How To Make Sustainable Living A Habit Not A Hassle

The adage says that forming a lasting habit takes 21 days, but that simply isn't true.

Research suggests that forming a long lasting habit can take anywhere between 18 to 254 days. So given that there is no magic number, how can you create long lasting habits that will serve both you and the environment?

First things first; give yourself a bit of leeway. It's more than likely that you'll fall off the wagon once or twice (or three times). But how you recover is key.

Forgive yourself

If you give in to the "What the hell effect", coined by Doctor Janet Polivy at the University of Toronto, you'll be beating yourself up for forgetting one thing, like your reusable shopping bags, and then because you're feeling a bit guilty and downtrodden you'll buy a whole heap of single-use products, and then you've really blown it so why not get your coffee in a take away cup, and before you know it you've blown all of your sustainability habits.

Go into this knowing that you'll have a few slips ups and that that is totally ok.

Don't try and do it all at once

On that note, don't get caught up in doing everything all the time. Often if you tell someone that you're being more climate conscious they might say, "yeah but you still do this [insert habit here] so you're a hypocrite". Firstly, their opinion doesn't matter, but it's nice to have a rebuttal on hand anyway!

I think it's important to realise that every bit counts and it's better for us to do what we're capable of, wholeheartedly, rather than to attempt everything at once, then fall off the wagon when things start slipping by.

You don't have to be perfect to start contributing in a positive way. Pick a behaviour you'd like to change and then start chipping away at it.

Do an audit

I'd recommend looking at your life and seeing which areas you think will be easiest to change and starting there (unless you're a type A and just want to blitz everything in which case you do you!).

At the start of my journey I realised that I had a lot of single-use items in my life; straws, coffee cups, glad wrap, shopping bags. These items were pretty easy to phase out. I put shopping bags in my car, on my door, in the draw at my desk. I got two keep cups, (actually one was just an old jar that I washed out), and left one at work and one at home. I compiled a plastic-free toolkit and made it hard for myself not to use it.

Once I had this down I started to look to more challenging areas in my life, like my meat consumption. I've always been a meat eater and had truly seen no reason to question this learned behaviour. Until I did. I found that making small changes in my life was starting to inspire me to make the bigger ones. I started by cutting down on the meat I ate, skipping it at lunch and only opting for grain fed, but ever so slowly (over almost two years) I've found myself in a position where I eat close to no meat at all. This is a great read for anyone wanting to start the journey.

I think the most important part of this was that I was doing what felt right for me at every step. It's wasn't a chore, but an empowering choice.

You might also like to look at your energy consumption, the clothes you wear, your food waste, and personal finances.

Image: The Rogue Ginger

Your vibe attracts your tribe

Surround yourself with people on the same journey. You can do this by joining a land/beach care group, becoming part of a climate conscious community, attending workshops in your city. Or, if you can't do it face to face then join a virtual community (like 1 million Women), follow your favourite eco-goddess on social media and don't be afraid to reach out!

Keep on trucking

Habits are formed through repetition, so just keep doing it!

Before long you'll be the one that your friend group goes to when they want to know how to cook tofu so that it actually tastes good, how to make climate friendly beauty products , how to ride a bike in a busy city, or what are the best and easiest vegetarian work week dinners.

Read this next: 7 Tips for minimalist living

Banner image: Shutterstock

Bindi Donnelly Former Head of Digital Suggest an article Send us an email

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