I'll confess that some days, I find this whole eco-friendly and sustainable living thing pretty exhausting.
Some days it seems like I'm the only one who cares about the planet. Some days it seems like I don't care nearly enough. And some days, oh some days, it seems like I can't do anything right without some major and irreversible consequence to the environment.
It's tiring and taxing, and it can lead to burnout if we're not careful. Seriously. When you begin to see the complexity of environmental issues all around you, it grows increasingly difficult to feel like your contribution can change, let alone save, anything.
The conundrum of caring
It's a catch-22. You become aware of the problems and feel a sense of responsibility to do something, but deep down you know the kind of change necessary needs to come from the top-down. You know ditching plastic straws and reducing waste and eating with the environment in mind are helpful, but you also know you alone can't clean up the oceans or stop climate change.
It's a difficult realization to come to terms with, and I feel a lot of people shy away from green goals due to this sense of insignificance. After all, why should we change our lifestyles if we're already so close to the critical point of no return?
I keep trying to change for largely selfish reasons. I feel guilty knowing the things I know and not changing my behaviour. That being said, I am far from some eco-green goddess.
I have days of doubting whether or not a few rolls of paper towel are really that big of a deal, days when I still stop for drive-thru coffee without a reusable mug, days when I eat too much meat, too many imported vegetables, and drink cans of soda water without much thought of the impact of what I'm doing.
Then I have days of feeling like a total garage human for taking a bath or walking past a piece of trash or eating anything from a box.
What to do if you feel discouraged
On the days we feel self-doubt, let's remember this: We are trying our best in a society that is not built for eco-friendly living (which is a massive part of the problem in the first place). We are making steps toward more sustainable living and we're learning. I know it feels like we're not moving fast enough, but we're working on it, and we need to work on ourselves, too. We need to take some time for self-care so we don't burnout and throw in the bamboo towel.
So here is my self-care guide that reflects my eco-friendly side. This list is my go-to on days when I feel like nothing I'm doing for the planet is quite enough, and I need to sit and chill for a while to refresh my motivation. I hope it helps you too because you deserve it. We all deserve it, especially in uncertain times.
1. Spend time in nature
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the day-to-day stuff that I forget what got me into this whole eco-friendly thing in the first place: my love of nature.
When you're feeling down or disconnected, do yourself a favour and take a time-out in a natural space: a forest, park, beach, mountain, garden, etc. Let yourself actually enjoy the places you try to protect by living a more sustainable lifestyle.
2. Read about positive green news
It's not all doom and gloom out there, but it can quickly seem that way when all we focus on is negative headlines. Take a break from what's going wrong to appreciate the many strides people are making to help the planet. Knowing the good news can really change one's perspective about the state of things.
For instance, did you know floating trashcans are being used to clean up ocean pollution? How about the fact that the Hawaiian corral reefs are stabilizing after mass bleaching?
Check out the "Environment" section of the Good News Network for uplifting stories when you need some motivation and inspiration.
3. Spritz yourself with some essential oil wellness spray
Treating a tired mind to some natural aromatherapy is an earth-friendly way to practice self-care.
You can make your own DIY essential oil spray with calming scents or purchase a wellness spray from an eco-friendly company like the Rocky Mountain Soap Co.
4. Take stock of everything you have done to become more eco-friendly
You're probably doing a lot more for the planet that you realize. On days when you feel discouraged, take a look at all the small changes you have already made. Remember that while one person alone isn't likely to change the world, your contribution does matter and adds up over time.
5. Find an environmental group and get involved with likeminded people
Feeling like you're the only one who cares about the environment makes it really hard to keep moving forward with your green goals. After all, it's entirely true that we are who we surround ourselves with. Find some likeminded people through Facebook or Reddit groups, local event pages, and sites like Meetup. You never know what group needs someone just like you to help them make an impact.
When you feel get discouraged, practice some self-care instead of giving up. Remember that it's not up to you to singlehandedly save the planet, so you don't need to carry that weight around, you need only do your best.