Ways to Deal With Eco Guilt
A Vicious Cycle
When I first started learning about zero waste I will be the first to admit that I was a bit aggressive- I strictly followed zero waste and much to my family's annoyance would go as far as not eat at someplace / use or buy things / etc… if I could not do it plastic-free. While now I take a much more realistic and gentler approach, I find myself missing that extreme self-discipline my younger self carried. Whether that made a difference or just fulfilled a self-righteous belief - the point is zero waste can be hard.
The world is not designed to accommodate wanting to live sustainably...
My goal with sharing my struggles and experience with others is to show a side that I noticed often gets glossed over. How zero waste is portrayed is white backgrounds and glass jars and has become an unattainable perfectionist idea of what zero waste is “supposed to look like” rather than the messy, sometimes difficult rollercoaster of an unperfect journey it is. I consider myself a pretty optimistic person, and this is by no means to discourage anyone from zero waste, rather than to be an honest reflection.
Sometimes I feel lazy...
I too am a lazy human being who enjoys convenience, sometimes I just don't want to put in the extra effort to make things, and being a person who HATES to cook that poses a big problem for me in maintaining a zero-waste lifestyle. Then comes being bombarded with images and heartbreaking statistics on plastic and the environment, it is so easy to end up feeling hopeless and that it is a pointless losing battle. Not once in my nine years have I ever felt like striving to live zero waste is wrong or not the goal/ path I want to take. The complete opposite! I am incredibly passionate about this cause and aim to inspire and educate as many individuals on this issue so that we may collectively solve it. Being the optimist I am I feel that we humans can and will do better as more people are made aware and push governments and companies to change and innovate sustainable products. However I am human and therefore I get burned out, discouraged, lazy, and unmotivated. Sometimes I make poor choices and don't speak up when I should. These are all normal feelings that I don’t see discussed in the zero waste community, which I understand, zero wasters like any growing community or group want to spread the message - of course, you are going to show your best and all of the benefits!
The expected image…
We are bombarded by images of influencers portraying their best selves (nothing necessarily wrong with this, I find a lot of inspiration from beautiful images of living zero-waste) however I think it is also important to bring up the whole
I am proudly building a sustainable lifestyle brand and with that comes a certain image I feel I am expected to uphold. One of the things I pride myself on is my business transparency. My goal is to be upfront and connect with my audience- not be a know-it-all zero waste guru, but rather show both the aesthetically pleasing, beautiful aspects of zero waste living and the struggles that I face when trying to stick to my values.
Have to find balance. There is only a certain amount that you can do.
How do I deal with these feelings?
I feel incredibly guilty when I slip up, but these are some of the lessons I have learned over the years on how to deal with the guilt
- You can only do what you can do.
- Every moment is a new opportunity to do better.
- The quote “we don't need some people doing zero waste perfectly, we need many people doing zero waste imperfectly.”
- Yes, the system is flawed but don't use this as an excuse, you are part of the system so change your part but do not get caught up in a web of guilt over the things you can not control.
- Set small goals.