I quit plastic all in one go after seeing burning piles of trash in 2016. The toxic fumes triggered my asthma and the desire to become a part of the solution, not the problem. Within a week, I failed. I felt eco-guilt, aka feeling bad about not being perfectly green. After wallowing, I decided to make tangible changes as I forayed into eliminating harmful products. To manage eco-guilt, set realistic goals. Here are three principles that have helped me live a more eco-friendly life.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to swap everything at once
Start by tackling one single-use plastic item at a time, such as straws, bags, bottles, or takeaway cups. These products are easy to replace with eco-friendly alternatives.
Don’t throw away products you’re currently using. The most environmentally sound option is to finish using what you already have before buying eco-friendly replacements. When you buy replacements for bathroom and kitchen items, opt for products packaged in glass and paper wherever possible.
Give yourself grace but hold yourself accountable
Habits take time to form. Setbacks are inevitable. Reduce your chances of needing to use plastic by checking your bag before you leave the house to ensure you have your reusable items. Accept that you’re going to forget them in the beginning as you adjust.
Give yourself grace, especially in moments that feel like a failure. Keep track of your successes, like a month without buying a plastic water bottle or consistently dropping your scraps off for compost. Celebrate your effort to reduce your negative environmental impact.
When you’re overwhelmed by plastic, focus on other lifestyle changes to decrease your carbon footprint. For instance, I’m vegan, I use public transport, and I don’t buy polyester clothing. In addition to reducing my plastic waste, these lifestyle changes help me minimize my negative environmental impact. Assess your own habits and find one aspect at a time that you can pivot toward being a bit more green.
Follow those that inspire you, not guilt you
Don’t follow zero-wasters that use guilt as a motivator. Connect with those who lead by example and will encourage you as you go green. I’ve learned quite a bit from @heyashleyrenne, @waterthruskin, and @jaclynmccosker.
Don’t let eco-guilt make you give up on living a more mindful life. When going green feels a bit overwhelming, focus on the efforts you’re making and know that your lifestyle changes are making a difference. Let go of the concept of being perfectly zero-waste and instead aim toward minimizing your waste.
Feature Image: Pexels
This originally appeared on AD CLEVER | Lola Mendez