Earth Day 2014

4 Easy steps to start living a more sustainable lifestyle

It’s no coincidence that my first blog post is on Earth Day.  For years, on Earth Day I would read a ton of articles about how to lead a more sustainable life, everything from composting to homesteading and a lot in between.  I’d assess my lifestyle, feel a pinch of guilt, then vow to change some habits.  I’d promise myself that I’d swap light bulbs, pay more attention to sorting recycling, and cut back on time spent in the shower.  Except, I never really got around to doing those things.  Years went by.  The only progress I made was collecting more and more good intentions.  There were so many things to tackle about my lifestyle that I didn’t know where to begin.  I was confused about which messages were more important, consume fewer resources, toxins being released into the environment, repurposing everyday items, eating healthfully, and so on.  I wondered, would my meager efforts make a difference? Would I need to make uncomfortable sacrifices?  Would I be labeled as an environmentalist?  I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to begin.

Then one day it happened – I set aside all my doubts, fears, and feelings of inadequacy and went for it.  I took my first step toward living a more sustainable lifestyle by vermicomposting.  I felt empowered.  The feeling of satisfaction was so powerful that each year, I incorporate more sustainable habits.  I think it’s no coincidence that taking more responsibility for my impact on this planet has led me to take better care of myself, thereby improving my health and relationships.  If you’re stuck like I was, try the steps below to help you get started.

4 Easy steps to start living a more sustainable lifestyle:

  1. Make a list of sustainable practices you’re interested in.  It doesn’t matter what they are, just spend a few minutes jotting them down without judging. (Example:  composting, gardening, reducing utility consumption, volunteering.)
  2. Now, review the list.  Consider which practices will make the most impact in your life.  Put a star next to a couple ideas that really resonate with you. (Example: your water bills are sky high and your area is experiencing a drought, your electric bills are high thanks to your old, low-efficiency heater.)
  3. Which of these practices do you have the resources to tackle right now or that you could easily acquire this week?  (Example:  install low-flow shower head, or set a timer to take shorter showers.  A new heating system isn’t in the budget right now.)  Commit to beginning this activity by writing out a list of action items. (Example: Time showers and set a timer to help you reduce shower time by 20%, buy a new shower head at the local hardware store, install shower head.)
  4. Take the plunge and get started!  Don’t worry about anything, not about your progress or if you’re doing it right.  Just do it and keep doing it until it becomes a habit.

Once you’ve been doing your activity for a while, take a moment to reflect.  Did this activity work for you?  Did you feel empowered or have a deep sense of satisfaction from knowing that you’re doing your part to preserve a healthy legacy for future generations?  Are you eager to try another sustainable or healthy habit?  If you answered no, perhaps you should try something else on your list.  Remember that not every practice will fit into your lifestyle, budget, etc.  Even if your first attempt doesn’t work out, don’t let that stop you!  Keep trying and you are bound to find your own sustainable groove in no time.

Please leave a comment to share which sustainable activity you’re going to start practicing right now.  Or, what have you already made into a habit that makes you feel most accomplished?

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About the Author


Like many, JB works a day job with a silly commute but dreams of a life filled with leisure and goats. In her free time she enjoys playing with plants, experimenting with recipes, and tackling DIY projects of all kinds. She sporadically collects mineral specimens, parakeets and new hobbies.

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