Things to Remember When You’re On An Eco-Living Journey

Changing your lifestyle isn’t something that happens overnight. Especially when you’re on an eco-living journey — it’s nearly impossible to be perfectly sustainable unless you’re living off the grid, away from all technology and making everything from scratch.

Guilt will set in when you forget to bring your reusable water bottle or need to get take-out food in disposable containers because you’re pressed for time. You’ll feel anxious about the state of the environment and discouraged when it seems too big to change. When everything seems too much, remember you’re not alone.

Nearly 9 in 10 people around the world want to learn to live more sustainably.

That means thousands of people just like you are putting in the legwork to be more eco-conscious. No doubt they’re looking for similar resources and facing similar struggles on their way to a greener future.

If you need a boost to keep going, this list is for you.

Keep these things in mind when on your eco-living journey

a woman carrying a reusable coffee mug and tote bag

1. Start with easy swaps

Little changes add up to big changes, so be sure to look at the little things you can replace in your daily routines. 

For example:

  • reusable tote bags for grocery shopping
  • beeswax wraps in place of plastic wrap
  • bar soaps instead of bottled body washes 
  • reusable sponge cloths instead of paper towels

There are so many little swaps you can make; see this list of Easy & Affordable Zero Waste Lifestyle Changes for more ideas. Keep in mind there’s no need to go all out with big changes if it’s not in your budget. Start small and work your way up from there.

2. Add new challenges at your own pace

Focus on one eco-living topic after another, educating yourself bit by bit. For example, this month you might tackle composting, getting into the habit of knowing what’s compostable and what’s not. Next month, you might take on your food freezing system: switching from plastic freezer bags to freezable containers. If you go cold turkey or juggle too many challenges at once, you may feel overwhelmed.

3. Reuse what you have, even if it’s not an eco-product

Stylish though it may seem, there’s no need to replace everything you have with eco-products. Sometimes the most sustainable thing you can do is to repair, upcycle, rent, donate, or swap what you’ve already got. Scuffed up your dresser too many times? Refinish it with some new stain or paint. Got a hole in your sweater? Sew it up. Want to change up your wardrobe? Plan a clothing swap with your friends.

a person preparing their table for repainting

4. Focus on your progress and don’t compare yourself to others

Social media is often a quick comparison trap. People tend to post the highlights on their feed, not the challenges they’re facing. 9 times out of 10, what’s shared online doesn’t show the whole picture. Your progress is your own and may look totally different from the person next to you. Working parents with kids on their eco-living journey will have a much different experience from a college student bunking with roommates. Both have their unique budgets, living situations, and resources available to them.

5. Set realistic goals for you

Give yourself time to make steady progress. Make your goals small and achievable to start. For example, replacing the lightbulbs in your home with LEDs. Far-fetched goals might discourage you when you don’t meet them fast enough. For example, switching to 100% renewable energy power for your home: getting solar panels on your roof might be a little too steep to start.

6. Wait a day before purchasing non-essentials when possible

Before you hit that ‘order’ button on your online shopping cart, give it a day. This simple rule helps you steer clear of impulse purchasing non-essentials. Chances are you’ll realize you didn’t need that new pair of sunnies when you have working ones at home already.

7. Look for inspiration from sustainable-living leaders

Surrounding yourself with role models and influential voices in sustainable living will keep you on track. There are so many ways to soak up information and educate yourself, whether that’s through books, podcasts, or YouTube videos. Check out these eco-living leaders we’ve rounded up for inspiration.

zero waste cleaning supplies including vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon

8. Get creative and find multi-purpose use for things

Baking soda isn’t only for baking, it’s a universal home-cleaning tool. Mix baking soda with vinegar, and you have a mixture for unclogging your drains and scrubbing down your oven. And that’s just the beginning. Baking soda’s fizzy action even polishes tarnished silver.

In your eco-living journey, you’ll find there’s more than meets the eye with other products you own. For example, olive oil can work as an eye makeup remover (depending on your skin type) or lubricant for squeaky door hinges. Seed paper is another example, as it’s both a paper product that doubles as a gardening gift you can grow into plants after.

9. Talk to friends and family about experience gifts

Even if you get to a place where you’re watching what you purchase, and making sustainable choices, the gifts your loved ones give you may be hard to say no to. If you’re hoping to create less waste around birthdays and special occasions, set an example for others by giving experience gifts they value and talking to them about what experience gifts you enjoy. As long as you chat about it in a kind, non-judgemental, encouraging way, others will be happy to join you!

10. Share ideas and encourage others

Be open about your eco-living journey with friends, family, and acquaintances. In sharing your process, progress, pitfalls, and roadblocks, you may find a community of people who are going through the same thing. These connections may encourage you to keep going and help lift some of the weight of expectations. And before you give anyone unsolicited advice about eco-living, or accept criticism from anyone about your eco-living journey, remind yourself that we all start somewhere, and it’s not about perfection, but progress instead.

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