Monday, October 20, 2014

Overcoming Green Living Fatigue

The Climate Crusader is battling green living fatigue.

I have a confession to make: sometimes I feel tired of being an environmentalist. Sure, I carry around reusable bags and reusable water bottles and reusable cloth napkins. I do my best to pack a litterless lunch now that I'm volunteering in a local school three days a week, and I bring my compost and recycling home with me so that I know it doesn't end up in the landfill. I walk my kids to school and buy organic.

I try to do my part. I really do.

Sometimes, though, I feel discouraged. It seems like in spite of the efforts that ordinary people like me make, big institutions like governments and corporations aren't pulling their weight. I read about climate change and toxic chemicals in our environment and species extinction and I feel powerless to do anything. Some garden pest has eaten the little lettuce sprouts I so carefully planted and tended, and there's nothing I can do about it. And on top of that I crave a Diet Coke and a bag of completely non-organic chips. Or maybe a meal from a fast food restaurant.

So, what's an environmentalist to do when it all feels pointless and overwhelming? Here are four things that have helped me.

1. Look for Good News Stories

There's plenty of bad news, we all know that. Amidst the doom and gloom, it's easy to overlook the good news, but it's there. When you're feeling discouraged, seek out some good news. If searching online is too overwhelming, ask your friends or family. Put the call out on Facebook. Or look here, I've gathered a few to get you started.

2. Let Go of Something

If you feel like you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, it's easy to become overwhelmed. No one person can save the world on their own. If you can relate, let go of something that isn't feeding you. It's okay to say 'no' sometimes - and in fact, letting go of obligations that are sapping your energy can free you up to do more in areas that are meaningful to you. Even a day out doing something you enjoy can make a world of difference to your outlook. Speaking of which ...

3. Get Out in Nature

Spending time in nature can be very healing. Whether you're feeling stressed out about the state of the planet or work or pretty much anything, the great outdoors can provide a great antidote. Getting outside in all seasons is also a good way to re-connect with the environment that sustains us. It may also help you to renew your commitment to sustainability.

4. Make Connections

It can be easy to feel alone as an environmentalist in your day-to-day life. There are countless other people out there who are also doing their part to protect our planet, though. Making connections with them can help you beat your enviro-malaise. Plus, isn't it great to make friends? This is one of the things I love about the Green Phone Booth, in fact - the way that different bloggers come together to share. There are online groups, blogs and organizations you can connect with, as well as local groups. You can choose whatever works best for you.

How about you - how do you overcome green living fatigue?


Green Bean said...

This post really spoke to me! It is not so much the day to day living that bums me out or makes me feel deprived. To the contrary, I've become so accustomed to this that I am actually surprised not everyone shops at the thrift store when they need something or that some people buy all their produce from a major supermarket instead of the farmers' market.

But it is the feeling that there are so few of us doing this. That I've been doing this for so long and things are still so screwed up. Every single one of your tips, though, helps combat the sense of failure or loss. I'm bookmarking this list!

Lisa said...

So true. I don't live in the greenest part of the world and sometimes it can be frustrating to feel like the only one trying. I try to focus on the good changes I've seen, like my town now has curbside recycling, which is huge for a small town in Oklahoma. And some of my friends have made changes to more natural and green things.

I also have to not beat myself up, like now I'm using lots of plastic in dealing with an asthma attack but it's life or death so I can't be too hard on myself. And that one cup of coffee in a disposable cup, that will help me breath better, is going to be okay if I avoid them most of the time. :)

Anne said...

In the "letting go" category I would add it's okay let go and not try so hard to be green each and every day. Not advocating for irresponsibility. But feeling that one has to be perfectly green 100% of the time is impractical and stressful in itself.

Mindful Momma said...

Oh boy - been there! Letting go is a big one for me. We stopped composting during our kitchen remodel because it was just too much of a hassle - but boy did I feel guilty. I just put the compost bucket under our new sink - and I feel like all is right with the world. :)

Betsy Escandon said...

Yes, yes, and yes. It's something I love about the Booth as well! I also think the amount of negative news is paralyzing. It may be accurate, but it's not necessarily inspirational. Our minds latch on to the negative -- you know how you need five positive interactions to overcome one negative one (or something similar)?I wish we could shift to focusing on the positive and what works and less doom and gloom.

Brenna Burke said...

Volksawgen had an idea called the fun theory that they put to good use in ad form, but for me it served a greater purpose to remind myself that people can, and will, choose better options when you present them in a positive - fun - light. We need to know what's at stake, but we also need to know there is hope.

Lindsay said...

I try to avoid green fatigue all the time! I have found that writing about a variety of issues related to environment but also health, community etc is a good way. Thanks for your great tips!

Sonya Kanelstrand said...

Great tips for overcoming fatigue (not just a green living one). I think that having a green attitude to life should be that comes from within, from our complete belief that there's no other way. In that sense, if you believe you're right you don't need to be an activist in your everyday, you just do what you believe is right and hope that through example you will encourage the people around you. We cannot change the world, but the changes we can make in ourselves and in the people we connect with every day are what truly matters.

Lori Popkewitz Alper said...

It's exhausting. I completely agree. Working tirelessly for something you so strongly believe in and not always seeing the results you had hoped for. I think it's always important to remember that we're all doing the best we possibly can. Covering a wide variety of issues can also help reduce "green fatigue". Thanks for the great tips.


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