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The years not even over yet…. and I can without a doubt say it’s been the weirdest year of my life. This year (2020) I’ve struggled with my mental health ( like most of us) and I’ve struggled with my zero waste journey.
I have been super quiet on my blog and on my Instagram (@thisblemishedlife) because It’s been a struggle to keep up my low waste lifestyle during a pandemic.
I’ve been experiencing what I call Eco burnout or Eco Fatigue from trying to do too much, from expecting to be zero waste.
Recently I decided that my mindset needed to change. I needed to stop expecting perfection, stop waiting for things to go back to normal, and stop overwhelming myself with what I can’t do. Instead I needed to figure out how to make this eco friendly journey sustainable in my life.
If you have been experiencing activist burnout or are just overwhelmed by the idea of reducing your footprint this post is a must read.
5 Ways to Prevent Eco Burn Out
1. Realize You Can’t do Everything
Don’t expect to do it all!
Not everyone has the luxury of being completely zero waste. Sometimes (Most the time) your children, spouse, job, or mental health have to come first,
That is the reality of life. If you keep trying to be perfect in every aspect of your life you will eventually burn out .
We cannot expect every single eco friendly swap we make to be a success just because it was for someone else . It’s okay if we have to create waste in some areas.
If you tried zero waste shampoo and had to switch back, but have stopped buying one time use snack baggies … that’s still a win ! You are still making a difference. Don’t dwell on what you can’t do!
If you are having one of those days , weeks , or months where you need to pick convenience over the environment to get through …. that is okay ! Just do what you can.
If you start out this journey or any journey expecting perfection you are setting yourself up for failure.
2. Allow Time For Self care and Rest
This is one that most of us need to work on .
You cannot expect to take care of your family , the planet , your home , your job , ect . If you are not taking care of YOU first . Give yourself a break! Take time for yourself .
Putting the planet and it’s needs on your shoulders is a very overwhelming and emotionally draining thing . You can’t help if you are already mentally and physically drained .
If you regularly allow time for your needs it will be easier to prevent burn outs and allow you to function at your best .
I’m learning if I want to continue to reduce my footprint , be a decent mother , wife , childcare provider , and human then I need to put myself first … & so do you !
3. Figure Out What is Sustainable For You
I know when I first starting working towards living a zero waste life I overwhelmed myself with everything .
I tried to buy ZERO plastic , zero waste, shop only local , shop only in season produce, avoid online shopping , only buy second hand , refill all toiletries and cleaners , buy everything in bulk , DIY everything I couldn’t buy package free , cook all food from scratch, cloth diapers all the children in my home daycare , stop eating all animal products , never order take out, and so much more.
It’s no surprise I burnt myself out .
I work 60 hours a week and have a home and family to take care of ( like most of us ).
By the end of the day I can hardly manage to make dinner let alone go from thrift store to thrift store trying to find a pair of boots that will fit my son.
Everything on my list just isn’t sustainable for me at this point in my life, and that is OKAY. I still do my best but if there is something I can’t manage I’m trying to be forgiving with myself .
Is cloth diapering not a sustainable option in your life ?
That’s okay , try changing something else.
Is giving up meat not an option for you ?
That’s okay , try changing something else.
It’s so important that we all figure out what changes we can make and stick to.
If you try to do too much all at once you will slow down your journey because you will burn yourself out.
4. Plan Ahead
I don’t do chaos. Raising kids is chaos enough. If I have the ability to plan ahead to make my life easier in the future I always will.
If it is a goal of yours to buy only second hand try shopping a season ahead. Keep your eyes open for gear you might need in the future.
This is especially good to do with kids! Heading to the kids thrift store the first day it snows is absolute chaos , you usually end up leaving empty handed and heading to the nearest mall. If you shop for your kids winter gear early or keep your eyes open on Facebook market place it is very likely you will find exactly what you need.
If you are trying to reduce food packaging but are struggling, why not spend a few hours or an afternoon preparing a freezer stash. You can do this with baked good for snacks or even meals! That way on those days where you are just too tired to function you don’t need to resort to overly packaged junk.
If you don’t have any zero waste stores near you why not order multiple of an item so when you run out you are not stuck running to a store to buy the wasteful alternative.
For example I always try to order 2 or 3 of my zero waste dental floss refills at a time. When I start my last refill I know It’s time to make an order . This is really helpful with reducing package waste as well because one large order will use less packaging than multiple small orders.
If you start planning ahead this journey will start feeling so much easier.
5. Be Positive
Stop focusing on the changes you can’t make and start focusing on the ones you can!
Keeping a positive mind set is so important in a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life.
We live in a very wasteful selfish world and we should all be so proud of ourselves for trying to make a change!
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Anne Marie Bonneau, Zero Waste Chef.
If you take anything from this post I hope it’s that you cannot expect to be perfect, you cannot expect to do it all, you are just one person and you need to make sure you are taking care yourself first! Living an eco friendly life doesn’t have to be all or nothing.