Written By: Tianna Mair
Edited By: Morgan Pankarican
Designed By: Jiya
Published By: Miriam Alonge Wato
We’ve all been there. You watch a sad movie about the dying polar bears, Wall-E, or how we humans are single-handedly destroying the earth and you come to the realization that you need to change your whole life. You research how to be more sustainable and end up buying a bunch of things you don’t need. Now, you are out $300 and have no clue what to do with all the stuff you bought.
It can be hard, changing your whole life to try to fight against something that feels inevitable. Feeling like the weight of fixing the world is on your shoulders when there isn’t a whole lot you can do to change the fate of our world quickly.
It’s valid. It is impossible to fix climate change, or clean up the oceans all by yourself. Furthermore, it will be more impossible if you suffer from eco burn out.
In order to stop the overwhelming and draining feeling of eco burn out, here is a simple guide to ease yourself into living more sustainably.
Step one: Remember you can’t do everything
I know you want to take on the world and jump right into a sustainable life, but it isn’t realistic. It is MORE sustainable to take it one step at a time. Even slightly sustainable is better than not sustainable at all.
Step two: You don’t have to spend a lot of money
I too have suffered from the effects of greenwashing and the green tax. Where big companies will slap a bunch of eco friendly signs onto some not-so eco friendly things and mark up the price by $5 in order to make some extra cash.
Sometimes, being sustainable means using up the things you have. You don’t need a bamboo hair brush if you have a plastic one that already works great. Don’t go out and buy bar soap if you already have 3 bottles of soap that need to be used. All of the actual eco-friendly things can happen once you have used up everything else you have.
Step three: RECYCLE!
Keep. Every. Container.
Re-use old peanut butter jars, mason jars, tote bags, anything you have! You never know when a container is going to come in handy. And no, I’m not saying hoard all of your trash, obviously some things need to be thrown out, but if you even remotely think an old container can come in handy, put it in a cupboard until you need it! This way you are saving money and the planet at the same time!
Tip: for all of you jewelry wearers out there, I find those little Advil/Tylenol containers with the child lock are the PERFECT size for things such as rings and earrings. You can plop your jewelry in there when you go travelling, or when you just need a safe place to store them!
Step four: You can keep some non-eco friendly things
I know this sounds contradictory, but this step is the most important in keeping that burnout far away. Some things we just get used to and can’t see them leaving our life any time soon. For me, I am very loyal to the toothpaste I use. Yes it’s not the most eco friendly, it comes in a tube that definitely can’t get recycled and who knows what kind of ingredients are in there that aren’t the best for our water systems but right now I cannot find a good alternative. So, in order to keep some sanity and also the motivation to be more eco-friendly, I keep my toothpaste. Obviously it is not the most ideal situation, but trying to be sustainable in most aspects of your life is the most important.
Step five: Find your favourites
I am a brand loyal person, when I find something I like I stick to it and never switch. For me this meant finding the eco-friendly things I liked and sticking to it. Find a favourite water bottle (for those of you with funky tasting tap water, I recommend the brita bottle), bar of soap, or shampoo. By finding things you love, you will enjoy using those products so much more and you can even recommend them to friends or family!
Step six: Try to shop local
By shopping local, I do mean your local walmart. Sometimes you can’t find a cute refillery, or zero-waste store near you but that’s OK! Shipping causes TONS of awful emissions for the environment, and even though driving and shopping at mass corporations isn’t all that better, sometimes that’s all you can do. I do have some of my favourite zero-waste stores online. If you do buy online make sure to bulk-buy so you don’t have to order so often! Every so often, take that extra road trip to a refillery (and fill all those awesome containers you saved up with fun smelling sustainable soaps). Anyways, if you can shop locally, do it! iIf there is a local small business that’s even better! By supporting your local small shops you are being eco friendly and also not supporting large corporations that are damaging the environment more than you ever could by purchasing single use plastics.
Step seven: Patience
Being sustainable will not happen overnight, and it shouldn’t. As much as the media is pushing that we have x number of years until things are irreversible, and that we need to change NOW! It is simply impossible, and unrealistic. Have patience and take things slowly. Dip your toes into the water, make easy simple switches and once you are ready to make bigger ones, then you should do it. By taking the smaller steps though, you are allowing yourself to adapt to a new way of living and it will make the whole experience so much more enjoyable.
All in all, sustainability can be hard. But don’t forget we are all in this together and every small action you take helps the earth we share. Even tiny things like picking up a piece of litter on your way to work, or not running the tap while you brush your teeth, these small acts help more than you may think. If we all take a couple of steps towards sustainability then that will equate to massive change.
Below I have attached links to sustainable websites and products that I personally love, but I encourage you to do your research to find places that YOU love! Best of luck on your journey.