, buy a reusable mug that fits in your cupholder. Places like Starbucks are more than happy to fill reusable mugs (and they’ll even give you a discount for it!).
Share Your Experiences
We are truly stronger together. Your journey won’t always be easy, but sharing your experiences with your friends and family can make you feel more empowered and may also inspire them to make some small changes.
So, in response to that negative self-talk that creeps in far too often, my message is this:
What you’re doing matters.
Every action you take to be more sustainable adds up.
If you have the desire to live more sustainably, you’re already on your way.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed about sustainable living? What are some things you wish you’d known as you started on this same journey? Let me know in the comments!