It’s Not Easy Being Green

Lately, I’ve been struggling to find motivation. Whether it be to exercise, to cook proper meals, or to go out and socialise – it just hasn’t been coming easily. Lack of motivation is something we all battle sometimes, but recently it’s been creeping in to places I don’t want it to. As much as I hate to admit it, my energy and drive for sustainable living has also taken a hit. I’m assuming (and hoping) that this is something a lot of our readers can relate to from time to time. While I commit to making my best efforts and have changed a lot of my consumer behaviour in the interest of being more eco-conscious, it can be hard to give it 100% at all times.

We have days when we’re all guns blazing, we have days when we don’t do enough, and we have days when we don’t do anything. I’m not encouraging you to do less than you know you can do, but please don’t get discouraged by where you aren’t completely perfect! Something will always be better than nothing. Unless it’s, y’know, scabies or something. You get what I’m trying to say.

After acknowledging and accepting how I’ve been feeling about all this, I put a bit more consideration into why this may be happening, and how I could make it better. I’d like to share these thoughts with you, just in case you need a bit of reassurance or encouragement for your own greenie journey. I’d also like to preface this by saying that it is going to sound a bit negative and/or depressing in places, but I believe it’s important to be honest about the hurdles we encounter. If we don’t talk about it, we can’t find a solution!

The problem is too big, and I am too little

Ah yes, this old chestnut. It’s a thought that often gets me down. Something that got up my nose recently was finding out that a lot of companies are replacing tea towels and dish cloths in shared staff areas with disposable ones. Many businesses will explain that there are hygiene concerns associated with having many people sharing these items, which I don’t entirely disagree with, but I can’t help but think it’s a cost saving initiative more than anything. There is considerable expense in having shared towels and cloths professionally laundered, and this can be avoided by buying cheap cloths or paper towels and throwing them out once they’re soiled. While it might be easing pressure on the company wallet, it’s only further contributing to the harming of our environment. In the interest of having more money or making more profit, many businesses will choose cutting costs over considering the planet. I guess it’s things like this that really exemplify the larger systemic issues that we are up against. I look at it and think, “I’m trying so hard, but can’t possibly fight against this!”. It can be a real motivation killer.

It seems like there’s been so much environmental damage done so quickly, and now we are virtually helpless to reverse it. Without sounding too pessimistic, there is some truth to that. It’s kind of like being on a little boat with a group of people, and the boat starts sinking. It’s taking on water quickly, and you’re bailing it out as fast as you jolly well can… But everyone else on board is just sitting back and watching you. You’re never going to win that way! If everyone picked up a bucket and started helping, it’s going to be much more effective. So, while you may only be doing little bits here and there that don’t seem to stack up against the larger issues, you’re still doing something beneficial. Team all of your little things up with everyone else’s, and that’s where we start seeing the difference.

It’s expensive

This one is quite relative. There is the assumption that buying eco-friendly brands and products comes with a much heftier price tag, which can be both correct and incorrect. It depends on a few things:

  • Accessibility – If you live in cities or bigger towns, you’re going to have easier access to the larger chain supermarkets, where stuff is always available at low prices. If you’re in a more isolated place or live rurally, maybe you only have regular access to smaller, family owned stores. In that situation, not only are you going to have less choice of products, they will often be more expensive for you.
  • The product – I find that eco-friendly household products like cleaning supplies, laundry powder, toilet paper, and tissues don’t cost me any extra at all. They’re pretty much always on special somewhere and haven’t added more to my grocery bill. For me, the biggest expenses in my weekly shopping are the meat-free and dairy-free alternatives that I buy. These products are a bit pricier and, since becoming an enviro-vegan, I’ve noticed an increase in my grocery spending by about $15 a week. It’s not essential to my diet to buy these items, I just like them.
  • Priorities – If you are super into organic or locally grown stuff, then you aren’t going to mind the extra couple of dollars here and there. If those sorts of things aren’t that important to you personally, it’s just going to seem like an unnecessary expense.

For me, I’ve chosen to eat a vegan diet to be a little more helpful to the planet. It’s important to me, so I’ve made a couple of little sacrifices like less takeaway food and coffee – things I can do without anyway. That frees up a little more in my budget that can be spent at the supermarket. It’s also pretty crucial to remember that we, as consumers, drive the market. If there’s an increase in demand for environmentally savvy products, we will see more of them at more affordable prices.

I get criticised

Yeah, this one isn’t really any fun. First of all, I am my own worst critic – something I know a lot of people can understand. For example, in the previous paragraph I was talking about money and budgeting. I feel quite uncomfortable writing about things like that, and I don’t believe that it’s always as easy as “just cutting back” on other things. The truth is, being able to choose to be an eco-consumer, and have access to all of these alternative products, makes me very privileged. An awful lot of people don’t have the resources, the money or the choices. I find myself getting stuck in a loop of wanting help and encourage others, but feeling like I’m imposing too much of my own standards and privilege on them.

Then, there’s the external criticism. When new people find out about this blog and what we do, they often ask questions, which is great! Most people genuinely want to learn and know what it’s all about, which we love. Unfortunately, it isn’t like that with everyone. Some seem to almost take offence by it, as if a vote for sustainable living is somehow a vote against their own choices. They’ll become very defensive, start pointless arguments, or just straight out mock you. Maybe it’s the perception that greenies/vegos/vegans are just trying to claim the moral high ground that puts people off sometimes, I’m unsure. But it can be very demoralising, and also plain hurtful! I feel a bit like a whiney kid mentioning it, but I wanted to because I know plenty of people who have been on the receiving end of it. Obviously, this sort of thing is harder to tackle and will probably always exist to some extent, so trying to present a solution is a little difficult. Be assured that you aren’t doing anything wrong by believing in and talking about this stuff, and if someone is trying to make you feel otherwise, then the problem is theirs. I’m reminded of a semi-applicable quote from poet Sir Walter Scott – “Ridicule often checks what is absurd, and fully as often smothers that which is noble.”


So, there it all is! Going out of your way to make sustainable choices, be they big or small, is an awesome thing to do. It may not always be easy and you might make the odd mistake, but your effort and good intentions are the most important things. Thank you for bearing with me though this one, I really hope it helps anyone who might be feeling a little unmotivated. We all hit a slump sometimes, we just gotta help each other through it!

Thanks, team.

Blick


header image via http://www.imagefully.com/green-apple-sad-clip-art/

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