Sometimes, we have all the good intentions in the world and invest a lot of money in things that we think may help us live more sustainably.
But in some cases, it doesn’t work out quite as planned.
The reasons for this can be many but in the research I’ve done for my university degree, I’ve noticed that there are certain things people tend to do when “greening up their lives” that may not be so sustainable after all.
This list is to help you identify these mistakes and nip them in the bud before you make them yourself.
And if you have already – don’t worry. I’ve been there too and still make these mistakes from time to time.
1. Rewarding yourself after going sustainable
This is not automatically a bad thing. Rewards are good and if they help you keep your promises of a changed lifestyle for longer, then I’m all for it.
But what I don’t support is when this reward in itself is something unsustainable that sort of “offsets” the good effects of what you did.
An example would be booking a flight somewhere to reward yourself for not having shopped any new clothes the past month.
Remember: rewards are not bad but they should not be used as an excuse to behave any way you’d like.
So, what do I mean by rebounding?
In this case, rebounding comes from the Rebound Effect which is when one action (for example purchasing an electric car) has a negative effect (driving much more than you did before because now, it’s more sustainable).
Another example would be to leave your lights on for longer because you just exchanged all your old bulbs to LED-lights.
3. Going at it alone
Sometimes, doing things on your own can be empowering, but in worst case, it could lead to you getting sick of it in the end and not sticking with it.
If you’ve decided to change an aspect of your life to become greener – say, going zero-plastic – check among your friends and family if someone is willing to do the same.
If you do something together, chances are you’ll have more fun! You can call and remind one another why you’re doing what you’re doing and sharing tips etc.
4. Living in a bubble
There’s this great book that I read a little while ago (in Swedish) that is called Klimatpsykologi (Climate Psychology) and it brings up a lot of issues people are confronted with when wanting to change their lifestyle.
It brought up the idea of people tending to live lives separate from each other and having this notion of “it starts with me” in a way.
And while it is true that we all should do what we can in our homes and our daily lives, the authors of this book reminded me not to forget that the largest impact you could have is to stop pretending that the outside world doesn’t exist and instead focus your energy outward rather than inward.
This could mean stop fussing about perfecting your zero-waste-plan in your home and instead join a group that aims toward having an impact on politics in your country by organizing demonstrations on the streets and petitions.
We don’t live in a vacuum; we live in a society and it desperately needs you.
5. Rushing into it
Nothing is wrong with a bit of excitement but sometimes it can lead to unsustainable habits. Like throwing away all your unused plastic-things at once to exchange them for wooden ones.
Instead, opt for swapping out things gradually when they’re worn out.
Also, try to get as much as you can second hand if possible. There are already so many things out there and we don’t need a bunch of new things (this especially goes for clothes).
6. Thinking that it’s all or nothing
I’ve mentioned this in a previous post but doing something goes a long way and no one can be perfect. Stop putting that kind of pressure on yourself and take it one step at a time.
Do what you can and always strive toward doing better.