First published October 2007, updated November 2009
Ever felt that your efforts towards greening your life were so “underwhelming” when compared to others’ environmental endeavors it was hardly worth the effort?
Don’t – your contribution is so important.
I hang out on a lot of sites where uber-greens frequent, and at times I feel pretty insignificant in terms of the changes I make in my life in order to be more environmentally friendly. Some of these people are so hard-core, it can be a little intimidating; but they offer a lot of really valuable advice for green living – you may not be able to yet apply it to the ‘nth degree, but making inroads is better than no progress at all.
While you may aspire to join the ranks of the uber-green, bear in mind it takes time. You’ve been living your life a certain way for so long that these changes can’t be expected to occur overnight; as much as we’d all like them to – and really, the planet is crying out for us to as well.
Actually, regarding that last statement, just a clarification. Planet Earth survived quite well without humanity and it can do so again; albeit it will be a much different place if conditions were such for that to eventuate.
“Saving the planet” is a catch-cry used by many, myself included – but it’s really about saving the magnificent biodiversity in plants and animals that remain and ensuring our planet is conducive to our species continuing to live on it in some degree of comfort. We, like so many species here before us, may only be guests rather than permanent residents here; but even the dinosaurs had a very extended stay – there’s no need to cut ours short through our own doing.
That said, let’s push on.
As you start learning about green living, it’s quite possible you’ll feel totally overwhelmed as you discover how much damage our lifestyles are wreaking upon the environment; it may seem that just about everything you do is “wrong” – so, first off:
Set attainable green goals
If your life is so hectic that big changes are extremely difficult; start with the little stuff. For example, you could be replacing one incandescent globe a week with a CFL or LED light. Or perhaps changing your brand of toilet paper another week to one that is made from recycled paper and is packaged with the same.
Here’s one tip that will certainly save you money – each week, resist buying something you don’t need, no matter how alluring it may be.
One small change to your lifestyle each week adds up to 52 changes over a year! There’s so much we can all do to help “acclimatize” ourselves to a more eco-savvy lifestyle.
Pat yourself on the back
This is important – list the changes that you are making somewhere, so if you’re ever feeling green-deficient, you can give yourself a pep talk by reviewing your achievements.
The important thing is to keep on achieving, but by greening your life in small steps, the bigger goal won’t seem so overwhelming and you may even reach it faster than you originally thought.
Be patient with the uber-greens
The uber-green set may berate you at times for not doing enough, displaying a “greener than thou” attitude. That’s understandable; they clearly understand where our environment is at and their green lifestyle is second nature.
Many of these people were also ridiculed when they tried to warn others years ago about the environmental crisis we are now witnessing; so some of their ire is payback. Others are second-generation green and they have heard of their parent’s struggles for acceptance and being ostracized by the mainstream.
When you become so familiar with a way of life, it’s hard to understand anyone else who doesn’t and this can lead to excessive criticism of others. Take from them the value they have to give and discard the rest. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions, we all had to start learning somewhere.
Remember, the goal is to keep achieving minor victories in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle until you’re at a point when you can tackle the really big issues. Lime is the first step on the road to green :).
We all have much to do and not as much time as we once thought we had to preserve the planet in a state we know as home – so continued forward movement, however small, is critical.