It’s been years since Gavin and I have been trying to reduce our environmental impact. Literally years. It started with me falling down a zero-waste rabbit hole after a bizarre encounter with a lady on a bus (which I detail in this post if you’re intrigued). And I can honestly say that in the beginning, I thought that by now I would be some kind of eco-chic green goddess. Living a perfectly labelled glass jar life with perfectly sustainable choices being made at every move. Spoiler alert: That’s not how things have turned out. And attempting to live to green, for me, has proven quite a stressful journey.
I once read a quote online that went like this:
“Sustainability is like teenage sex. Everybody says they’re doing it, very few people actually are doing it. Those that are doing it are doing it badly.” (generally credited to Australian architect Andrew Maynard).
I laughed out loud (actually laughed out loud) when I first read this. And it brought to mind the Instagram feed I had curated of perfectly zero waste, ethically minded Instagram stars. Much like any kind of Instagram to real life comparison, when I stepped back and looked at my life, it didn’t look like that. Sure, I have made changes in the right direction, but I still wasn’t doing it right. And the guilt would set in. Team that with the blame culture we see all too often online of calling out people for not making the most ‘ethical’ or ‘environmentally conscious’ choice and I was feeling deflated.
Here I am making an effort and it’s still not, in the eyes of some, considered ‘good enough’. I still eat meat (albeit less often), I travel for work (although I choose to offset that mileage), I order Gousto meals on the weeks that the schedule is too overwhelming to add dinner to the to-do list and my husband has expressed that he doesn’t like my hippie glass jar toothpaste and has reverted back to good old Colgate.
There are many things I’ve found incredibly easy to implement like ditching plastic water bottles and coffee cups for reusables, swapping hand soap dispensers for soap bars and switching to a green energy supplier. And yet, here I am, listing all of these as if it should bring me some kind of validation that I’m being green.
But recently, in conversation with my friends, almost every single one of them mentioned feeling guilt at the thought of how much they’re doing or not doing for the environment. I believe the term eco-anxiety has been coined. And whilst I wouldn’t go as far as to say that my own guilt and feeling of inadequacy about green living has given me anxiety… I would definitely say that attempting to make the best choices I can for my family, time, budget, health and the environment causes me stress. A little hum of guilt every time I forget my KeepCup and get the takeaway hot chocolate anyway. Every time I unpack the plastic wrapping from my groceries.
In a time where everywhere we turn, there’s media screaming about climate change and plastic pollution. Coupled with the world of online influencers and curated (often) fake perfect lifestyles. Is anyone else feeling the pressure placed on us, the consumer? Rather than the companies that are responsible for colossal levels of waste?
I realise that this is not a light and easy breezy post. But I also realise that we have an incredibly intelligent readership and that these cultural issues do not go over your heads. So maybe I’m not alone in feeling stressed out by the expectation of green living?