Don’t Get Overwhelmed Trying To Green Everything At Once.


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It’s very, very easy to fall into the trap of feeling overwhelmed about not doing enough for our planet. There are so many choices to make and directions to go in that oftentimes people just do nothing instead because it’s much easier. After all, it’s very hard to make a decision when you have so many choices set out in front of you! Thousands of websites, magazines, books, blogs, and speakers are all telling you what you should be doing – sometimes leaving “newbies”, who do want to get involved in greening up their lives, completely at a loss as to where to start. All that information becomes about as useful as Clark Kent without a phone booth if you don’t know how to process it all! If you are feeling at a loss as to where to start and what to do, it might be time for you to break it down into smaller “projects” that you can easily accomplish. Since I am sure you have already read a billion articles on easy ways to go green, I figured a few helpful hints on implementing those ideas you have read about would be more helpful. So here are a few ways to get started without feeling so overwhelmed by the choices. Remember – there is no need to do everything you read at all at once, and there really is no such thing as “not doing enough“. I think that once you start and you see the benefits of your work, your projects will only get bigger and more effective!

Start small. No need to go for the new solar roof right up front! In less than 15 minutes and for absolutely no cost at all, you can lower the temp on your water heater, find reusable bags to bring to the store, take shorter showers, water the lawn less, leave your shoes at the door, make sure the dishwasher is full before running it, or set up an old trash can as a recycling bin. There, you’ve already started the process and it was pretty painless, right? Now imagine what you can do with a few bucks…

Start cheap. There is absolutely no way you need to spend a fortune to start greening up your life. You can buy a single CFL and replace one of your most-used lights with it. Buy a $2 device that restricts water flow and install it on your bathroom faucet. Instead of buying your normal toothbrush, buy one from Preserve that is made from recycled plastic. Wow, you just spent about $10 and reduced your electricity needs, saved gallons of water, and used recycled plastic at home instead of a product made from virgin plastic. Amazing how fast those tiny inexpensive changes add up!

Look for it used. Just before you step foot in that store, stop at the local Goodwill, Salvation Army, consignment shop, or something similar and see if they have what you are looking for that will be A. used and B. a fraction of the cost of a new one. I have bought everything from clothes to books to tools to housewares at these type of stores, so I know that the stuff is out there. This reduces your cost and your impact on the planet.

Write a single letter. Have an issue you care deeply about, but don’t have the interest or ability to go protest and/or get arrested? Write a letter to a politician or advocacy group. While not every letter gets read, the ones that do will let those in charge know what you are thinking.

Leave the big stuff to others. Listen, I know not everyone can (or wants) to live in some of the ways I do. Heck, there are things that I am not willing to do that other “greenies” think nothing of doing! But if you can focus just on the things within your immediate power, it takes some of the pressure off feeling as though there is too much to do. And who knows, you might find yourself looking for more things to do – which is where those of us already doing it can help out!

I remember back in college being overwhelmed by statistics class. On the first day, our Professor told us everything we were going to learn and work on that semester, and it seemed impossible that I would understand any of it. But he did an amazing job of breaking each little part into small sections, teaching us one technique at a time. That’s how I got through a seemingly very difficult class – it was one step at a time. The same technique works for anything in life, really. If you want to learn a new language, you start by learning how to say “hello”. If you want to learn to play piano, you might start with “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. But once you start adding newer and more difficult tasks into the mix, you can see your success level rise accordingly. This is how you should approach your desire to be more eco-friendly – with small, calculated steps, one at a time. You will be amazed at how much easier (and fun) it can be when the pressure is off!

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  1. Yes, yes, one day at a time. I totally agree. That’s my philosophy too. This year I’m working on food and laundry. I also raised the thermostat in my house – now 78F, which I used not to be able to deal with at all, feels cool when the A/C blows on me.

  2. I’ve lurked on your blog for a while now and just had to comment on this. Thank you so much for the “Do one thing” and posts similar to this one! It really makes it easier to digest, get and keep momentum going on living green when the steps are so small!

    Also, thanks for the tip earlier this week on using a lid. I thought I new most of the small steps but that was a total surprise.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. A great, common-sense approach to avoiding green paralysis. Thank you — and good luck with your cat; I’m sending healing thoughts your way.

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