HOW TO CONQUER OVERWHELM AND LIVE A GREEN LIFESTYLE
Life is full of conflicting priorities. If you’re anything like me you have a to do list that could rival the length of the Great Wall of China and no matter how hard you try it doesn’t get smaller. Time and motivation are your enemy. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, bombarded and suffocated by all the things we should be doing. To be completely honest, feeling like it’s all too hard is the main reason I fail at a lot of things. Adopting a greener lifestyle included. I’m going to share some of my strategies and ideas that help me stick to my convictions.
Know and accept that you can’t do it all
This is the most important point. We are often our own worst enemies and harshest critics. We can’t all undertake a complete lifestyle change (live off the grid etc), it’s unrealistic and doesn’t appeal to everyone. Accept that you might only be able to make small changes and avoid comparison.
You probably have a job, kids, friends, and social commitments. Temper your expectations. Be realistic. You might not have time to grow your vegetables but you might be able to get to the farmers market once a month. Setting realistic goals is the key to sticking it out and eventually achieving them. We have been conditioned over the years to live the way we do today. It will take time to undo the bad habits.
You don’t have to do it all at once. Small simple steps are the best way to make real change in your life. It also means you are less likely to forget if you only have one thing to remember. And don’t think it needs to be a big, grand or expensive change like installing solar panels (although that is great if you can do it!). Small changes add up over time and before you know it, living a greener life is second nature.
Get rid of the ‘green’ guilt
This is something I struggle with. I feel guilty about most things. But let's be real, it achieves nothing. Don’t sweat it if you stuff up or forget to do something. Instead of feeling guilty use that brainpower constructively and work out why/where you went wrong and what you can do to avoid it in future.
What interests you the most?
I think the best way to stay motivated and committed to change is to start in an area that you’re interested and/or passionate about. Think climate change is boring (vitally important issue of course but admittedly not the most thrilling topic) but love cooking? You can start reducing food waste or shopping for local produce instead of the big supermarkets. Incidentally you end up helping something that wasn’t that interesting to you – climate change. Everything relates so even if you do one small thing, it has a flow on effect to other areas.
Pick something that you do a lot
If you are going to focus on one thing to change, make it something you do a lot. Do you love fashion and purchase a lot of clothes? Start op shopping instead or buying from eBay and consignment stores. Even though you are only changing one thing, it adds up if it’s something that frequently occurs in your daily/weekly routine.
What sustainable and green practices should you start with?
Start with one that piques your interest or one you will find easy. Once it becomes second nature you can move onto another one.
- Keep green/calico shopping bags in your handbag or car. Put them back straight after you unpack your shopping. That way you will never forget them!
- Get strict with recycling. It’s amazing how many items we throw in landfill that can actually be recycled. We have written about it here.
- Grow some vegetables. It doesn’t even have to be in the garden. You can regrow simple things that you have purchased from the store such as spring onion and celery in a bowl or glass of water.
- Reduce food waste. At the end of the week check out what you have in the fridge and make what Sarah Wilson calls a mish mash meal.
- If you have the means, donate to a charity that supports green, environmental or ethical causes. You can set up a direct deposit and then forget! How easy is that one to check off your list?
- Buy local. Go to your local markets or farmers markets on the weekend to pick up your groceries.
- Second hand. It’s so much more satisfying shopping at thrift stores and finding a gem. Check out this post for some great second hand shopping tips.
- Hang out your clothes. Ditch the dryer. I don’t even own one. Sometimes my house is covered in drying clothes when the weather is rainy but it saves so much energy and money!