Climate change and plastic pollution are overwhelming.
Big global issues cannot be changed by one person or one action. So should you even bother?
Climate anxiety is on the rise as is anxiety in general and it’s hardly surprising given our constant updates about large scale global issues. With smartphones in our hands all day, we’ve never had access to so much information and so many opinions. It can feel like anything we do is just a drop in the ocean and won’t make any real difference.
But, as a fundraiser I know how even the smallest things can have incredible impact.
If you are overwhelmed, one small action is better than total inaction.
We need to feel as though we have some control and the only thing you can ever really control is your own behaviour.
The best thing you can do is to make changes that suit your life. There have been a couple of occasions where I’ve spent more than I can afford to buy the more eco friendly version of a product. Over time, this would really hurt my budget and since I have absolutely no plans to go back into debt, I have to make sure that I am sticking to what I can afford and to make the best environmental choice within that price range. We can’t do everything, we can only do what we can afford with the time, money and energy that we have.
Honestly, for some people thinking about sustainability isn’t even an option and that is ok. If you are struggling, you are not responsible for cleaning up this mess that was created by big business and the wasteful 1%.
In saying that, I do think it’s important for your happiness and wellbeing to take action when you care about something.
Stick to some key principles and don’t beat yourself up if you slip up:
- Use what you have
- When you make a purchase, try to opt for the product that will last the longest and create the least waste
- Only buy things that you absolutely love and know you will make you feel great
- Borrow things you only need once in a while
What I have found is that one small action starts a chain reaction.
The biggest change is the mindset shift that happens over time.
How many sustainability bloggers woke up one morning and decided out of nowhere to go vegan and live a zero waste lifestyle? I’m going to go out on a limb and say none.
When we take a even a small step in the right direction (whether that’s towards veganism, zero waste, debt repayments or whatever) we are opening ourselves up to a growth mindset.
When I first learned about the people in the debt free community living super frugally, I thought they would regret it come retirement. Now, I’m making more and more changes towards that because I’m learning so much as I go along.
Your first change, however small, becomes your new normal and then it becomes the foundation for the next change.
Other people will become interested in what you are doing and start to make changes themselves.
People are curious and when they see you refusing plastic cultery and busting out your own from your bag, the will ask why. This presents you with a perfect opportunity to share some of the things you’ve learned and what you’ve been doing about.
However (as any vegan will tell you!) people are often not crazy about hearing new ways of living. You may come up against people thinking you are silly, or being ‘a bit extra’. Just shrug it off and take no notice.
People are largely more comfortable with the status quo and doing what ‘everyone else’ is doing so when they see individuals going against the grain and doing something different, they can become uncomfortable.
Remember, you weren’t born thinking the way you do, and it likely took you a while for the messages to sink and for you to change your behaviours.
Most people are doing the best they can from day to day. And for the majority of us, financial education wasn’t a thing at school and neither was sustainability or mental health awareness. Concepts like living zero waste and being totally debt free are not mainstream so even if you have been immersed in something and part of an incredible online community where you have been learning a lot you need to remember that that’s not the case for everyone in your life.
A few tips for dealing with friends, family or colleagues when you are starting to live in a way that feels alien to them.
- Resist the temptation to evangelise
- Talk about the positive impact the changes you made have had on your life/relationship/wellbeing/health
- If they ask questions, answer them and provide resources like blogs, books, podcasts and social media accounts they might find interesting
- If they challenge you, respond patiently and calmly
- Inspire them to try things out
- Understand that they may not stick with it
- Congratulate them on whatever they did manage to do