Have you ever wanted to start following a green life style…but you’re not sure if it’s right for you? That it is eccentric behaviour better left to people with lots of time or money, and that your busy life can’t ever fit the exacting requirements of green living? Have you on occasion tried making more green choices in your life, only to quit a few weeks later, and feel guilty about it? If so, I have good news for you.
A green lifestyle can suit absolutely everyone, because it’s not one single lifestyle. It’s not true that you have to drastically change how you do everything you do in life to ‘go green’. Living green is just being yourself…it’s being the best version of yourself that there can possibly be. The kind of person who can juggle all of the myriad problems life throws at them, like day-jobs, school, kids, weddings, taxes and midwinter monsoons, without resorting to over-indulging on our planetary resources, or destroying our planet.
Here are five quick tips on how to get started.
1. Don’t do it all at once
This one may seem silly, but it is very important. Do not ever try to say something like this: “Starting tomorrow, I will walk or bicycle to my office, stop buying plastic, throw out chemical disinfectants and insecticides, start my own vegetable patch with twenty types of vegetables, switch to led lights only, and basically live green.” This is a great way to live green – for a week. After which you’ll give up because it’s outright exhausting.
Most of us have pretty regular routines that we’ve been following for a long time. When you change your routine, you need to do so carefully. Do things one at a time. If you want to bicycle to work; try out the trip some weekend and see if you find it too hard. If you do, you’ll need to build up your fitness before you attempt that, because you can’t start a whole day at work feeling like you could use a nap and a shower. Could you maybe take a bus, until you’ve improved your fitness levels? Think about alternatives. There’s nothing wrong with building up to your life choices slowly. You didn’t build your career in a week, why would you try to build a new lifestyle in such a hurried and haphazard way?
2. Make a well thought out plan
That brings me to my second point…plan your lifestyle modification! Do you need to give up bug-repellent and insecticides? First research all of the alternatives. For example there are mosquito traps that use CO2 to lure mosquitoes into a trap, pest-o-flash-type traps meant for killing bugs that are attracted to light, ‘mosquito bats’ that electrocute mosquitoes, and a whole range of nets to simply keep the bugs away. More innovative insect control could involve anything from buying a pet chicken, to cooking up your own repellent from the billions of recipes online. Whatever it is you choose to do, research it in detail first, preferably from several sources.
Keep in mind that the cost of something may be more harmful than helpful; you could use funds that would cover one large eco-friendly project, on several smaller projects, that may have greater effect. I would suggest leaving larger projects like installing solar panels, or bio gas plants to the future, and concentrate on smaller things now. Cut down on the amount of electricity you use, and compost your degradable waste. These may seem much less important, but if you do it systematically, you’ll reap quite a lot of benefits.
3. Don’t do something just because you think that that’s what green living is.
There will always be people who observe your lifestyle, and sneer or make comments because they think you should be doing more, or doing things differently, or doing things their way. Sometimes, popular media will back them up, but keep in mind that those are only their opinions, and you are entitled to your own. Do not EVER feel forced to make lifestyle choices that you don’t feel comfortable about. Green living is about saving our planet, but it’s equally about saving ourselves; about becoming happier, healthier people, and you can’t do that when you’re worried and un-happy because you’re doing something that makes you uncomfortable.
3. Remember that the little things matter.
When you’re walking down the street and you see hundreds of cars zoom by, or you see a land-fill choked with tons and tons of plastic and trash, you may feel like you’re all alone. You may feel like our society is determined to kill our planet, and that nothing you do will have any positive effect. It is unfortunately very easy to feel discouraged, and feel that all of your little sacrifices won’t ever add up. To think, ‘Maybe I should give up now, because it’s too late.’
At times like that, it is very important to remind yourself of all the reasons you do what you do. Think about the trees in the forests and parks you’ve been to and the wild creatures in dwindling habitats. Think about your family, and the food, water, and fresh air they need. Think about the grandchildren and great grandchildren that you have, or may someday have.
Remind yourself that you are important, because every step you take, you’re giving them a better chance at a happy future. You’re giving Earth the gratitude she deserves. Remind yourself that you’re a pioneer, a visionary walking what Robert Frost aptly called the road, ‘less travelled by.’ And that will make all the difference.
(And if you still feel alone, remember that there are a lot more of us who walk the same path than you think. Although we’re still outnumbered, we’re a fast growing community. Humanity is a resilient, innovative, and adaptive race. I’m certain we’ll be able to bring about the sort of green-revolution required pretty soon. So hold your head up high and your ideals up higher! Don’t give up!)
5. Share the message!
I know that the mottos of live green have been repeated a billion times or so, and nearly everyone’s heard them before, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell everyone you can about it anyway. The reason for this, is that it’s one thing to hear about it from hypocritical, indifferent people who pass the message along, and entirely another to see someone who actively follows the principles they preach. You’re an inspiring figure, and you should let everyone have the chance to observe you and learn from you. Tell them both how pleasant it is, and discuss the hardships you’ve faced on your journey, honestly. Honesty is a greater motivator than flash slogans and logos, and you might just convert a few people. Also, meeting people who admire you and your choices is a great motivator!
Also meet up with people who’ve been ‘green’ longer than you have. They’ll give you inspiring stories and good advice! You can definitely share stories, start an eco-club, or just hang out together. People who have the same goals as you can make wonderful friends!
So, I hope these tips convinced you to finally tip your lifestyle from sort of greenish to a vibrant, bright green. The most important thing is perseverance, so just keep trying. Someday, it’ll be as natural as breathing.