When you try to live your life as eco-friendly as possible, there’s a catch. Sure, you’ll feel the joy of doing good and of accomplishment. Yet you’ll also have a high risk of feeling you don’t do enough, you’re not as green as the influencers you see, you’ll never be zero waste. Well, when you find yourself staring at a mason jar, wondering how on earth anyone can reduce their waste to that tiny amount, remember this. You will never be that 100 percent perfectly sustainable, and that’s absolutely fine.
- There’s no such thing as perfect sustainability
- Selfcare trumps eco-friendly lifestyle
- You need to do what fits your situation
- No short showers
- Not vegan, merely flexitarian
- Still drive a car
- My bicycle is an e-bike
- Sometimes the easy pick wins
- No DIY cleaning products in my house
- Weed overgrown garden is no vegetable patch
- Tropical fruits or rice? Yum
- No rainwater collection
- Loads of online business and pleasure
- The solution is bigger than just us
There’s no such thing as perfect sustainability
Really. Let it slide. Give yourself a break. Compliment yourself with all the green, eco-friendly, sustainable, planet-proof things you already do. And forgive yourself for not being perfect. Feel the relief of accepting that you don’t need to be. That none of us are. And yet, together, we can make a difference. We will have an impact because we are with many. And millions of imperfect sustainable people always accomplish more than one perfect you. There: take a deep breath and appreciate your effort.
You need to realize this: a lot of the zero-waste and the sustainability movement is about privilege. Do you live near farmer’s markets? Do you have easy access to organic stores? Do you have the transportation to carry your heavy grocery bags filled with refillable mason jars to the shop? Do you have the time to find the best buys in your region? Do you have the energy or health to do it all? Can you find plastic-free or vegan options for your food allergies? Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to keep up with other people’s privileges. Sounds simple, right. And yet, it can be easier said than done.
Selfcare trumps eco-friendly lifestyle
And another thing. There are dozens and dozens of things I do that help against climate disruption. Be it on a daily, regular or irregular basis. So many conscious choices that I know will help. But, there’s a big but. You can go overboard with your desire to do good. Not for nature because we know mother earth can use all the help she can get. Nope, you can go overboard with you. Crossing the boundaries of what is good for you. Too often, self-care gets marginalized in an eco-friendly lifestyle. And you should not let that happen: choose yourself. You are nature too.
Believe me, I’ve been there. My rational brain went in overdrive: if you do this or don’t do that for sustainability, you should also do this or shouldn’t do that. It snowballed. Up to a point, my life started to become harder and less fun. Let me give you an example.
You need to do what fits your situation
I’m having severe energetic problems, causing me to be exhausted all the time. So cycling isn’t always an option, even with an e-bike. But going for a drive, just for fun or sightseeing, was a waste of petrol. I wouldn’t allow myself to spoil fuel like that. Until I realized I need it for my sanity. Until I realized I’m nature too. I need to take care of myself to be able to take care of people and the planet.
When that clicked, I knew I had to indulge in some less sustainable activities. I do what I can when I can. And that’s all you should do yourself too. So let me tell you about the things I still do or have returned to that aren’t considered eco-friendly. You’ll see that you’ve easily swapped some of these things for sustainable alternatives. Making you greener than me in that area. While I may do other things in a more eco-friendly way. Because we need to do what fits our situation.
More on eco-friendly selfcare:
No short showers
In random order, here it comes. I love to take longer showers. It helps me relax, and it soothes my aching muscles. It also takes some time to wash and rinse my long hair. Showering is a moment I treasure, a true luxury. But here’s the thing: due to my exhaustion, I don’t shower daily. I only enjoy that luxury once every five days or so. The other days I simply use a cloth and wash with cold water at the sink. So maybe it evens out during the month. Or is that just wishful thinking? 😉
Not vegan, merely flexitarian
I still eat meat. I’m not ready to become a vegetarian, let alone vegan. Through the years, I and my love, have reduced the amount of meat we consume enormously. And we don’t have it every day either. We hardly eat any red meat anymore, nor pork. But I still love chicken or turkey. And our famous Dutch cheeses. Swapping it for soy-based alternatives is no option for me because they affect the thyroid-function. And that’s already a problem for me. So I choose to be a flexitarian but eat meat consciously.
Still drive a car
Living in a village with crappy public transport, I won’t give up my car. It’s my ticket to freedom. And to work, doctor’s appointments, the mandatory stuff. The problem is, it’s a petrol car. Geez, how I would love to drive an electric vehicle or, better yet, a solar one. But I can’t afford a new car. So this one will have to be well maintained and drive until it can drive no more. But: I think about the miles I need to go, combine chores or visits when I can, and swap the car for my e-bike for short rides.
My bicycle is an e-bike
My e-bike is a life-saver to me: regained freedom. Riding an ordinary bicycle became too exhausting for me, many years ago already. It uses electricity when charging, so it’s not as green as a regular bike. But it still beats taking the car. I calculated that I’ve saved about a thousand car miles over the years when using my e-bike instead.
Sometimes the easy pick wins
If I can, I pick zero waste products to swap for the products I used before. But I don’t go out of my way to find them. When shopping, both online and in stores, I choose plastic-free and package-free options when available. Of course, I do. But sometimes, what I need isn’t easily found in a zero-waste brand or not affordable enough. I don’t mind paying extra for sustainable choices, I do all the time, but it can’t stretch beyond the content of my wallet.
No DIY cleaning products in my house
It would be both cheaper and more eco-friendly to make my own cleaning or beauty products. Well, yeah, I don’t see that happening any time soon. I simply lack the energy to go to the kitchen and whip it all up. That may sound silly to healthy people. But even small tasks like these are too much for my system. That’s why I still buy ready-made products. They are, of course, as eco-friendly and toxin-free as I can find them. And when possible, bought in bulk to reduce package waste. But they are not homemade.
Weed overgrown garden is no vegetable patch
So yeah, that goes for growing my own food too. I can’t even keep up with an ordinary garden. Mine is filled with weeds, and neighbors start giving me the evil eye about the wild-growing plants. It’s ecological heaven for pollinators though, so I can’t be bothered, hahaha. But anyway: vegetables and fruits are a whole other level of maintenance. One that I can’t cope with. So I buy organic food from a small farm in the area that delivers to my doorstep.
Tropical fruits or rice? Yum
I don’t only eat local food. I’m Dutch: the Netherlands is relatively high up north. And there’s a limit to the number of beets and potatoes one can eat, right?! So I eat fruits from abroad, like pineapple and lemons. And don’t forget the yummy rice. It takes fuel to transport it to me, and I hope we’ll soon improve the sustainability of transportation vastly. Until then, I choose to keep the variety in my diet regardless.
No rainwater collection
I don’t collect rainwater to water my plants. Yet. It’s on my wish list to find an excellent way to do that. But I live in a rental, so I can’t mess with drainage. And I need to restore rain pipes into their original state should I ever move out. So any system that I’d come up with would need to be easily removed. Then again, I don’t have a lawn, so don’t spend any water on keeping my grass green. And I don’t use sprinklers to water my garden either: I push my plants to the limit during a drought so they’ll grow deeper roots. And it works because my garden has always been more drought-resistant than others in the neighborhood.
Loads of online business and pleasure
And last but not at all least: I use the internet a lot. It’s my go-to tool for work, for this blog, and for fun and games. Hours and hours I spend online or in digital folders. And we all know that computer servers around the world are colossal energy slurpers. I’ve got rented solar panels on my roof to ease the pain a bit. But it still hurts. I try to keep electricity use contained, and there are limits to what I allow myself. For instance: I would never invest in digital currencies like Bitcoin because digital mining money is an energy disaster.
The solution is bigger than just us
See, I’m an advocate for an eco-friendly lifestyle, and yet I’m far from perfect. And I’m absolutely, truly, completely fine with that. You should be too. We need the top 100 companies to up their game more than we need to be 100 percent sustainable ourselves. We simply can’t be that perfect. And the big wins lie with the big brands anyway. Let’s focus on them. Let’s hold them accountable. After all, that’s where the most significant gain can be found. And we? We’ll keep doing our best. While taking real good care of ourselves.
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