Are you living the green life? Last week we both read the Correspondent (Dutch online newspaper) article “Why I am an asshole?”. The article argues for the realization that we are all assholes when it comes to making sustainable choices in our lives. As soon as it’s easier for us, we do choose to take that flight to our destination, we buy that avocado because we like it so much and we make babies because we also want to be parents. Last year we decided to change our social media nickname in @wearenosaints for a reason. How saintly are we really?
Living the green life can be a real struggle sometimes. 9 out of 10 times the easy way out is not an option for you anymore. Buying cheap clothes means not caring about child labour, exploitation, polluted rivers and an even bigger waste belt. Flying is definately not done and consuming dairy means that the youngsters of the male sex are sent directly to the slaughterhouse. Do you want to eat a banana to ease your appetite? You have to make sure it’s fair trade. Preferably you buy all your fruit and veg organic. You separate your waste, walk around with an insulated mug and a Dopper, shower for only 3 minutes, use natural soap (or nothing at all) and you use a Japanese wooden cotton swab that you can recycle all your life. You have washable organic cleaning pads, you menstruate in your cup that you wash and clean after use, don’t take the pill anymore and you never buy (new) books and magazines anymore (because: paper waste). Your phone is eco friendly (or you don’t own one), you refuse all receipts and you holiday in an eco resort close to home. You blow dry the laundry in the wind, make your own detergent, try not to have central heating on and wear 3 extra sweaters instead. You walk at least 10,000 steps a day and you try not to use your car and at night you step into your thrifted bed with organic fairtrade bed linnen exhausted but very green.
“I am not a saint and I don’t have to act like one.”
And even then you’ll read somewhere that, in order to reduce your footprint completely to zero, you shouldn’t be walking this earth altogether.
In short: this is one game you’re not going to win no matter what you do.
And sometimes you’ll just be in utter despair and in the spur of the minute you’ll book that cheap flight to the sun (yes, you on a plane, REALLY), you buy a matcha latte to go even though they don’t have plantbased milk and you forgot your insulated mug and you forget to refuse the plastic straw in time. You just don’t know anymore.
Living the green life, a 100% sustainable lifestyle, seems to be an inexhaustable challenge in which you, when you follow other green lifestyle bloggers, are attacked with new tips and challenges for an even more sustainable life. An that one thing you thought was no alternative for yet and you could still get away with the cheap option (you’re out of money now) just launched in a sustainable version. Yay! Not so much…
Reducing your footprint can easily grow into a much more expensive lifestyle then you used to have (you might save on heating but fair fashion, organic veggies and travelling by train are definately more expensive). And it can be unsatisfying when you don’t reach your (sometimes) unreachable goals. And it’s time consuming at times. And competitive. And it can give you so much guilt when you fall of the wagon…
And in that moment you say to yourself: “I am not a saint and I don’t need to be one. Nobody is perfect and I’m jut trying here.”
What also helps?
– Think of your initial goal when you started living more sustainable. Did you ask yourself to strive for perfection? If you’re a perfectionist along the way you’ve probably changed the game. Change it back. Our goal was baby steps, and that’s what we still strive for: step by step.
– Take a break and look at your green accomplishments from a distance. What works for you and what doesn’t? What is something you’d like to work on and what do you save for later?
– Don’t put to much challenges on your plate. Choose.
And don’t forget: You don’t need to account for your personal choices. They are YOUR choices.