You Can Quit Feeling Guilty—Sustainability Isn’t An All Or Nothing Game
Progress, Not Perfection
Sustainability is a topic that has been gaining more and more traction over the years and we are currently at a peak of people living a more conscious and eco-friendly life, which is amazing! In the rise of reusable grocery bags, unfortunately, there can also be a culture of guilt surrounding sustainability from people shaming others for not being the perfect knight in shining eco-friendly armor.
Similar to many aspects of life, it is easy to feel so out of the loop and not even know where to start with a sustainable lifestyle. I have had so many friends and family ask what sustainability even means. Technically, it’s “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance,” but I like to bring it into focus by saying it’s anything that in its process helps people or the planet. Biked to work instead of driving? Awesome! You are already taking sustainable action. Sustainable living isn’t an all-or-nothing poker game.
The Guilt Of Not Doing Enough
Can I tell you a secret? Unless someone is living entirely off the grid with solar panels and creating zero waste, nobody is living the most perfect wrapped up in a bow sustainable life. A little guilt can be motivating to try new sustainable techniques, like using beeswax paper instead of saran wrap, but don’t get weighed down by it. Not everyone can do it all—find the areas that work for you, or try to incorporate a new eco-friendly practice into your life every week, or month, and cut yourself some slack for those that don’t.
I have been acutely aware of the guilt that is attached to living a more sustainable lifestyle since becoming a writer for a The Good Trade. Once I tell people, they love to try and catch me in scandalous acts of not being eco-friendly, “oh well that cup isn’t reusable” “you know that dress is from Forever 21, right?” I try to live a more conscious life everyday, but we are all human and it doesn’t always work out as well as I’d hope. But like anything, it’s all about progress and moving forward. Trying new sustainable techniques and ways that fit my lifestyle. Don’t let the haters get you down, any progress is still progress.
So we get it. We all feel guilty about not doing enough, but don’t let it keep you out of the game.
Some Tips For Sharing Sustainability
Advocates for sustainability are not here to make you feel like you’re doing a horrible job because you used paper towels (the horror!) We are just trying to make the resources more available and knowledge on the positive aspects of sustainability more accessible. There are more outlets than ever before, and more companies working to not take away your creature comforts, but rather provide practical sustainable options. Living sustainably doesn’t have to be a pious—it can be fun and rewarding not filled with burden, as at times it can appear from the outside.
Here are a few ways you can positively share your sustainable lifestyle—because it’s better to make small changes than no changes at all!
Rather than suggesting alternatives to friends, lead by example, bring your own reusable straws or mugs to coffee dates with friends.
If you are already making moves to live a more sustainable life, realize that others might not even be on the game board or know where to start, and that’s okay, they’ll come around. Share what you’ve learned with positivity and kindness.
Be more conscious about decisions that you normally go on autopilot for, like next time you buy a lipstick consider are the ingredients organic? Is the packaging eco-friendly?
Sustainability isn’t a one-size-fits-all romper. Know that we are rooting for you and all of us are in the same boat. Not into spending $$$$ on new fair trade clothing? Try thrift shopping!
Read resources like The Good Trade for more tips and tricks on way to incorporate sustainability in your everyday life and join a community striving to make the world a little better and brighter.
Sarah Spoljaric is a California girl through and through. She has a BA in World History from one of the top 10 greenest campuses in the world; The University of California, Merced and is a Content Curator for the visual travel app Trepic. She has a background in museum curating, loves reading women’s travel journals and is in search of the perfect IPA. She’s passionate about exploring this beautiful world that ethically-produced goods help to protect. Say hi on Instagram!