As we are learning more and more about the effects humans are having on climate change, the number of individuals opting to live sustainably is steadily growing. Making conscious changes to your lifestyle is key. However, in a world where we are reliant on the things that are bad for the environment and sustainable alternatives aren’t always readily available, it’s not as easy as it should be. These barriers can be difficult to overcome.
I think back about when I started sustainable living and tried making so many changes in one go. I ended up becoming overwhelmed and I did everything badly – it starts with changing habits. After failing miserably, I starting again but this time I tackled one habit at a time.
This was the biggest barrier for me to overcome. It starts with habits. Have you ever tried to give up something you’ve been doing for a long time? Smoking? Drinking? It’s like that. You will do things automatically because that’s how you’ve done it and that’s how your brain and learnt that habit. The great thing is habits can be broken and new ones learnt.
Apparently, it takes between 20 – 30 days to break a habit and starting with one thing is key (don’t make my mistake!). Start with something small like switching your plastic razor to a safety razor. I’ve written blogs about using safety razors and they’re my favourite place to start. Once you get used to the safety razor, make another change.
Once you decide to want to start doing something different and you worry that you may forget. A handy tip is to write it down somewhere just to remind yourself, before you know it, you won’t need the reminder.
I’m not going to pretend this isn’t an issue for many people – it’s a genuine barrier. This is one of the biggest challenges I found to sustainable living and can really take a chunk out of your budget.
My advice is to speak to friends and family and see what they do. Have a look at social media for sustainable living ideas. There are little brands as well as the big brands who can offer great products. Second-hand shops are a great habit to create as these clothing items have already been made and you can find some real gems.
A few more examples are swapping from menstrual pads and tampons to menstrual cup/period pants or swapping to a safety razor. Just these eco swaps can help you save money in the long run.
This is another barrier that really gets to me and it’s hard to overcome. Not all shops offer a decent range of sustainable products. Some don’t offer any at all, so it’s understandable that people will buy from the options available to them. This is where shops need to do better.
Plastic is low cost and therefore, cheaper and they’re convenient but single-use plastic is the problem. Once you’re done with your roll-on deodorant, you’ll throw the who thing away (or recycle it, if you can) and get another one.
Do what you can – if you regularly get a takeaway coffee, use a reusable cup. keep a plastic bag folded in your bag so you don’t need to buy another one, walk (if you can) rather than taking your car.
It’s OK to be different
If anything, I embrace being different but I appreciate that isn’t the case for everyone else. When you’re with a group of friends, it’s OK to refuse a straw, if you’re at someone’s house and you need to throw something away, it’s OK to ask where the recycling bin is. It takes time to overcome this barrier.
I posted this on my Instagram page a while back and it made me chuckle
I wear odd socks because when there’s a hole in one sock, sadly, both pairs tend to be thrown away and I feel that’s a real waste, It’s a great conversation starter too!
Where to start
This was where I fell down at the start. I would highly suggest trying to make one change at a time and start with something small.
What got me started was lemons! I wanted to buy a single lemon but the only option available to me to me was a plastic net bag of about 4/5 lemons, which was way more than I needed. So I starting looking at what fruit and veg I could buy loose.
People are starting to think about sustainable living so some of your friends may have already started – swap ideas!
Something I created so people don’t make the same mistake I did was the 30-Day Eco Swap Challenge – I created this challenge for anyone who wants to adopt sustainable living practices for their home and families without stress, overwhelm or judgement.
Over 30 days, there are 30 different ways to become eco-friendly and live more sustainably. There will be some things you may not have even thought about and one that is a bit of a wildcard!
The path to sustainable living isn’t smooth but it is rewarding and there’s no such thing is a ‘perfect environmentalist’. It’s a myth. Sustainable living looks different for everyone.
Something I always say in my social media is – Start small, Do what you can, build from there!
These are some ideas that work for me but may not work for everyone. Here are my terms & conditions for further reading