Changing the habits of a lifetime

About a month ago, I fell down a rabbit hole of zero-waste/ organic/ sustainable living blogs. Having read an article about how rarely plastics from the bathroom (shampoo and shower gel bottles etc) are recycled, I realised that for no explicable reason that was true of me too, and started looking at other ways I could tweak my habits for the better.

While I’ve never been an ‘eco-warrior’, I also don’t think I’m one of the worst offenders. I’ve carried around reusable bags for years, always mended my clothes and reused bottles and containers as much as I could. However I’ve done these actions as to me they just seemed sensible, not because of an overarching awareness of sustainability.

In the last six months environmental and sustainability issues have become unavoidable across all media, and it’s made me think more and more about the impact of my actions, from the big to the small. I think my journey down the rabbit hole has gone through 4 stages:

Stage 1 – mind blown.
It’s fair to say it wasn’t long before I was feeling overwhelmed with information and things I should be doing. What was most distressing is that in a lot of cases there is no one right answer. Something might be organic but in plastic packaging, or made from recycled materials but not recyclable, how do you decide which factor is more important?

Stage 2 – guilt ridden.
Reading about all the positive lifestyle choices people have made and the negative effects what we consume has on the planet, left me feeling horrible about the life I’ve been happily living. How have I been so thoughtless?

Stage 3 – accepting imperfection.
Having decided things in our house will be changing, it struck me what a big job this would be. Not only would some things require initial purchases I hadn’t planned for, but other changes required services that might not be easily available locally. Things like finding shops where you can bring in your own containers, and where to recycle the various items the council doesn’t collect. I quickly realised I’m unlikely to ever be a person who can fit the entirety of their month’s waste into a jar. It took longer to feel like it’s OK to start small and not change my whole life in a week.

Stage 4 – making changes.
Where to start?! It was clear there was something that could be improved in nearly every aspect of our daily routine. To help focus I thought I’d start with where I felt was most wasteful and easiest to change, the bathroom, then work through reassessing our daily life one action at a time!

Somewhere between stages 2 and 3 I realised that for the sake of my sanity, and to make this a change in mentality I could keep up, I would need to bring some order in. After thinking about which impacts I feel most strongly about, and what I can feasibly do, I’ve decided on four things to help me keep evaluating and improving my choices. Not all of them are directly related to the environment, but more about the overall approach I want to take in life.

  • Waste less – considering packaging in my daily routines, finding reusable alternatives and recycling everything possible
  • Craft more – as well as considering if the things I’m throwing out could have a second life, I generally want to spend more time being creative as it’s sorely lacking from my day job
  • Buy independent – I’ve always been a big fan of buying things from makers and small businesses, the products are unique and they often work within a strong and transparent set of values. Going forward I want to make these my first points of call, especially when buying presents
  • Make informed choices – taking the time to research the impact of my decisions (purchases, services used etc.) and seeing if there is a better alternative

That’s where this blog comes in. I love keeping track of what I’m learning and the things I’m trying out, and wanted somewhere to store it all. I don’t think my life will every be environmentally perfect, but I’m open to suggestions of how I can take steps in a good direction!

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