is eco-guilt holding you back?
It’s a beautiful fall day. You’ve biked into town to pick up some groceries at a local shop, restock on foundation and refill your deodorant at portia-ella, and pick up a new sweater from a beautiful new consignment boutique down the road. On the way back to your bike, you pass a coffee shop and are suddenly struck with a latte craving—perfect timing. As you wait in line to order, a sad sinking feeling creeps up: you forgot your reusable coffee mug at home and will have to opt for disposable again. Although it’s such a minor flaw in your day, you can’t help but feel guilty and disappointed; you were so close to perfection.
This is eco-guilt.
Well-intentioned public figures, influencers, and even those in our personal lives, can portray eco-friendly lifestyles in an unattainable way, and sometimes, this can take the form of shame towards those who can’t comply perfectly with the “rules”. Even when we want to make a difference, being overwhelmed by opinions on what we could do better can be downright discouraging, and often, we’re left feeling powerless. In addition to the stress we undoubtedly feel concerning the future, how can we feel anything but constrained when we're living each day as though someone is judging our every choice? The mountain looks too steep to climb.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can make a difference without being perfect. One of portia-ella’s values, just as important to us as ethics and healthy ingredients, is acceptance and the unapologetic freedom to try to do our bests. No matter how sustainable your lifestyle and habits currently are, whatever you can and are doing is so valued, and it’s so important to remember and celebrate that.
We know that only holding space for perfection, not progress, doesn’t result in healthy behaviours. And even if we could be “perfect”, would we even be able to sustain it? The solution we choose should be one we can feel hopeful about, one we look forward to implementing.
3 strategies to make sustainable living, sustainable
- set healthy boundaries. Begin by recognizing what you can do right now, and what is currently beyond your limits. Defining these parameters is so freeing! It clarifies where your focus is and helps keep comparison at bay. You’re aiming to be the most sustainable within those boundaries, everything is out of your control, and that’s a beautiful thing to recognize.
- plan ahead. Planning provides a multitude of benefits. Not only does it help us consume more mindfully and prevent material waste, it saves on resources and energy spent on errands, deliveries, and shipping, while also offering us more opportunities to implement the sustainable habits we are focussed on. Knowing when we’ll need restocks of our favourite products and our and our families’ needs and cravings serve as reminders to bring the reusable cups, straws, a tote or two, and the peace of mind that we are enough as we are.
- set realistic goals for the future. Once these initial habits become second nature, that’s when we’re truly ready to implement more. Make it fun, challenge yourself, and revel in an entirely new season of discovery. This can include researching, learning, and experimentation, but rather than these new habits being formed through fear and guilt, they will be rooted in hope and knowledge and are much more likely to be sustainable for the coming years.