A big frustration I notice with people starting out on their sustainability journey (I experienced the same) is there’s just so much work to be done, so much to do. So it raises the question where do I even start? Just like any lifestyle change, it can feel intimidating, like a big hill to climb. Think about when someone is wanting to live a healthier life, they have to make changes like eating better and exercising regularly. Sustainable living is no different or more difficult than living a more healthy or positive life. It doesn’t change who you are but just makes you a better version of yourself. I understand this concept is new, sustainable living, though has gained popularity in recent years is not as well-known as other lifestyle changes one may make. It can feel super overwhelming, so I created a list of steps that I wish I would’ve had to start out my lifestyle change. These are the steps I took to ease myself into becoming an eco-queen / king.
1. Be In Control of the Algorithm and Follow People Who Live The Way You Want To
I started to follow a bunch of people on Instagram who were living the lifestyle (or at least something similar) that I wanted to. To do this, I looked up various hashtags like sustainable living, eco life, low waste living, etc., and had fun taking a look at all the different accounts (did the same on YouTube). Some of my role models or the people I first followed and still follow to this day who inspired me to keep going are listed below. I really liked their message of living sustainably imperfectly, and starting small, it took a lot of the pressure off for me.
New people that deserve a shoutout:
2. Understand Your Areas of Improvement
The next step I took was thinking about areas in my life that are wasteful and areas I can improve on. I think to learn how to live more sustainably you first have to understand what parts of your life can be improved, find your baseline. So, I sat down and I made a list in my phone notes, of all the areas in my life I produce waste or may not be super sustainable.
- Food waste
- Food packaging waste
- Plastic Straws
- Plastic bags
- Shipping packaging
One thing to prepare for as you’re learning more about eco-living is the more you educate yourself on where and how things are made you may find out about areas of your life that aren’t the most sustainable that you never thought were a problem in the first place. For example, when I started out my sustainable journey I did not know that the textile and fishing industry was super unsustainable. I only learned that as I continued on my journey and now that I know, I can change my behaviors to better align with my goals.
3. Set Weekly / Monthly Goals to Try & Reduce Your Waste or Change That Habit
Now that you know where the areas of improvement are you can slowly start towards improving them. I liked to dedicate a week or a month to trying to reduce my waste or change a habit. Some changes may be quick to pick up on and some may take more time. For example, switching to glass straws or reusable grocery bags took a couple of weeks to get the hang of (honestly though I still forget sometimes). Other things like composting or fighting my shopping addiction take more time. There are bigger hurdles there like learning new processes (composting) or overcoming mental hurdles. For composting, it took a lot of research and trial and error to figure out how it works. For my overconsumption of fashion (fast fashion), I had to spend a lot of time with myself and my therapist to undercover the real reasons behind why I overconsumed fashion. This is where the motto, doing sustainability imperfectly comes in.
You aren’t going to be able to do everything perfectly, so find what areas have some wiggle room for change and do that. This lifestyle change is very personal and will look different for everyone For some plastic straws might be something they can’t give up, but have been able to cut red meat out of their diet. It’s this very fun dance you get to play of finding how sustainability can be woven throughout your life and have it still feel like a life you enjoy!
I also found it helpful to reward myself. Each month after I created a new habit or changed a behavior I’d take myself out to eat at a vegan restaurant or buy myself a cool new sustainable toy such as reusable straws, or a sports bra made of plastic water bottles.
4. Start A Discussion
Now you have your goals, the best way to continue to live sustainably is to talk about it with your friends family, and peers. I’m now known as the eco-lady in my group because of my glass straws or reusable bags. Living this lifestyle will bring you attention, use that attention for good, to inspire or raise awareness about the issues that mean the most to you. When people comment on your glass straws, use that as an invitation to get a conversation going (also read the room, in a nightclub the right answer may just be, save the turtles). This way you can help shed light on the importance of living sustainably and maybe inspire others to do the same or learn something yourself. Most of my blog topics come from questions people ask me, so then I research the answers and always learn something new.
This lifestyle is one where you’re constantly being challenged and educated. You find where you fit in the pie of environmentalism and help make the planet a better place for all. I hope this helped. Where do you get stuck on your sustainable journey? Where are your points of frustration? Let me know in the comments, or message me on Instagram!