Many sustainable lifestyle articles list the physical actions required as the first place to start being sustainable.
However, the place to start is with the mind and knowing how you need to prepare yourself mentally for the task ahead.
Therefore, this is not an article describing sustainable living techniques but one that sets you on the right path by giving you realistic expectations from a mental attitude perspective.
After all, you need to know what is expected of you and what others are doing and thinking. Starting here will boost your confidence, free you from mental anxiety and set you on the road to success.
Sustainable lifestyle Things to be aware of
So the 8 things to be constantly mentally aware of are:
- You Can’t Change Everything All At Once
- Making Mistakes Is Inevitable
- It’s Your Journey (Be Proud)
- Lifestyle Terms Are Only Guidelines
- Do What Makes You Happy
- Connect With Your Inspiration
- Think Before You Act
- Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle, Repurpose, Rot, And Refuse.
Knowing and focusing on these things at the beginning of your journey is crucial to your success.
Sustainable lifestyle barriers to success
There are things to be aware of that will help you succeed, but there are also things to be aware of that will help you to fail.
All of them depend on your strength of mind, but there are 3 which are particularly dominant.
Three main areas will that will cause you to fail are:
- Eco-anxiety (self-imposed stress)
- Dips in passion (disconnect with what drives you)
- Lack of fun ( change can be hard if you let it be)
If you are committed to a sustainable lifestyle, any dips in passion or fun can be overcome.
However, it’s the eco-anxiety that reveals itself as self-imposed stress, which is the difficult one to overcome and see’s most people fail.
This is because it is all self-generated and kept alive by you and your emotions. Therefore to be successful, we need to reduce the problem of stress.
Remember, the only stress involved here is the stress you put upon yourself to achieve.
Conveniently it’s the topic of reducing stress which leads me very nicely to my first point…
You Can’t Change Everything All At Once
When you think about it, you are making a big change in your life.
The change from a wasteful lifestyle to a responsible, sustainable lifestyle will benefit you, your family, and the planet.
But always remember that no matter how strong the desire, you simply can’t change everything all at once.
This is a journey that you are going to be on for a lifetime. So it’s essential to let things change and evolve slowly over time.
It’s OK to be half in and half out, so long as the goal remains constant. You will get there eventually, and it’s your journey, no one else’s.
It is so crucial to realize this one point, and I can’t stress it enough. It’s your journey, no one else’s!
Along this journey of living sustainably, you will make mistakes, take wrong turns, make questionable decisions, but it’s OK. Every mistake that you make will teach you something.
Look upon mistakes as little life lessons as they are positive things and should be greeted with a smile, not a grimace.
It’s always OK to make mistakes.
If you think about it, we want to be on this journey for the rest of our lives. If we try to change everything all at once, it will be unrealistic, unsustainable, and unachievable.
It certainly won’t be full of fun or, indeed, stressless.
Also, you have to take outside factors that are not under your control into account.
When I started going Low waste, plastic-free, healthy eating, etc., we simply didn’t have the infrastructure near me.
There were no farmers’ markets, organic food shops, zero waste, and refill shops.
These were all factors out of my control which I had to find a way to workaround. Sites like this really helped to keep me on track.
So trying to live a fully sustainable lifestyle all at once and failing can make you feel lousy.
All you will see and concentrate on are your failures, and then the dreaded negative vibes will set in.
This is true even though all of your efforts will actually be truly amazing. You will not see and appreciate the impact you are having on the world and those around you.
So try to remain realistic about what you can change in the present. There is no need to get hung up or depressed about things you can’t change just yet.
Making Mistakes Is Inevitable
Making mistakes along your journey is a very natural and normal part of any big change. But, to be honest, It’s how we learn best.
I personally gave myself a very hard time every time I cheated or made an error of judgment.
However, that negativity served no other purpose than to push me back and to cause me stress. Even those mistakes that I made completely by accident. Or those that I had no control over went onto the “beat myself up list.”
So I definitely think that you should understand that it’s when we make mistakes that we learn the most.
It would be best if you allowed yourself to think about your mistakes positively rather than in a negative way.
Change your mindset in this way and make mistakes work for you, not against you. Do this, and your mistakes will spur you on, not hold you back.
If you can change your mindset, as I have, these mistakes can give you the motivation and the inspiration to achieve even higher goals.
Seeing your mistakes as a good thing is crucial to your success, and trust me, it makes you happier too.
Even my wife and kids like to be around me now, and I enjoy life a whole lot more.
The euphoric feeling you get from seeing the positive can help sustain you through all your eco-anxieties. It will also help you with the understanding that you should never feel ashamed of your efforts.
It’s Your Journey (Be Proud)
I believe that this is the second most important lesson of them all.
Your journey is your own. Do not compare yourself to other people; just focus on what you are doing and your own personal journey.
Where somebody else is on their journey, what they are shouting about, or what is important to them should not be important to you.
They may have started the journey earlier or have access to things that you do not and never will.
Therefore, If you do compare, it will not be a fair comparison, and this is where eco-anxiety will creep in.
Furthermore, you may experience additional negative thoughts of self-doubt, jealousy, and uselessness.
It is these thoughts that will only serve to push you back and create disharmony in your life.
All of these negative thoughts, however, are simply not true. What you are doing, no matter how small, is simply amazing.
By living a sustainable lifestyle, you are changing how societies think and impact the planet in the most extraordinary way possible.
You are influencing a global mindset change that will alter the thinking of governments, global corporations, dictatorships, and, more importantly, those around you.
So remember, it’s your journey; it belongs to you, and its importance should not be underestimated.
Sustainable Lifestyle Terms Are Only Guidelines
Remember that minimalist, zero-waste, and plastic-free terms should be considered only as lifestyle guidelines, not absolutes.
The terms are there to provide you with a reference point to follow to achieve greater sustainability, not absolute sustainability.
Don’t get drawn into the thinking that you will be criticized if you don’t do everything by the book and 100% correctly. You won’t!
However, some do achieve a high degree of sustainability within a sustainable lifestyle. But be assured they are not the norm.
Let’s take minimalism as an example.
Do you know that a minimalist strictly following the minimalist lifestyle rules will only retain 100 possessions in their life at any one time!
So, in reality, these terms merely set the boundaries of what you’re trying to achieve.
It will be rare that you will ever hit the boundary. Or, in fact, stay there for a sustained amount of time.
Remember that this is a long-term lifestyle choice, not a short-term race. So if you want to live sustainably, don’t strive for the perfectionism of these lifestyle choices.
Live them within your means, and be proud and positive about it. You can celebrate others who achieve more than you but never downgrade yourself when doing so.
By the way, if only retaining 100 items makes them happy, then I am all for it.
Never look down on other people’s sustainable lifestyle choices just because they may be different from your own.
So within the guidelines, a minimalist can have either 100 items or 100 plus. A zero-waste advocate is occasionally allowed to treat themselves. And a plastic-free person could buy the odd plastic item if required.
By now, you should be getting the idea, follow your heart, and ditch the absolute rules for healthy living guidelines.
It’s a lot less stressful!
Do What Makes You Happy
This basically means don’t give up on doing or keeping the things that you love. As I have said, all sustainable lifestyle rules are not hard and fast rules; they are merely guidelines.
Each of us may interpret them differently, but no interpretation should equate to;- deliberately making yourself unhappy.
Living a sustainable lifestyle will decrease your stress, make you feel whole inside, and increase your happiness over time.
That statement is not just fanciful thinking; it’s a well-documented fact.
You will start to reconnect with nature, eat a better diet, use less toxic materials, increase your family time, and consume less materialistic goods.
Ana, all this will happen organically, so there is no need to force it.
So don’t start your journey by throwing away that which you love? It just doesn’t make sense. If you are an artist, don’t abandon your toxic paints immediately; use them up doing what you love.
Then when they are spent, you can replace them with new and sustainable, non-toxic ones.
The same can be said of non-ethical fashion if clothes are your thing or Tupperware or wood.
Whatever makes you happy, let it keep you happy.
There is no need to feel guilty; remember; this is your journey, no one else’s!
Imagine how hard the journey would become if you discarded all the things that gave you joy in life.
For many people doing this first was their big mistake. Furthermore, if you do this on your journey, I promise you it will be a very short and sad one.
Making the changes organically and slowly over time is very different. It makes you feel empowered, excited and gives you a genuine sense of progress.
If you take responsibility for your new lifestyle slowly, others will follow you and support you.
Now isn’t that truly the way to achieve happiness and peace inside?
Connect With Your Inspiration
This is, without a doubt, the most important lesson of them all.
Your inspiration is unique to you; it will always provide a strong backbone and be the safe shelter of your hopes and ambitions.
This is your core purpose, the reason you are here, and the reason that this journey will be a success. You are amazing!
Whatever it was that inspired you to investigate the change to a sustainable lifestyle will be the solid root of your tree.
Write it down and reference it whenever you are feeling low and need a little pick me up.
Because, just like the root of a tree, your inspiration will need to be nourished once in a while.
For me, the reason I got into this lifestyle was for the benefit of my family. I no longer wanted to feed them the none-nutritious rubbish in the supermarkets.
Nor did I want them to breathe in the noxious fumes from the cleaning solvents or watch me clean all day. Instead, I valued my family time and my family.
So I did what you are doing now and investigated the alternatives.
Now my life is better. This is because I have adopted some principles whilst working on others and no longer waste my energies on negative thoughts.
If I get it wrong, I quickly embrace my mistake and learn from it.
I learned to think of mistakes as little gifts from me to me.
My inspiration is my family and my doing the right things for them.
This is my journey, and I own it.
However, whenever I get low, I know that doing right for my family and the rewards we have achieved will always be the inspiration that picks me back up again.
As for family time, we are now connecting with each other, spending less time on screens, and connecting with nature.
My kids love to be outdoors, and my wife has taken to it so strongly that she now has walking goals. Of course, these goals stretch way beyond mine but connecting like this is in itself inspirational!
So why is this lesson of connecting with your inspiration so important?
Well, It grounds you. It gives you a sense of purpose, and it feeds you when you are low. So I encourage you with all my heart to recognize your inspiration.
Find the time to connect with it so that your motivation never dwindles and you can sustain this lifestyle.
Think Before You Act
There are many people who will offer advice on how to live a sustainable lifestyle and, more importantly, what to buy.
Whilst some of these people will be genuine, and the products good, not everything will be suitable for you.
Take stainless steel straws, for example. They are a good product with many redeeming features over their plastic counterparts, but do you really need them?
Just because they are an accepted part of the sustainable lifestyle revolution does not mean they are a must-have product.
If you don’t use straws – why buy them?
If you buy stainless steel straws just because you think you should have them, you are wasting your money.
Worse still, you are contributing to a wasteful system of consumerism of the worst sort.
The ore must be mined, transported, processed (with other resources), transported again, beaten, shaped, etc.
All of this just so that you can claim to be living a sustainable lifestyle whilst owning a product that you may never use!
This is why I say, “think before you act.”
Do what is right in your heart; always think before you act, and listen to your core inspiration.
Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle, Repurpose, Rot, And Refuse.
This is the perfect place to start your journey, cut costs and prevent yourself from going too far too quickly.
As I said, earlier real change happens organically, so don’t force it.
Think of these Rs in everything you do. Without a doubt, It will save you heaps of time, money, effort, eco-anxiety, and family stress.
When trying to live a sustainable lifestyle, these Rs will keep you on track. They should be at the forefront of your mind and in every decision that you make.
Remember, if you only do these Rs, then you will be reducing your environmental impact considerably.
Reducing the number of things that you buy, own, and replace will drastically reduce the impact on the environment. Fewer resources will be mined, processed, and eventually sent to landfill.
Reusing what we can, such as empty bottles/jars, will give them another lease of life and keep them out of the trash.
Repairing items not only reduces landfills but prevents new resources from being mined. Extending an item’s life is also cheaper and forces manufacturers to improve quality if they want to maintain sales.
This is good for the environment as it prevents planned obsolescence.
This is a process by which manufacturers create goods with a very limited lifespan. This means that they need to be replaced quicker, which means higher profits for them.
Reducing your spending by repairing goods negates this and forces them back into producing higher-priced but better-quality goods.
Recycling keeps a variety of materials in the goods chain and removes them from the trash. This gives them a second lease on life and helps create jobs, inventions, and the economy.
Repurposing means finding an entirely new use for an item, such as creating pencil holders from water bottles. You could also try making handbags from jeans. Lamps, and tables from engine parts and even go-carts from prams.
Rot as much kitchen and home waste as you can in your home compost area or bin. You can even do this in a small apartment.
Refusing means that you cut down on the things that you don’t need. This, in turn, helps to cut down on the things that you own and will eventually have to discard.
To start you off, you can refuse junk mail, plastic shopping bags, straws, and free toys in meals.
The list is seemingly endless, so where will you start?
All you need to know is that your journey is yours.
Be very proud of it and never compare your journey to others. Keep your core inspiration in mind, and always think of the Rs in every decision you make.
Know that all your mistakes are just positive learning experiences, and remember that YOU ARE AMAZING!
By choosing to start living a sustainable lifestyle, you are contributing to a real-world environmental movement. As this movement gains traction, the world will become cleaner and less toxic.
Endangered species will be saved, resource depletion will be slowed, and soo much more.
Furthermore, you will be instrumental in all of this!
Good luck, and I hope that I have cleared away some of the self-doubts you may have experienced.
Remember Why It’s Good
Switching to a sustainable lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for the environment. With a little research and effort to start, living sustainably can be a hugely gratifying experience.