Eco-guilt. You’re probably familiar with it. It’s a lot like the regular guilt that many of us know far too well, but it’s also compounded with fear, anger, and sadness about sea levels rising, a million species of animals at risk of going extinct, and the sinking realization that every granola bar wrapper we’ve ever thrown away is sitting in a landfill right now. Let me guess -- I didn’t need to remind you.
But maybe you could use a reminder that perfection is an impossible, unachievable construct that no one is asking of you, including us. That voice in your head shaming you for being a human isn’t saving any polar bears. Guilt itself is not productive, but it can give us a boost of motivation, and with a little bit of mental alchemy, we can transform it into actions that we can feel good about.
Here’s our challenge to you: every time you get a pang of guilt because of a carbon-intensive thing you did or a plastic thing you intentionally or unintentionally purchased or a depressing news article you read, counteract it with one. small. action.
Here are some to choose from:
- Refuse plastic the next time you have the opportunity.
- Make your next meal vegan or vegetarian.
- The next time you want to buy something, either refrain from the purchase altogether or buy it from a local and/or sustainable business.
- Unplug something you’re not using.
- Walk, ride your bike, e-scooter, or take public transit to your next destination.
- Purchase a $5 carbon offset or donate $5 to an environmental advocacy or conservation organization of your choice.
Small actions may seem like they don’t make much of a difference, but, collectively, they add up fast and influence those around us to consider making changes too. We are all a small part of a movement that can and will change the world.
Like did you know humans buy almost 1 million plastic bottles every minute? (Did that guilt creep back up?) Think about how much waste would be saved if we all went just one day without buying a plastic bottle... Now do that, and voila -- eco-guilt turned into one small but powerful action!