Have you ever felt overwhelmed by our environmental crisis? Have you wanted to help but don’t know where to start? I know those feelings all too well, BUT I am here to tell you how you can make simple, affordable changes in your everyday life that will benefit you, your community, AND the planet!
I recently graduated with a degree in conservation biology. In pursuit of my degree, I suffered innumerable hours of professors lecturing about the depressing state of oceans, forests, atmosphere, etc. On more than one occasion, I left my coastal environments class sobbing because like, wtf happened to the oceans…? How did we let this go so far? Why aren’t we banding together with unbreakable urgency to preserve the beauty of this planet with which we have been spoiled?
Shame is not an effective motivator
Feeling bad about the choices I was already making only made me feel worse…. I didn’t really change anything I was doing until I realized better choices could make me feel better. Trying to change my habits out of fear that the planet, as we know it, is in trouble gave way to some motivation, but not being able to create that monumental life change I expected of myself left me sitting in a lot of shame. I was born into this over-consuming, disposable system and that’s not my fault. However, I now have the responsibility to do as much as possible to improve the state of our planet for humankind and all the other creatures. It is a lot of unfair weight on our shoulders, so let’s feel proud of every good decision we do make and give ourselves grace when we feel like we just can’t do enough. We were handed this problem – let’s not make it worse for those inhabiting this planet next.
Progress Not Perfection
Have you ever had someone make you feel like you weren’t _______ enough?
Experiencing communities that made me feel like I wasn’t vegan or zero waste “enough” turned me away from being part of the solution. I have witnessed unnecessary animosity within eco-movements. The truth is, you are enough and have always been enough and the decision you make today matters. I am not here to provide false confidence, to tell you breaking-up your relationship with plastic straws is the one key to saving the oceans – because it’s simply not. This is about a journey of making many small changes – slowly at first so we can sustain change in the bigger picture. We don’t need a few perfect zero-wasters; we need millions of people doing zero waste imperfectly. Your choices matter and make a difference!
One Day at a Time
I use to be a total hardcore-protest slaughter houses- I won’t sit at your table filled with meat- kind of vegan, while also dumpster diving, trying to go zero waste and not use fossil fuels all at once. The end result?… Burn out. It’s real and I’ve been there. Trying to change everything about my life in one day was the least sustainable action I could have taken because it was impossible… so I gave up, reverted back to my old lifestyle habits and felt even smaller. I also did no good for the people around me during that time. I pushed a lot of people away from the movement with my intensity.
Change is often slow. I struggled to accept this because I felt the urgency of our climate crisis. I don’t want to use this as an excuse to not take the actions we need to take, but let’s remember to have grace with ourselves. As the world did not get into this state overnight, we will not heal it overnight.
One Girl, One World
Sometimes I feel really small and I question just how much change I can actually create. Then I wonder, if everyone believed their actions mattered to the rest of the world, where would we be?
I’m sure you’ve heard before “just one straw” said 7 billion people. Let that sink in. If you make a change and other people see you living in a different way that makes you feel better and happier and they do it and other people are inspired by them….. The ripple effect is powerful. It is what got us into this mess and I believe it can get us out.
Our actions over the next few years will be crucial to saving ourselves and the beautiful planet as we know it. We have blown through our carbon budget, lost 83% of wild mammals, and started to acidify the oceans. This information can be depressing OR inspiring. We have left an impact on Earth so deep it will be seen on the geological record – that’s impressive! If we can leave a mark like that, who’s to say we are incapable of innovating, collaborating, and turning this ship around! Basically, if we really want to save ourselves, precious fuzzy polar bears, and pleasant tropical islands, we can. It’s going to take work and we need to start ASAP. The way I see it is we have to make one choice – the real work starts now or we try to pick up the pieces as we suffer food insecurity, unbearable natural disasters, soaring temperatures, and a suffocating atmosphere…..