Eco guilt is something more & more people are talking about at the moment, so I’m here to help with some tips and advice for how to deal with it productively. It’s also known as green guilt and environmental guilt, but whatever you call it, lets deal with!
I first posted this a couple of years ago, but I feel like feelings of eco guilt are getting more and more air time lately. So, I decided it was a good time to update this post with some new thoughts as well!
First things first, what is eco guilt?
Eco guilt is that feeling you get when you’re sure you could be doing more to help the planet, or you feel like you’ll never be able to do enough. This can result from us learning more about what is happening to the environment, being bombarded with information about toxins or pollution. The end result is people feeling overwhelmed to the point of inaction or raising their anxiety levels, neither of which are good outcomes.
So, what can we do instead?
Look back at how far you’ve already come
Chances are, if you’re feeling eco guilt then you’re probably already making some positive changes in your life. Focus in on the wins you’ve had and how far you’ve already come and celebrate that first. Use it as a basis to make some more small changes, but just don’t lose sight of how well you’re doing already.
Use it as a motivator
When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with how much more we could all be doing, try and make that motivate you into action. Find something positive you can channel that frustration in to – volunteer your time, write to companies or Government and lead by example.
Choose your fights
Most of us just don’t have the time to be crusaders on all fronts, so pick the one (or two) that really speak to you and start there. It might be animal welfare or reducing plastic or organic food – whatever it is, focus your energy there for now. Once you feel like you’ve made some headway you can look at making other changes as well, but in the beginning just choose your fights.
Make step changes
If you feel like the changes you have made so far aren’t doing enough, then look at making step changes where possible. For example, if you’re already good at taking reusable bags to the shops, then make your next challenge to reduce plastic packaging. If you’ve reduced your food waste then try growing some of your own food. There’s lots of little changes we can make to build on our earlier successes!
Focus on yourself, not on others
While it’s definitely important to let Government and organisations know what they should be doing better, the same doesn’t necessarily apply to the people around you. Everyone approaches these kinds of challenges in their own ways, and what is most important to you may not be to other people. Making them feel more guilty for what they haven’t yet changed isn’t going to help them, and it won’t make you feel any better in the long term either. So, focus on the things you can control – yourself!