Most of us who are trying - on a daily basis - to reduce our footprint know it can be super challenging at times. On top of having to physically and mentally maintain eco-conscious habits that aren't always convenient, we're constantly bombarded with perfect zero waste pictures on social media. Sometimes it feels like you just can't measure up to your zero waste goals while "so-and-so" on Instagram is doing it effortlessly. Of course, we all know we have to take Instagram's glossy shots with a grain of salt (right?!).
Let's get REAL.
Let's talk about zero waste guilt. How healthy is it to feel negatively when we "fail" in our efforts to live sustainably? Can it actually be a good thing? Or does it only hinder our eco-living growth?
We asked Meera Jain of The Green Mum to weigh in, "I think there is a delicate balance between the kind of guilt that motivates you and that which prohibits you. I used to feel extremely guilty about my lack of action in many facets of the eco-friendly lifestyle. Now that I have made some significant changes, I no longer experience this guilt. There is no denying that it can be the driver of change!" So if the key is to allow ourselves to feel some guilt in order to propel change, how do we find a balance and progress without being so hard on ourselves? We all know where we can personally improve in our efforts to live more green, so setting small, manageable goals is a great way to tackle this. Literally write a list of realistic changes - or habits you want to adopt - in the course of the next 3 months and take action. When you begin feeling guilty about something that isn't on your list, remind yourself you are making changes and be proud of that. If you keep feeling the same guilt over a specific thing, look at editing your list because maybe that 'change' is more important than other items.
And remember that everyone who is on this journey encounters moments they wouldn't want to post on their Instagram feed! Jain adds, "You have probably heard of the saying “progress over perfection”. I try and adopt it as my daily mantra. It’s okay to feel twinges of guilt when you forget your reusable coffee cup at home, or you order takeout in plastic because you just can’t muster up the energy to get a meal together. But to hang onto these kinds of things does no one any good. It’s far better to focus your attention on what you are doing and channel that negative energy towards other eco-initiatives!"