How To Deal With Eco Guilt

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!

How To Deal With Eco Guilt | I Spy Plum Pie

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!

I hope you found these ways to deal with eco guilt helpful. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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42 Comments on How To Deal With Eco Guilt

  1. Eugen
    September 20, 2019 at 6:32 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Liz,

    I enjoyed the article as I sometimes feel like this and indeed watching back helps. I just wanted to share how I am increasing my steps in being waste neutral.

    So, we know that it takes about 3 weeks to make a habit of something. For me, this means that every month I am trying to focus on one particular thing to reduce waste. I have started with not buying bottled water in the first month. The second month I have added that I will not take any carrier bags from the shop and always will have one in my backpack. The third month, I have stopped putting vegetable and fruit in those horrible plastic bags, I mean, they already have protection, right?

    You can’t change anyone unless you start changing your habits.

    Thanks for the read

    Eugen

    Reply
  2. Sebastian Gomez
    April 14, 2020 at 11:57 pm (1 year ago)

    I remember that a few years ago I try reducing my meat consumption and for a year it kinda work. However, when I graduated from high school and started university I started to fell a lot weaker than before. Because I sstarted studying something that required me t to be a lot more active my current diet was m not longer enough and in order to keep up wwith this new way I had to go back into cconsuming meat as I was doing before though I I would still want to try again.

    Reply
  3. Laura Natalia Gutierrez Amezquita
    April 14, 2020 at 11:57 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi, Liz
    First I want to thank you for your post beacuse I could realize that I´m actually a eco-guilt person just that I have been trying to forget just like if I had frozen in my mind.

    There is one thing that I always have been trying to change or use but I haven´t do it, It´s so simple , use a glass when I brush my teeth, I forgot or I use it for some days but that´s it. For me it´s useful and could motivates me to make anothers changes but I don´t know what is happening .-. but I´m going to try to do my best now.

    Reply
  4. Valeria orduz
    April 14, 2020 at 11:58 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Liz,

    I tried to convince my mother to buy unpacked products, go with our own packages and pay only for the product, without generating so much packaging waste.
    However, here in Bogota there are few sites that sell their products in this modality, and having to travel so far to buy them, we have only done it a couple of times.

    Reply
  5. David
    April 14, 2020 at 11:58 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi, Liz!

    I am used to taking a lot of time when taking a shower and feel eco-guilt because of that. So, to deal with this, I’d heard that you could play a song while you’re in the shower and, when it finishes, you go out from it.

    Well, it was helpful initially but, after the first week, I spent more time than before because I just concentrated on the song and when it finished, I realized I had to do my stuff.

    Anyway, thanks for these useful tips!

    Reply
  6. Paula
    April 15, 2020 at 12:01 am (1 year ago)

    Hi,

    A year ago I was trying not to buy more disposable plates and glasses, in order not to increase the consumption of these plastics, but I could not continue doing so because always in family gatherings with so many people gathered it was easier to use this type of tableware. So what I started doing was learning how to separate the plastic waste, and how to clean it to make it suitable for recycling. Now I consciously and daily recycle all the plastics used in my house.

    Thanks.

    María Paula

    Reply
  7. Juan Serna
    April 15, 2020 at 12:01 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Liz,

    The advice you give in your article is important, since everyone needs to focus on their own actions, because when you try to change everyone at the same time, you are not doing anything. Changing people is difficult and you divert your attention from your own actions, either an advantage of focusing on yourself is that you can be more far-sighted and conscious about your actions.

    In my case, I’ve been trying to reduce my usage of plastic with water bottles and lunch packages, so I reuse the bottles and I use a hard plastic lunchbox to carry my food, avoiding the usage of ziplocs.

    Everything is ok with the lunchbox, BUT with the water bottles it’s been a trouble. Why? Because I found a bottle in my house or I buy one in the market and I start to reuse it, but after a week, the bottle y completely damaged or I lose it, even If I try with my best, my record reusing a plastic bootle is 2 weeks. I feel eco-guilt because of that, but I’m trying to improve using a hard plastic bottle, the problem is that I’m not used to it, but I continue trying and doing my best. As you said, choose your fights, make step changes and when I success with my objective, I’ll try to transmit my experience to other.

    Thanks for your time

    Juan Jose Serna

    Reply
  8. Heidy Q
    April 15, 2020 at 12:01 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Liz! i really like this article because i think that i have a serious problem with the eco-guilt.
    In my case, few months ago i had been trying to stop my use of polystyrene food packaging because i usually buy my food wherever i am (i don’t have enough time to prepare it at home), i really had tried to stop it so long, but i failed with this challenge. Do you have any advice that can help me with this?
    On the other hand i have been using just microwave to cook my food, i thought that this could work for reduce gas emission from the conventional gas stove kitchen but i think that is not a good option to care of the enviroment because it encreased my use of electricity, what do you think about it?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  9. Pablo Andrés Ledesma Castro
    April 15, 2020 at 12:02 am (1 year ago)

    Hi there!

    I started by skipping the straw, then I became a little obsessed with the waste of water and recycling at home. Recycling is the main action I deploy from my side. I totally agree with your step-by-step perspective, although some news about the polluting situation makes me feel annoyed, I admit. Anyway, these are the steps I carry out and I consider them somehow useful.

    On the other hand, I need to reflect upon the changes I’ve done, because sometimes I feel like a pollution sinner. This guilt feeling discourages me sometimes, specially when I see someone else throwing things in the street, disregarding the ethical and ecological consequences it may have.

    I think little steps make big differences when someone look at you doing it, and the change will come. Other bigger changes that need to be done comes from the politicians, but this type of things do not depend upon us directly.

    Thanks for the useful insight!

    Pablo

    Reply
  10. Angelica Martinez
    April 15, 2020 at 12:02 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Liz

    I have started avoid using plastic waste, and then I began to separate the garbage at home (recyclable, not recyclable) but later I felt that it was not long because the garbage collection companies do not do this separation, so I give up.

    Angelica.

    Reply
  11. Jasblendy
    April 15, 2020 at 12:03 am (1 year ago)

    Hi liz, I really appreciate this post because I felt identified. I want to share with you my experience in something I had been trying to change but could not go on doing. Well, I always wanted to manage the waste in my house for a better garbage management but my family does not pay much attention to me, so is hard to me change my family mind and I just stopped trying. I felt I failed to the world but with this post I felt good with that.

    Reply
  12. Nicolas Valderrama
    April 15, 2020 at 12:05 am (1 year ago)

    d:

    Once I was very concerned about global warming and all plastic tons that we produce and just end floating on the sea. So I wanted to start by separating all the garbage before throwing it, but it wasn’t useful if I don’t wash the plastic bottles bags and almost every material I wanted to recycle before throw it. It was very difficult and tedious so I can’t maintain the habit for a long and now here I am, feeling guilt and waiting for the next eco-idea that comes to me.

    Reply
    • Nicolas Valderrama
      April 15, 2020 at 12:07 am (1 year ago)

      Hi!
      I would like to share my first eco-guilt and how I can’t make the habit I wanted:
      Once I was very concerned about global warming and all plastic tons that we produce and just end floating on the sea. So I wanted to start by separating all the garbage before throwing it, but it wasn’t useful if I don’t wash the plastic bottles bags and almost every material I wanted to recycle before throwing it. It was very difficult and tedious so I can’t maintain the habit for a long and now here I am, feeling guilt and waiting for the next eco-idea that comes to me.

      Reply
  13. Dorado Jorge
    April 15, 2020 at 12:07 am (1 year ago)

    Hi. I really enjoyed your article. I find it even more pertinent today, in times of quarantine.
    Something important is to observe the real impact our actions may be having, beyond the romantic ideas around them.For example, it’s much more harmful to the environment to eat meat than to reject a straw.
    In my country (Colombia) we are invited to separate garbage, to recycle, which I do at home, however, state policies on waste storage make recycling obsolete in most cases. Almost always plastic items or those separated for recycling end up piled up in the same place with organic waste.In this case, “recycling”is not as convenient, unless I find a way to use the recycled waste in my own home, or use the organic waste as fertilizer for my own garden.
    It is always about looking at the real impact, beyond our own self-centered awareness.

    Greetings.

    Reply
  14. Jhonatan David
    April 15, 2020 at 12:07 am (1 year ago)

    Hi, Liz.

    I found really interesting and helpful the article, looking back to my daily life I can do some things to change, but maybe the feelings of eco guilt are a really powerful turnoff.

    For example, some weeks ago I was trying to reduce my consumption of plastic bags, but when every single shopkeeper packages my products I think I lost my initiative. But this post is encouraging me to try to make some changes in my way of consumption and in a easier way.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  15. Sara Gutierrez
    April 15, 2020 at 12:10 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Liz,

    I hope you are doing well, I want to tell you some experiences i was trying to improve to reduce eco-guilt . Some months ago I searched some alternatives to reduce the amount of water we were wasting at my home.So, I made a little campaign in my house to developed some awareness about this issue and i presented some solutions that we can improved such as took little time showers, turn off the water when we brushed our teeth and the last one recoleted water in the garage to reuse it maybe on wash clothes process but unfortunately, we can not continue with the last activity due to i was living in a really polluted zone so the rainwater came with a lot of toxins at the point that it generated an unpleasant smell, by the other hand the other possibilities became an habit.Maybe it has been being a good beginning.

    Thanks for your attention

    Reply
  16. Linda Julieth
    April 15, 2020 at 12:10 am (1 year ago)

    Hi
    I have tryed to reduce the paper that I use to solve homeworks and take notes in class because I write a lot, I have been really difficult for me I still haven’t reduce the paper in a significant amount.
    Some months ago I wanted to use worms to do compost with the organic waste as the peel fruit, but I found difficult to raise them in my house, then I had to think in other ideas.
    Thank you

    Reply
  17. Sebastián Arteaga Villarraga
    April 15, 2020 at 12:13 am (1 year ago)

    Hi,

    I find this article really helpful, actually, I have tried to improve my contribution for the earth decreasing the quantity of paper that I have used during my Universitary studies (like in photocopies), because a lot of teachers has left me a lot of readings or articles that probably I know that I could read it in just a PDF. However when I tried to just read in the computer or cellphone, I noticed that I didn’t utilize my time better and I distracted a lot with the differents apps there. So, for that reason, I decided to just continue printing all the photocopies that I need but usually I feel ego-guilt.

    Thanks for your attention:)

    Reply
  18. Rodrigo Lorduy Calume
    April 15, 2020 at 12:13 am (1 year ago)

    If I am completely honest, I would say I have not tried fighting by myself in order to reduce environment pollution. The main reason is because I consider it slightly unnecessary as contamination I produce, being compared, for example, with the one generated in the Amazon by Brazil factories, is absolutely insignificant. Rural colonialism caused by the desire of importing/exporting products faster and cheaper which has coexisted with the construction of large roads on such a weak soil or the establishment of gigantic hydroelectric companies on the river, has derived in a horrible poisoning of water and in an unimaginable deforestation. That is the real contamination, not ours! I would really like to fight against the continuity of this business. However, if I meddle there, I am doing it being sure that my only destiny is to die trying. Therefore, little and nothing to do.
    By: Rodrigo “non eco guilty” Lorduy

    Reply
  19. Natalia Torres
    April 15, 2020 at 12:15 am (1 year ago)

    Hi,
    My family and I tried to reuse excess water from our daily shower. In special, when water stays cold for a long time. We decided to put a jar and at the end of the day we use this water for flushing the toilet. But we realized that it doesn’t work. One day the water had a sponge on it, so we ruin the toilet, and to fix this problem, we had to use a lot of water. It was horrible 🙁
    It’s difficult because when you are trying to solve this kind of problems, you end up making tha things wrong.
    Thanks for the read
    Natalia Torres

    Reply
  20. July Torres
    April 15, 2020 at 12:25 am (1 year ago)

    I share many things in common with you.

    For example, I´m trying all the time to focus on recycling what I can do since my reality and normality, for example: Use cloths bags, not use straw, recycling water, saving plastic bags to use more than once, bamboo toothbrush, make my own vegetable plot, use eco friendly makeup, even do recycling campaigns in my neighborhood.

    But I must accept that I cannot say goodbye to one of the most polluting things and it is: Clothing, especially clothing from brands known as fast fashion (H&M, Zara, Bershka, Pull & Bear), that reproduces trends that quickly reach the consumer and that it end up soon in the trash. The apparel industry produces 10 percent of global carbon emissions, more than all international flights.

    I am aware of how polluting the fast fashion industry is and I have made my personal goal reduce the consumption of these types of garments. When I want buy clothes I don’t need, I usually ask myself how much suffering include the design, production, manufacturing and the disposal of a garment of these marks?

    Reply
  21. Angie
    April 15, 2020 at 12:29 am (1 year ago)

    The article is very interesting, specially when you said that people can make ecological changes step by step and focus on small actions, because that´s how I try to act in these kinds of situations. For example, I tried to stop using plastic bags to pick up the poop of my dog because this bag only has one use, and I started to use paper or sheets of a newspaper but the problem is that you have to be aware of the dog in order to put the paper on the grass on time and when you couldn’t it’s very difficult to pick it up and your hand can get dirty. So, I stopped using sheets of a newspaper and now I’m trying to utilize used plastic bags, for example, bread packaging in order to lessen the guilt.

    Reply
  22. Christian S.
    April 15, 2020 at 1:13 am (1 year ago)

    Hi, Liz,

    I have asked some of my English students to reply to your post as we are working on “eco-guilt” in class. I’d appreciate if you accept their comments so I can read them here.

    Thanks for your help

    Christian

    Reply
  23. Santiago Morales
    April 15, 2020 at 2:33 pm (1 year ago)

    361/5000
    Hi Liz.
    Thanks for your post!
    Lately I have been trying to stop using plastic, but it is very difficult for me, even more because of the quarantine, because from time to time I ask for food delivered with Styrofoam and I feel quite overwhelmed. I will take into account your advice to stop getting frustrated whenever I’m not completely ambient-friendly.

    Reply
  24. Juan Sanchez
    April 17, 2020 at 6:26 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Liz,
    I’m concerned about the exaggerated amount of energy power we use every day. Few years ago, I started using electronic devices and electricity only when it was necessary in order to be eco-friendly. For example: Using my computer for important purposes and not for gaming or surfing the web, and I disconnect all electronic devices that are not essential in the night. Later I realized that Colombia electricity mainly comes from hydropower generation which is a renewable energy source. What I was doing wasn’t useful for the environment, the good part is that my electric bill is lower. Now before buying a light bulb or an electronic device I check how much power consume and whether is eco-friendly or not.

    Reply
  25. Monica P.
    April 17, 2020 at 11:58 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Liz,

    I found your article really helpful to avoid the anxiety of causing damages to the environment, I’m especially concern about the use of plastic bags, although in many countries the restrictions of use of this kind of stuff were implemented years ago, in my country this is really in its previous phases..

    So in regions like La Guajira, you find lots of plastic bags surrounding the landscape .. so I usually avoid using that and try to reuse a water bottle and do my part. v

    Reply
  26. Carlos Galindo
    October 7, 2020 at 12:00 am (7 months ago)

    I think that today it is cheaper for companies to pollute and pay the penalty, than to change their structure and stop polluting. Given the above, consumers have great power of choice, as we must buy what pollutes least.

    Reply
  27. Maribeth Martín
    October 7, 2020 at 12:01 am (7 months ago)

    432/5000
    In my opinion it is very important that we do not consider ourselves as beings external to nature, because we are as natural as water or forests, but it is important that we be aware of where the things we consume come from, so my recommendation would be increase our knowledge about the origin and way of production of our food remember that phrase “that your food wiil be your medicine”

    Reply
  28. Mafe Chamo
    October 7, 2020 at 12:08 am (7 months ago)

    Thanks, Liz! Your advices are really appropiated because we need to start for each one of us. At first, little changes and step by step, people around us maybe change too some behaviors, at their time.
    We need to observe to ourselves but without feeling guilt but trying to do the best part in our daily situations.

    Reply
  29. AlejandroOrtiz
    October 7, 2020 at 12:09 am (7 months ago)

    Hi Liz,

    Interest topic. I never heard something about that concept before today. Something that I would to highlight it’s how make feel guilty others about their actions or pressure other to do things they don’t really care is very unproductive. The best way to raise awareness is showing and sharing our actions and achivements in the best way possible.

    Personally, It is very hard trying that everyone in my house has more awareness about this stuff, but a helpful way is relating it with the economic aspect. I know isn’t the best way, but at least they reduce their print.

    Reply
  30. Carlos E.
    October 7, 2020 at 12:09 am (7 months ago)

    Hi Liz, thank you for your recommendations.
    I guess that this is the true struggle of humanity. We should change the global order, otherwise, the next generations will not have a chance.

    Reply
  31. Daniel Arevalo
    October 7, 2020 at 12:11 am (7 months ago)

    A few years ago i was in love with motorcycles, so i learned a lot about petrol engines and i realized that are so unwealty and inefficents. So since two years i have being using bicycle in replacement of my old honda. Somethimes i miss my motorbike because is faster than a bicycle and could achieve more distance in lesser time, but now i do all the effort by my own witouth burning gasoline leaving behind a little bit the eco-gilty that i used to feel when i saw a screen of smoke made by using petrol engines

    Reply
  32. PABLO JOSÉ CAICEDO VEGA
    October 7, 2020 at 12:15 am (7 months ago)

    Hello Liz,
    Great article.
    The awsome thing is to try and try, then we realize that little by little we are doing good for our beloved Earth, from separating the garbage to keep candy wrappers in our pockets.

    Reply
  33. Ronald
    October 7, 2020 at 12:20 am (7 months ago)

    Hi Liz,
    What an interesting topic. Actually, I try to make my best effort in my house. I put the plastic bags inside plastic bottles because a company right here in Colombia use them like plastic bricks. Also, I have a small place to make some vermiculture a recycle the residues of vegetables. Moreover, I collect the wash machine water to use it in the toilet. I will continue trying harder to make little changes, having in mind what you’ve written.

    Reply
  34. Laura De Vega
    October 7, 2020 at 1:45 am (7 months ago)

    Hi Liz!

    This article leads me to think that trying to make a big change on our own could cause us to waste our energy senselessly. We must be informed about what is happening to know that there are things that are under our control to change and others that aren’t. Let’s try to think that individual actions can add up to great changes and don’t think about doing what not even the big ones entities, organizations or the government, which have more control and power, have been able to do it or even don’t care

    Reply
  35. Melisa Parra Prada
    October 7, 2020 at 3:00 am (7 months ago)

    Hello everyone, I think that this topic is really interesting and beyond this it is very important for the present and the future of the planet. In my experience I had not had the opportunity to do something for the planet until two years ago that my brother teach me strategies for take care it and now I am more aware of how important it is
    Thanks for your advices.

    Reply
  36. Catalina A.
    October 7, 2020 at 5:30 am (7 months ago)

    Hi Liz,

    Your article is really interesting and helpful, I’m always concerned because I feel that all changes that I try to do are not enough, I see other people that do more and I feel very disappointing thinking of all the things I could do, your blog helps me to understand that everyone has his own way to contribute to this and that every single help is important.

    Reply
  37. Estefania
    October 7, 2020 at 6:10 am (7 months ago)

    Hi Liz,

    I really liked your ideas and advice, which I find very helpful to ralized that I am an eco-guilt and know what I can do about it, your article it is very relaxing because I especially find it very frustrating to see, for example, that people throw garbage on the streets and do not take care of the environmentor that the goverment of my contry prefers industrialization than protect the lungs of an important part of the country, or minimal things like seeing for sale all the products that I know that cause damage to the environment and not being able to do more than just me not buying it.
    so thanks to you I am kind of relieved because now I am more conscious about that I can not control others actions and I should feel good with the change I am making.

    Reply
  38. Estefania
    October 7, 2020 at 6:12 am (7 months ago)

    Hi Liz,

    I really liked your ideas and advice, which I find very helpful to ralized that I am an eco-guilt and know what I can do about it, your article it is very relaxing because I especially find it very frustrating to see, for example, that people throw garbage on the streets and do not take care of the environmentor that the goverment of my contry prefers industrialization than protect the lungs of an important part of the country, or minimal things like seeing for sale all the products that I know that cause damage to the environment and not being able to do more than just me not buying it.
    so thanks to you I am kind of relieved because now I am more conscious about that I can not control others actions and I should feel good with the change I am making.

    Reply
  39. Juan Carrillo
    October 7, 2020 at 1:22 pm (7 months ago)

    Hi Liz,

    I found your article very interesting. I think that it can be very helpful for many people that would want to do something to save the planet.

    The article is very useful for me because I want to teach other people, how they can begin to take care of the environment. Moreover, I’m very shocked about how much water is wasted in the world. Some people take a shower three times per day, leave the faucet running while brushing their teeth, etc. It’s very sad to know that the people don’t have consciousness about the damage to the planet.

    Reply
  40. Maria Fernanda Forero
    October 7, 2020 at 10:10 pm (7 months ago)

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you so much!! Great job!!
    The guidance you give us is very valuable to have a friendlier attitude towards the planet.

    I consider that people are more aware of the problems that have generated climate change, and now we focus our actions on preserving natural resources, and it seems important to me that we return to some practices from before so as not to use so many electrical appliances, as is the case the dryer and take advantage of the sun to dry the clothes.

    And the most importance is try to protect our world with sustainable actions.

    Reply
  41. Mariana Barrera
    October 8, 2020 at 11:01 am (7 months ago)

    Hi Liz,
    I find what you write here very interesting. In my case I have tried in various ways to be friendlier and make use of ecology in more than one thing in my life. However, it is true that I cannot control several aspects, because until now I am starting and because of some advertisements and people I have felt that I do not do enough. All your advice seems necessary and useful to me to continue on this path and begin to improve gradually. Thanks for writing this.

    Reply

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