In a world where we are constantly encouraged to be more eco-friendly we can start to feel guilty about some of our lifestyle choices. With 75% of adults in Great Britain worrying about climate change, we can wonder what we can do to change our habits and contribute to a better environment both for us and our children.
Eco-guilt comes from our ability to do something good for the environment, but the conscious decision not to. Whether this is due to convenience, such as purchasing new plastic bags, or necessity sometimes. However, there are ways that your eco-guilt can be reduced.
Guilt is a natural feeling and one that we all experience at some point or other. However, you don’t have to feel this way. Here, we will explore some ways you can cope with your eco-guilt.
Understand your carbon
One way to start feeling better about your eco guilt is to understand your carbon better. Calculating your carbon footprint can help highlight how much you are producing, or saving from being produced, through your daily life.
This might show you a higher figure than you anticipated, giving you a push in the right direction to reducing your carbon and where to target – such as your commuting distance, if possible. Or it might show you a lower unit than expected and can help ease some of the eco-guilt you have been harbouring. If you don’t know how to figure out your carbon usage, then you can calculate it with the WWF Footprint Calculator.
Build a sustainable routine
Another way to reduce eco-guilt is to establish a sustainable routine. This way, you are continually having a positive effect on the environment, as opposed to if you did not make any changes. Rather than being disheartened by your eco-friendly ways, make sure to maintain a routine with them. Lifestyle changes, such as using a reusable travel coffee cup rather than plastic ones, can mean you are positively impacting the environment and your community without causing extra problems for yourself.
This will also teach your children to be more eco-friendly in their lives – grab those children’s wellies and start harvesting your own allotment – promoting sustainability and resourcefulness in your children while keeping your eco-guilt at bay. By making this a routine, rather than a concerted one-off effort, you will regularly impact your carbon footprint as well as find that, over time, the practice of being sustainable will become an unconscious, long-term habit.
As with any part of life, you shouldn’t compare your journey to others. While it can be difficult to ignore the sustainability measures of many, and there is a lot of pressure to be sustainable, you should do so at your own pace. Don’t allow the eco-guilt to diminish the work you have done so far. As with all lifestyle changes, little movements can create big changes – especially if you have children, the small efforts you are making towards being more sustainable can mean they are learning life-changing habits for their futures.
Ongoing and anticipated climate change problems have been known to cause eco-paralysis, but it is important that rather than judging your achievements against others, you focus on what good you do. Avoiding eco-paralysis can involve maintaining a routine and avoiding comparing the efforts of others to yourself. Rather than it appearing as a competition, making positive changes towards the climate should be seen as a collaboration. As such, you should focus on progression rather than perfection.
Some 63% of people surveyed said they have negative feelings towards the future as a result of climate change. It isn’t easy maintaining a sustainable lifestyle, and with pressure from climate change activists, social media, and even your community, you can find yourself struggling to stay motivated. However, eco-guilt shouldn’t be the end of your climate change journey. Focus on you and your family, the small changes you can make, and believe that they are contributing.