A sparrow is sitting on a metal fence, surrounded by a loop of barbed wire. only the silhouette of the bird is visible. The sky behind it is red, perhaps because of a sandstorm or a sun set.

How to stay on track with your sustainability efforts when you feel overwhelmed or discouraged?

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I’ve been there. I am sure many of you have been there as well.

When we have decided to pay attention to sustainability and begin an eco-lifestyle, we are often pretty determined and excited. We understand that it is a crucial action to take for the future and have prepared to make better decisions and change our lifestyle for immense good. And suddenly, we begin to get slaps on our faces, maybe from several directions. Discouraging comments from others, perhaps from your close ones, belittling, excuses, and even despise.

As I said, I’ve been there. And I will be there again. What to do when your best efforts feel insufficient or when you don’t have the energy to aim at your best – not even at a satisfactory level? What to do when you hear from others how unnecessary and unimportant your concerns and goals are, and how you should focus on “real” problems instead?

When eco-lifestyle feels overwhelming, ask yourself these questions

  • How essential, genius, and fabulous is nature?
  • What is worth the effort I am taking?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • What are the threats?
  • Who or what are the ones that will be the most affected by the consequences if nothing changes?
  • Who am I?
  • What is my mood right now?
  • What is my role in all this change?
  • What might be why the other person does not see or want to see the importance of this? If that is the case.

The answers to most of these questions are often evident and easy to find. I can see my biggest whys from there and admiration, purpose, thankfulness, compassion, challenge, self-growth, and belonging – to mention a few. The answers are different for everyone, but they are there.

Other types of reminders

Sometimes it is worth taking a look at the ugly truth. Watch a documentary about the condition of our oceans or the consequences of deforestation. Most of the documentaries have this approach, so it is not difficult to find one. Sometimes even a single picture can be enough. When I struggle with my vegetarian diet, a clip of a pet chicken throws me back on track. Cleaning up beaches also is an excellent reminder of why I don’t want to bring plastic nonsense in our house anymore.

But we also need other types of facts and different kinds of reasons. Everything does not need to come through negativity or suffer. Environment and everyday life are full of positive reminders. Read or watch something about the brilliance of nature. Or refresh your memory why working ecosystems are essential for our surveillance. When walking outdoors, every single detail of nature is full of superior plan and wisdom.

Positivity is essential for our mindsets. You see – when we talk and read about the environment and sustainability, we see all that is wrong. That is the reason why type one reminders are so readily available. It’s thrown at our faces – all the devastating consequences of unsustainability and greed. Those brutal facts can be influential – sometimes – but if we ride only with those, our minds end up being full of negativity, suffer and despair. That destroys our energy in the long run. Luckily we have other types of reminders as well.

The third type of reminder is more personal. As parents, we can see those in our children. Life goes on after us. But now, we are embedding the future of theirs and their children. When the eco-burden hits, I take a look at my child.

What do I feel when I see children at the refugee camps fleeing from the areas unsuitable for a living – no matter the reason. How would the same situation look like with my child or her children? How are they different?

How was nature different when my grandmother or I were little? What has been and will be to vanish of that during my daughter’s lifetime? What do I want to try to restore for her?

These are empowering questions.

A girl with a flower. A 6-year-old girl is walking on the field; it's later afternoon hours. She is holding a red flower in her hand - the same color as her dress is. She has dark brown curly hair and deep brown beautiful eyes. The sun is shining, making the hay look like green gold.
Let's save our planet for future generations.
What will be left for our children to experience if we don’t protect our environment?

But yes, circumstances or other people can sometimes push us down. As I said, I’ve been there. And I will be there again. But I have my tools to bounce back, and my whys are precise in my mind. These tools will also work for you. Keep on going on your path towards a sustainable lifestyle. Show compassion no less to yourself than to others, but keep going. It is worth it. The Earth, us, and the future generations need it.

Featured image: Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay 
Girl with a flower: Анна Хазова from Pexels

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