There’s a preconception that in order to live sustainably, you have to do so perfectly. That you have to make massive and drastic changes to have a significant impact on the environment. However, there are many reasons why this isn’t the case. Everyone has the power to make the difference, but ultimately, lots of people making small changes will have a bigger environmental impact than the noble few making huge sacrifices and shifting the way they live entirely.
A vital way you can make simple changes is by doing what you can with what you have. It is assumed that in order to live an eco friendly life, you need to be buying copious new products such as toothpaste tablets, shampoo bars and reusable loo roll. However brilliant these products are, if you’re binning all the products you already have to make way for shiny new sustainable products, this in itself is not sustainable, it’s wasteful. A better approach, which also happens to be beneficial in multiple ways is to finish the products you have, then move onto an eco alternative whilst being conscious about the waste you are creating. Think about how packaging can be reused and given a new life, whether its for storage, cleaning or whatever use you might find, giving products a new life and using the same things as much as we can, and then replacing them when we need to is both more eco friendly and cost effective.
It’s also important to keep in mind that enormous and sudden changes are harder to stick to. A small habit kept for life is significantly more impactful than a drastic habit kept for a week. For example, it is undeniable that a plant based diet is better for the environment than eating meat. And whilst veganism is the perfect lifestyle choice for some people, for others it simply isn’t maintainable. Switching one meal a week to a plant based choice, and sticking to this, is ultimately going to do more good than being a hardcore vegan for a week, and then giving up because the change was so overwhelming.
Whilst there are many changes we can all make that will undeniably be better for the planet, only you can know what’s actually practical and maintainable within your life. Making small changes is significantly better than making no change. Being perfect is impossible and striving for perfection is damaging and disheartening, so we should all just vow to be imperfectly sustainable. If you normally have a reusable shopping bag, but you left it at home and had to get a 10p plastic one, that’s okay. Because it’s the changes you DO make that count, not the changes that you can’t make because sometimes they are beyond your control. Be proud of the changes you can make, instead of feeling guilty about little mistakes or the things that you aren’t doing.