Are you just learning how to go green? Maybe you’re already eco-aware and looking for new tips on green living. Where ever you are in your green lifestyle, I can almost guarantee that at some point your frame of mind will be overwhelm from what seems to be an endless journey to going green.
You already know that if we want more healthy lives for our children, and theirs, it needs to start with us.
The first step is becoming educated on green living and its impact on the environment. Then, what we read has to translate into eco-friendly behavior, attitude and lifestyle. That’s where the frustration and overwhelm can come in.
Things get a lot easier when you realize that to go green is more than a set of rules and behaviors. Going green is a frame of mind.
Several recent surveys show that Americans feel a lot of “green guilt,” a term coined to define the knowledge that you could and should be doing more to help preserve the environment.
One determined that 29% of Americans admit to feeling green guilt. Results of another show that 56% have waste-related concerns, almost 25% feel guilty about not recycling, and 13% feel guilty about using paper plates and cups.
On the one hand, this shows that people are getting the message. The tide is turning in favor of the planet. On the other hand, guilt never solved one little thing. It can be one of the most damaging emotions, including green guilt.
How do you resolve feelings of guilt? Take action! Rectify the toxic behavior that is causing it!
Don’t expect to change your lifestyle overnight. If a spouse and children are involved, they also need time to adapt and support the family’s steps to going green.
In the beginning, if you make just a few changes in your daily life, you’ll make an impact against the increase in global warming. As you get comfortable, going green will come easier.
You want to do the right thing. Welcome the Green Guilt Police.
By now, most of us are familiar with recycling paper, plastic and glass. Many cities require recycling. Now “they” tell you that to go green, you must take paint, tires, light bulbs, toxic electronics and plastic bags to a special collection point.
Parts of the world are in a serious drought and you may be more aware of the need to conserve water. If you have been accustomed to turning on the tap without a thought, this can be a big adjustment. It can be hard to let go of convenience, even when it saves the planet.
Then “they” tell you your clothing must be made from organic cotton, you can’t use the chemical laden household cleaners or your favorite laundry and skin care products. Your paint must have no VOCs, you need new Energy Star appliances and when the grocery store baggers ask “paper or plastic,” you have to tell them “Neither! I brought my own canvas bag!”
We haven’t even started on everything in your cupboard that has preservatives, BPA in the can lining or hydrogenated oils … much less your favorite brand of laundry detergent that contains phosphates, endocrine disrupters and a host of toxic chemicals. Did we mention the hormones, antibiotics and other medicines that end out polluting the water?
And now “they” say you need a compost pile, a worm bin and an integrated pest management plan for your lawn and garden. You can’t drive your SUV to haul all those supplies, and you better get knee pads so you can pull weeds yourself rather than spray an herbicide.
Help! Where does going green end?
Really, it almost doesn’t. When going green, we can always do more and do with less.
But in the words of the wise Pema Chödrön, “Start Where You Are.” You don’t have to go to extremes to start going green. We can all do many small eco-friendly things in our daily lives to help save our planet and keep our environment clean.
The most helpful change you can make starts with your attitude.
Does your frame of mind see going green as sacrifice? Giving up familiar things you love? If so, green living will always be a burden. Because none of us can always be perfect, you will always feel the green guilt. Or give up. Or rebel against it.
Shift your perspective just a little. Don’t mourn the habits and products you give up. Instead, step out of your head as if you are an neutral observer. Watch everything you do, everything you own and use. Then ask yourself,
“Do I really need this item? Does it really make my life better?”
“Do I really need to do this wasteful thing?”
“Is this simple green task so hard?”
“Is this eco-friendly product effective enough? Does it feel more fresh and natural?”
“Will my family and pets be more healthy with these natural, organic products?”
At some point, your perspective will shift to where you don’t feel imposed upon. You don’t feel like you’re giving anything up. You feel that polluting the Earth with all those toxic products and all that excess garbage is just not worth using them.
In that frame of mind, going green will become a smooth and easier process.
As you integrate new choices into your green lifestyle, you will find rewarding green behaviors and products that replace those old polluting items. You will look at all those wasteful and toxic opportunities in our society and wonder why they exist.
You may find that you willingly pay more for certain green items, but other replacements are free or much less costly. Life will become easier in many ways because your choices are so much more focused.
When your frame of mind embraces going green, you will feel the thrill of finding new eco-friendly behaviors that help make the planet and your personal environment a safer, cleaner happier place to live.
Just don’t become The Green Police!