I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about protecting the environment, plastic, zero waste and green living and we got as well to the subject of feeling guilty… remembering back to the beginning, living in an area where it is absolutely impossible to go zero waste and the guilt trips I sent myself on, I decided to write about green living and feeling guilty.
There is 2 different types of green living & feeling guilty: One you can use to your advantage and one you should put aside and ignore.
When green living and feeling guilty is okay:
It happens to us all. We go shopping and forgot to take bags with us…
Or we buy the takeaway coffee, the sweets that are singly packed in a packet.
We take the car instead of walking because it is quicker.
I am guilty of buying loads of plastic bags. But on the other hand, I wanted to make a lot of things from plastic bags, so they will be used. And I use them for picking up the litter when we take our dog for a walk.
No, stop feeling guilty and start learning from your guilty feeling! Learn from your “mistakes” and change your habits. I now always have bags everywhere. And when I use them for shopping, they go straight by the door, so I can put them back into the car.
I also started remembering my own coffee cup! Now I don´t have to buy a coffee in a throw away cup or have none 🙂
When green living and feeling guilty is not good and you have to stop:
Some people I spoke to got discouraged, because they straight away aim to go zero waste. As I said many times: going zero waste is a great ideal to aim for, but next to impossible to achieve. So, please be realistic in you expectations as well! Don´t put yourself under pressure!
We live in an area where it is extremely hard to buy things without packaging. I always felt guilty, but we still need to eat!
Here is where feeling guilty needs to stop! As long as you do what you can, it´s fine.
A few days ago I went shopping. I was standing in front of the shelves with the rice. There was a packet of ecological rice I was looking at. Then I see a local rice and decided to buy this one instead. Why? Simple, this one was packed in carton whereas the ecological was in plastic packaging.
More examples: we love muffins and I don´t always have the time to bake. So I now buy the muffins which are not singly packed within a plastic pack. I cannot avoid buying them in plastic, but I can avoid unnecessary packaging.
As you might know, we have recently “adopted” the dog of my mother in law as she cannot look after him anymore. On one hand, we are using a lot more plastic bags than ever. But they are biodegradable. And we get out more, carrying another plastic bag to pick up all the litter we find.
Let´s re-cap: Green living and feeling guilty
Specially when you are first starting: don´t beat yourself up when you slip up! Learn from it and avoid making the same mistake.
Every tiny step counts! So, focus on what you already have achieved instead on what not.
And lastly, don´t feel guilty when you cannot change the situation.
Your turn: Where are you feeling guilty? And where did you stop feeling guilty already?
If you are not sure on where to start, download my FREE pdf “15 Tips on Starting a Greener Life”
Other post that might interest you: How to teach your kids the importance of green living, 25 ways to protect the environment when on a budget and, if you want to go a bit deeper into it, my e-book “Ease into Green Living“.