‘Eco’ Perfection Doesn’t Exist. Here Are 5 Things to Keep in Mind as You Begin Your Sustainable Lifestyle Journey

Sustainable living isn’t about “doing it all” since perfection doesn’t exist, there just isn’t enough time in the day to be concerned about all the environmental and conservation issues, and to aim for perfection is foolish. Trying to be ‘eco’ perfect in every single area of your life will only bring on stress and anxiety.

Of course, it can be overwhelming watching seasoned zero wasters and sustainability advocates live what seems such stylish eco lives complete with beautiful veggie gardens, matching glass jars and food containers and plastic-free pantries and fridges. Spend time on social media long enough watching zero waste and sustainable lifestyle influencers influencers and what may have started off as inspirational content can start to make anyone feel lazy and guilty for not doing enough to save the planet after a few months of endless watching non-stop ‘eco’ related content.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin your sustainable lifestyle journey:

1. Beware of social media ‘highlight reels’

In an interview with Nature & Health, popular Aussie plant-based cook and founder of the Vegie Head Academy Adele McConnell shares her thoughts on the topic: “There is this whole perpetuation on social media of perfectionism which is exhausting, and it’s not real life. There are young girls out there that want the life they see on social media and the seeming riches that come with it all, but they’re miserable and don’t know how to get there. Then there are the other girls that make up elaborate stories and fairy tales about their life to try and get what they think you want; but again it’s not real.”

The moral of the story? Beware of the highlight reels of social media ‘eco’ influencers. Behind an amazing shot may be an annoyed partner, a frustrated friend or even an exhausted influencer themselves. There may also be a trail of mess, personally, emotionally and actually which is rarely captured and shared on social media.

2. Avoid ‘comparanitis

Comparing your beginning to someone’s decade-long journey is a recipe for disaster for your mental health. Sustainable living is not a race and you should avoid treating it line one. Everyone is on their own journey and sustainable living will look different to different people. You do what’s best and right for you.

3. Practice makes perfect.

Learning sustainable lifestyle habits such as using less plastic or cooking more plant-based meals is like learning any new skill– practice makes perfect. You may forget to bring your reusable cup, or tell the bartender “no straw” or get duped by a fashion brand’s greenwashed marketing messages. Don’t beat yourself up. Just learn from it, do better next time, and keep going, learning and applying, until you’ve established better habits and you can move on to learning something else.

4. Less talk, more action.

There’s lots of talk online about what people should be doing but we find people are much more inspired by action– when we show followers how to do something. So keep this in mind when you’re on your eco journey, less talking, more doing. And as the famous Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coelho once said, “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion”.

5. Check your privilege.

Privilege absolutely exists in the green community. Some people live in the Western world with access to municipality recycling and composting services. Some people have a backyard to grow their food. Others come from wealth and can afford expensive sustainable fashion. Some people don’t have children and have way more time to devote to making their own things. Others are able-bodied. Be mindful that not everyone starts off from the same place and judging someone else isn’t helpful, even if in that moment you feel better, more superior to them having judged them as doing less than you. You don’t know what issues they’re dealing with and for every Instagram/Facebook/Twitter account (except the bots of course!) there is in fact a human being with emotions, feelings, strengths and flaws – just like you.

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Recommending reading:

  • 20 Items That Should Be On Your Zero Waste List
  • 30 Facts and Statistics About Plastic to Inspire Your Plastic Free Journey
  • 22 Steps Closer to Zero Waste Living: Disposable Items to Stop Buying Right Now
  • 20 Steps to Plastic-Free Living
  • Daily Sustainable Habits: 7 Ways You Can Reduce Your Waste
  • Bringing Frugality Back: Why Living Frugally is More Sustainable
  • 5 Zero Waste Goals to Help Reduce Your Environmental Impact in 2021
  • Individuals in the Developed World Consume More of the Earth’s Resources. Here’s How to Consume Less…

Cover photo by Diana Akhmetianova.

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