So you’ve decided that you want to start going green. That’s so great!! But actually getting started is easier said than done. Where on earth does one even begin?! It can be really tough to dive into something new, so I’ve outlined 5 steps to get you started on your green journey, and (hopefully) make the transition a little easier!
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1. Why are you going green?
Stop and take a minute to think about this. Why are you going green in the first place? I know for me, one of the big pushes I had was watching a Facebook video of some divers pulling a plastic straw out of a sea turtle’s nose. I decided then and there that I wanted to limit the amount of single-use plastic I used every day.
For you the motivation will probably be different. If you want to reduce the amount of garbage you produce, maybe start by buying package free food and second hand items. Or if you’re concerned about preserving fresh water, take shorter showers. If you want to save money, start making your own cleaning products. You will probably have several reasons why you want to make the transition, but putting them into some kind of order will give you a place to start and a direction to go in.
2. Start slow
Seriously. Take your time. If you try to green your entire life all at once, you will get burnt out and just give up entirely. You will naturally gain momentum as you get going. Pick one thing you want to change and work on it constantly until it becomes a habit. Then move onto the next thing. In this way, you won’t get overwhelmed trying to change everything at once, and you ensure that you begin to form new, intentional habits that will stick. Remember that going green is a journey, not a destination.
3. Replace things with green alternatives only when they need replacing
This is a big one. At the end of the day, throwing something away that still has life left in it just to replace it with the “greener” alternative really doesn’t make any sense. If you can find homes for some of these things, then great, but otherwise, use it up.
A good example of this is when I moved into my current place, I had cleaning supplies, but the house also came with some. So when I got serious about starting to replace what I had with homemade cleaning supplies, I still had quite the collection of store-bought cleaners. So I posted them all online for free and someone came to get them.
Keep in mind that this person would have just gone out to purchase cleaners anyway, so no harm, no foul. At the same time, I decided to hold onto my plastic toilet brush. You don’t give something like that away, but there is still plenty of life left in it. One day I will replace the brush with a bamboo one, but not until it can’t be used anymore.
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4. Play around with alternatives
Just because something works for me, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Sometimes you have to try several methods or recipes before you find one that you really like. Please don’t just try one, not like it, and then give up. If nothing else, making and trying all these different things can be a lot of fun!
5. Above all, be gentle with yourself
You are literally swimming upstream here. You are fighting against years of ingrained habits, as well as constantly trying to ignore the ever present nudges from all around begging you to give in to consumerism.
You will “mess up”. You will forget to bring the reusable shopping bags and to ask for a drink with no straw. You will take a 45 minute shower after an insane day at work. And you know what? That’s OK. Because you will remember the shopping bags next time. And you will take a 2 minute shower tomorrow to make up for it.
At the end of the day, just don’t give up. Wanna know a secret? You will probably never be 100% zero waste (heaven knows I’m not even close), just because our world is not set up that way right now. But just keep trying. Because every time you make a conscious effort to reduce your waste, you ARE helping to save the world. And isn’t that why you’re doing it in the first place?
So what are your first steps going to be?
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