What is Imperfect Environmentalism?

Since I’ve become more aware of my actions and how they affect the environment, I’ve joined many online groups: listening, reading and learning from others. I think it’s important to take part in discussions and debates, it allows us to understand a subject from a different perspective.

I absolutely love the collaboration and meeting like minded individuals with the same goal. The one thing I find unhelpful is when individuals are shamed for not doing things the ‘right way’. In my opinion, this is counterproductive and holds some people back.

I don’t believe there is only one way to live sustainably.

Being an imperfect environmentalist means you care about the environment and want to do what you can adapt your habits to reduce your impact – ‘do what you can’ this is the key and this will be different for everyone.

Where you live, finances, availability, convenience, trust in companies are some factors when it comes to wanting to live sustainably.

There is a quote I remember reading a while back, I think it was by Anne Marie Bonneau who said

We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly

This sums it up perfectly!

Where do I start?

Every plastic straw you refuse is doing something, every time you walk instead of using the car, buy loose instead of pre-packed fruit and vegetables – they all make a difference. I’m not saying get rid of your car, for a lot of people this isn’t possible but using it less still makes a difference.

There are areas I don’t do well; I still eat meat – although it’s not as much as I used to – and other areas I know I am making a difference by swapping my plastic razor to a safety razor. Break Free From Plastic produced a Global Brand Audit Report in 2020 which stated Coca Cola was the top worst polluter and I still drink coke (In the cans, I refuse to buy plastic bottles). I try to buy things in glass bottles as they’re widely recycled instead of plastic but, for some, the price is a factor. That’s OK.

Don’t be so hard on yourself

Being ‘perfect’ is only going to lead to overwhelm, that’s how I started and I wouldn’t recommend it. When I tried to do everything I found it stressful and I burned myself out, I had to reset and start again.

Start on one area in your home – bathroom is usually a good place to start – take shorter showers, shampoo bars, safety razors, bamboo toothbrush. Once you’re happy with the changes, move to the next area in your home.

If you’re unsure of where to start, I created a 30-day Eco Swap Challenge, it’s $7 and will help you get started.

Do what works for you and don’t forget to keep learning. Most of us didn’t learn about sustainable living at school, we’re all trying to figure it out as adults. Join local litter-picking groups, learn from people who educate others, listen to the science, write to your MP, if you have an outside space – start with learning to grow potatoes, switch off lights when you don’t need them.

We need to stop shaming people for not doing things ‘our way’ and remember that progress, in whatever form, is always better than nothing.

Above all, be kind to yourself – start small, do what you can, build from there

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