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How To Find Your Green Lifestyle Without Losing Your Mind

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I stopped on a story by Earth911 titled “How To Deal With Recycling Guilt”.  It screamed at me!

Did a study just come out saying recycling was bad or a waste of time?

Am I doing my part, is what I’m doing good enough?

What am I doing wrong?

I certainly don’t feel guilty for recycling but I often feel what I’m doing just isn’t enough.  Do you ever feel this way, about anything?

I just finished researching and writing my post about the magnitude of Plastic Pollution and it all seems like gloom and doom, can a single person’s green lifestyle be enough to effect change?

Can one person really have a big enough impact?

“No one can do everything but everyone can do something”  – Max Lucado.

I find that when I start reading about a particular issue, I get tunnel vision and it’s really all I can focus on.

That’s when I know it’s time to take a moment to breathe, think about what I’ve learned, assess my current situation, decide where I want to go and then figure out how to realistically get there.

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Finding My Green Lifestyle

Take for instance produce.  When I first became pregnant with our son, I became laser focused on what I was eating.

It wasn’t enough that I had to maintain my own health but now I was also growing a new person and good grief, I didn’t want to screw this up.

I educated myself on the dangers of pesticides and fertilizers used to grow produce and decided that organically grown produce was the best choice for me.

One trip to the grocery store and it was easy to figure out eating all organic produce was going to be crazy expensive.

Could we really afford this?  Even if we could afford it, I wasn’t actually able to find the organic version of everything so did that mean I’d have to go without some of my favorites?

At that point, I compared what my produce choices were against the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 lists and settled on buying the organic variety of Dirty Dozen produce.

Learn more about the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 and why I’ll always choose organic produce.

Produce is somewhat easy because it’s consumed fairly quickly.

When you look at something like personal care items, making a change could take a bit more time only because if you just started that new 64oz. bottle of shampoo from Costco, I’m not sure you’d want to just throw it out.

My suggestion with things like this is to finish what you’ve already started and then when the time comes, replace with a better option.

Trying to make too many changes all at once could cause you to become way too overwhelmed and give up.

When it’s time to go through your make-up stash and get rid of products containing all the harmful chemicals, it could cost you an arm and a leg to make those swaps.

Your budget can more easily handle one thing at a time.   Spend this time researching better alternatives and coming up with your plan to your personal green lifestyle.

I find that when I make changes more slowly, they are more likely to stick long term.

How To Find Your Green Lifestyle Without Losing Your Mind - Finding Our Green Life: Finding your personal green lifestyle can take time, lasting change doesn't happen overnight.

How To Find Your Green Lifestyle

If you’re new to recycling at home, it will probably take a conscious effort to get started.   Don’t they say it takes 21 days to form a habit?

Unless your dealing with a toddler and then, good luck!  Anyway, if you have curbside pick up, first determine what will be picked up and then decide what you can commit to tossing in to a different bin.

Maybe you could start with the kitchen and focus on consistently diverting those recyclables from the trash to the recycling bin.  Once you’ve mastered the kitchen, next look at the bathroom and so on.

Don’t let yourself become too overwhelmed, change doesn’t happen overnight.  Stop for a minute and give yourself credit for all the things you’ve done along your journey to a greener, healthier lifestyle.

If you’re only just starting out, feel good about your decision to educate yourself on the impact harmful chemicals have on your health and that of our planet.

Think about three things that are most important to you and decide what you’re going to do to make a change for the better.  Maybe you’re trying to eat a healthier diet.

Look in your fridge and see what produce you have in there.  Figure out what’s on the Dirty Dozen list and decide if your budget can bear switching to organic.  Honestly, if you can’t afford all of them (and who can?), just those that you eat the most of.

What’s going to have the biggest impact for you?  Once you have successfully settled in to your first new routine, what do you want to tackle next?

Maybe you’re further along so take a few minutes to write down the changes you’ve made.

When you see it all in writing, you’ll realize you are having an impact.  Once you see the progress you’ve made, do you want to dig deeper or move on to another area of your life?

Give yourself credit for the good things you are doing and make a plan to improve in some other areas.

Give Yourself A Pat On The Back

Every now and again, we need to pause and review where we are and where we are headed.  I don’t know about you but I spend alot of time focusing on where I have fallen short rather than what I have accomplished.

It’s not an all or nothing deal.  When I first got started on this journey, yes, I eased my way in to things, if for no other reason than I was learning as I went.  Moving towards a greener, more environmentally friendly lifestyle is 100% an evolution.  As Maya Angelou said, “when you know better, you do better”.

Where are you along your journey?  What can you take a moment to give yourself credit for?  Share it with me in the comments, I’d love to cheer you on!  Lord knows we all need some positive encouragement and together, we will make HUGE CHANGE!














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    1. It truly can be as overwhelming as you let it be. Everything is more manageable and works better when broken down in to smaller chunks. Thanks Becky!

  1. All we can do is try to do better! Thanks for the reminder to leave the anxiety out of this one 🙂

    1. Thanks! You’re right, all we can do is try. Some things will work and some won’t, everyone’s lifestyle is different.

    1. Absolutely! It’s so easy to become overwhelmed. Once I get overwhelmed, I can go in to shut down mode.

  2. Recycling has been a routine habit at my house for many years. It is not hard to figure out what needs to be divided into different bins and then put out with the weekly trash pick up. Increasingly industry is finding they need to lead us in the right direction for disposing “stuff”. Recently my local trash disposal company said they would not pick up yarn waste in plastic garbage bags because the bags were gumming up the works at the landfill. We are now required to use paper bags sold at Home Depot instead. A new habit acquired without too much trouble!

    My husband folds all the plastic bags we acquire in on shopping trips into tiny triangles that are then accumulated until he can dispose of them in the plastic bag recycling bins placed in front of most grocery stores. Maybe viewed as a waste of time but he is doing his part, his way!

    In Europe there are huge recycling bins for the disposal of glass bottles, particularly wine bottles and fines if you are found not to comply. These bins are often found at sports fields. Reusable grocery bags are another habit overseas that we are now seeing more of in the U.S.

    I like your article about forming habits and not getting overwhelmed with thoughts of not doing enough. Any effort in the right direction is worth it and if more folks did think about how to prevent polluting our environment then we would have a discernible impact.

    1. Plastic bags lead to big problems in the processing plants. Great job on recycling the plastic bags! If he doesn’t mind doing it and the plastic is winding up in the right place, it’s definitley a useful effort!

  3. Heather!!! Wonderful article!!! So, I just got an email today from our County Environmental Manager. He said he would love for me to be at the Board of Supervisors meeting Monday as they are making a decision on our curbside recycling. He said I would be very pleased with the results!!! YES!!!! I am so thrilled as I am helping bring DeSoto County, MS into the 21st Century!

    1. I’ve been wondering how that initiative was going. I’m calling you Tuesday to hear the outcome! YAY, you’re making a huge difference!

  4. It’s true that it can quickly become overwhelming! Slow adjustments are better for me too. It’s an inspiring article! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by and reading 🙂 I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that gets overwhelmed by these things.

    1. Thanks for reading! I always have to remind myself, baby steps are sustainable. King Kong steps always fall apart.

  5. It definitely does take some work at first (even if it’s just simply remembering to do it). I’ve been recycling for a few years now which is great, but that’s about all I’ve been doing. I moved to Seattle earlier this year (very eco-friendly and conscious city) and have made bigger changes. They actually charge for plastic and paper bags in the city limits, which definitely encourages bringing your own reusable bags.

    Thanks for the great tips 🙂

    1. I’ve often wondered about charging for bags vs. giving a credit. Do people respond better to penalties or incentives? Thanks for stopping by and reading 🙂

  6. I’ve switched over to all non toxic personal care products. At first, I made a few changes, but then I just couldn’t not make a complete switch!

    1. Amy, I couldn’t agree more. It becomes a rabbit hole of sorts. You learn a bit, then a bit more and before you know it your conscious makes it hard to not change. Fortunately or unfortunately, we can’t unlearn things 🙂

  7. This is great! I always tell my friends to take it easy and that every little bit helps and does count. It took me almost 10 years to to get to where I am now and I’m still nowhere near living completely nontoxic and green, and that is really unlikely anyway. It’s so easy to feel defeated and some unfortunately do experience guilt and shaming 🙁

    1. Thanks Dee! I’m right there with you, a little is always better than none and if you are a person who can live completely green, that’s great but if you’re like the rest of us who are just doing the best we can, that’s just as great!

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