Do you guilt trip yourself when you forget your reusable coffee mug on the counter and don’t realize it until you’re at the coffee shop counter? Do you mentally kick yourself when you don’t bring the canvas grocery bags into the store and can’t be bothered to go back to the car and get them? Do you sigh out loud when you are given leftovers from your favorite restaurant in a styrofoam container, rather than the reusable bowl you forgot in your kitchen? If one or more of these sound familiar to you, you are not alone. Environmental guilt can strike at any time, to anyone who cares about the planet.
I know that I am guilty of this guilt. Right now I’m drinking coffee from a paper cup with a plastic disposable lid. What a horrible person I am! And the coffee probably isn’t rain forest and bird-friendly organic certified. Ugh! I might as well stop calling myself an environmentalist! At least that’s what my internal hippie tells me under such circumstances. Yet all is not lost, my friends.
Here’s the thing… no one is perfect, not even the greenest of the green people. As a right-wing organization likes to show us with a billboard on the PA Turnpike (a photo of Robert Redford is beside the text “Flies private jet but wants us to give up gasoline.” or something like that), even people with the best intentions don’t give up everything that might not be good for the planet. The point is to be as good as you can, as often as you can, but not beat yourself up over the times when you’re not.
My husband to-be eats meat. Do I try to convert him, knowing that a vegetarian diet is much better for the planet? No, I don’t do that. But through my cooking he now eats vegetarian meals more than he would on his own. I doubt he’ll ever give up meat completely, and that’s ok (not amazing, mind you, but ok), but he recognizes the benefits and does what he can. Now if I could only get him to bring canvas bags to the grocery store!
But I digress… the point is to find little, simple things you can do, do them repeatedly, and they will become habit. Then stretch yourself to some greater actions and repeat. You’ll be helping the planet and not putting yourself out of your comfort zone too much. And then when you forget to do that action, or are just feeling too lazy to motivate yourself that day, remember that it’s ok. The planet won’t crash and burn just because you forgot to recycle that can of soda today. Just don’t make a habit of it! 🙂