Making a change can be overwhelming and scary. Many people are held back by intimidation, fear, worry, and fatigue. With Earth Day fast approaching, I wanted to take some time to provide you with some useful tips for making JUST ONE change that can have a positive impact on our precious planet. You have to start somewhere, so let’s start with choosing just one thing to do to preserve and protect our natural resources.
First, if you’re going to make a change, you need to get inspired. If you are not fired up about it in some way, you’re not likely to stick with it. So don’t follow the crowd and do something trendy, find something you’re really truly interested in or something that has a meaningful connection to you.
If you are not inspired by the idea of using a travel bottle instead of purchasing plastic bottled water, then don’t try to jump on the stainless water bottle train. Maybe instead you LOVE adorable totes. Put them to good use by using them for shopping instead of the plastic bags at the store. When you are excited by what you’re doing, you will keep doing it.
Lasso in your dreams of becoming an off-the-grid, homesteading, enviro-wizard, and set a small, specific goal. Instead of declaring yourself paper-free by the end of the month, set your sights on one specific way you can reduce your paper use.
Maybe you want to buy cloth napkins for dinner instead of paper. Maybe you decide to buy some re-usable cups for the bathroom and ditch your Dixie cup habit (even though they are so cute). Maybe you decide to limit your paper plate use to weekends only and use regular plates during the week.
The idea is to set a limited and specific goal (so you would only pick one of the afore-mentioned ideas). You can always expand to new micro-goals once this step becomes easy and habitual. Set yourself up for lots of little successes rather than one epic failure.
Invite others to join you. This is about more than just accountability, this is about creating a culture that supports the change you want to initiate. So ask your partner, your best friend, your desk mate at work, or your next-door neighbor to make a change with you.
Share your excitement and your plans for success with supportive people. When those surrounding you are invested in what you are doing, they will not only hold you accountable, but they will be walking along side you, sharing in your struggles and triumphs.
Making change and creating new habits is HARD work, even if we have set the most perfect specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goal on the planet (the above tips are based on the idea of creating SMART goals). Set a time frame, and celebrate once you’ve successfully reached your goal for that time frame. When we make time to celebrate our successes, we are much more likely to continue our hard work.
Maybe you want to go one full week using your reusable water bottle instead of buying a bottle of water from the vending machine each day. Once you’ve made it one week, brag about your hard work to your friends and family, and find a way to reward yourself. Maybe that reward is an ice cream treat, or maybe it’s that cute thermal cozy for the water bottle you saw on Etsy. Either way, be sure to “treat yo-self!” (where my Parks & Rec fans at?). Then set a slightly more difficult goal or longer period of time and then treat yo-self again!
Good luck friends! I am excited to hear about what changes and new habits you plan to initiate, so please share what positive environmental changes you will be making this year.
Ideas to get you started
Here are 20 ideas of easy things you can do right now to have a positive impact on the environment.
- Use re-usable water bottles!
- Use cloth dinner napkins and use those at dinner instead of paper.
- Purchase beverages in large bottles (liters or gallons) rather than using juice boxes, soda cans, and plastic bottled beverages.
- Have a recycle bin craft day! If your kids (or yourself) are into making crafts, dive into your recycle bin a day or two before pick up and make some fun stuff with the idea of either creating something useful or putting it in the recycle bin the next day.
- Commit to buying certain items used.
- Log on to a local trading website like Freecycle and try to pass on things you don’t want or use to others who may use them instead of throwing them away.
- Take public transport, walk, or bike to one destination during the week.
- Start a carpool!
- Turn the thermostat down (or up depending on the season) by a few degrees.
- Start a compost pile!
- Plant, grow, and harvest something you eat a lot of (tomatoes & cucumbers in my house).
- Start recycling if you don’t already.
- Use real plates & utensils instead of disposable.
- Buy items in bulk with less packaging.
- Pay bills online instead of using envelopes and stamps.
- Install a rain barrel and use that water for your yard & garden.
- Commit to watering your lawn less (or stop all together).
- Set a timer and shorten your shower by a couple minutes.
- Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth.
- Take the time to fix leaky faucets and running toilets.