Switching to a greener, eco-friendly lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular because we constantly see information about the good that comes from living in this manner. We hear that health benefits come from eating a plant-based diet, or perhaps, we are shocked by the amount of waste generated daily by the average person. Maybe, we realize that the harsh cleaners marketed to sterilize our kitchens and bathrooms are terrible for humans to use, touch, and simply be around, or health issues like asthma, food allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome have made us focus on all these issues at one time. However, regardless which topic has made you think twice and reconsider certain areas of your lifestyle, even if you are passionate about the reasons to change how you are living, it can be terribly overwhelming to initiate a plan of action. This post briefly focuses on five key points that will help ease the transition to your new greener, eco-friendly lifestyle.
1. Remember, you are not alone.
Whatever topic has drawn you into thinking about a greener, eco-friendly lifestyle, there are support groups everywhere! If you desire something local, Google search your topic for events, people, and businesses in your area that are supporting your topic of interest. In addition, look on social media pages like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for accounts, pages, and groups of people that are looking for connections just like you. Then, reach out and start building a community! Ask questions, encourage other people, participate in events, make new friends, browse ideas and be inspired– the possibilities are endless! The world of communication is amazing today, so take advantage of the wealth!
2. Begin making a difference in your life and in other people’s lives through small steps.
Next, once you have started adding to your arsenal of ideas and support, begin making little changes. You do not have to throw everything out and start from scratch– unless, of course, you want to do it that way! For example, if you are concerned about the chemicals in your house, it is probably best to have a replacement lined up for each of your products before throwing everything out so that you can still clean bathrooms and do laundry and dishes. Or, if you are switching to a plant-based diet, have a meal plan, cookbooks, and grocery list ready so that you are not stuck eating iceberg lettuce or spending too much money on snack foods and treats without providing yourself a long-term and sustainable diet. As you make your new path through life, remember that you are having to “un-learn” everything that you were taught from the moment you were born until now. For example, if you were not concerned about sustainable products for the first twenty or thirty years of your life, it will be difficult to become a master of the topic overnight. So, focus on one step at a time, and your path will unfold as you become more studied in your passion.
3. Set attainable goals because it is easiest to begin making changes when you have an easy goal to focus upon.
While having a community of people and starting to make changes in your lifestyle is something to celebrate and you should be proud about, setting a goal(s) will help you stick to your plan! Once the excitement wears off from your initial burst of energy and time spent in the changes you made, having a set goal will help you keep focused on your final desire. If you want to become more minimalist in your lifestyle, give yourself a timeline of a couple weeks to a couple months to sort through all your belongings so that an open-ended time frame will not become an unfinished project. If you want to change over to all-natural and plant-based cleaning products, make it a goal to find a new cleaning product to change out each week. Basically, try your best to be realistic with yourself as you set your first goals because you do not want to be set up to fail from the start of your project.
4. Be patient with yourself and with other people because “Rome was not built in a day.”
Again, after the initial excitement of change has worn off, there will a few hard times along the way. It is important to remember to be patient with yourself and with other people and to enjoy the learning process. Mistakes will happen and the lifestyle switch will bring a handful, or truckload, of imperfections along the way, but give yourself the grace to make errors and laugh. As I heard in a TEDx Talks video recently, “Life’s too short to weigh your cornflakes.” Do not let yourself become so caught up with being perfect in what you are trying to achieve that you lose track of the “big picture.” Everything does not have to be accomplished at one time, and it is okay if your plan does not get completed quite as you originally intended. If you are focused on being plastic-free, do not get frustrated with yourself if the first few trips to the grocery store you forget to bring your reusable bags; simply make a mental note to try to remind yourself better before next time and do your best with what you have in that moment. If you are trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle and you are given a heart-felt gift that happens to have a lot of packaging, be kind to the person who wanted to bless you with a gift instead of pointing out all the negative aspects. If your goal is to be plastic-free by a certain date but have not found replacements for all the plastic products you use by that date, instead of being depressed about failing to meet your goal, be proud of all that changes you have made so far and continue to replace your plastic! In short, always focus on the good that has come from your lifestyle switch and do not let the bad, disappointing, or hard times take away from the benefits you are bringing to yourself and the world.
5. Finally, in everything you set out to do, have fun!
The most important component of switching to a greener, eco-friendly lifestyle is to have fun! As much as you would like for everything to go perfectly or for no mistakes to ever occur, unfortunately, that is probably not going to happen, so take everything in stride and enjoy every moment. Learn to celebrate the small victories, laugh at mistakes, and smile when unexpected, helpful lessons cross your path.
In conclusion, approaching how to switch your current lifestyle can be terribly overwhelming if you do not know what you are doing, but through finding a community, making small changes at a time, setting goals, being patient with yourself and with others, and having fun as you learn, making changes to live in a greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle can be the most exciting adventure you have ever begun!
I would love to see your thoughts on this post, so please comment or ask any questions! In addition, if you were inspired to put a picture on Instagram because of this post, tag me at #shalomhomestead!
Best wishes and shalom, friends!