Before you start composting, green cleaning, recycling, and camping, let’s remember the basics: Start simple. Start small. Start with what suits you and your family’s needs. Once you begin making simple, affordable, and very significant changes to your life, you will see that green living begins to reveal itself to you. Once you feel that a change is seamless and for the most part unnoticed, you will find the desire, ability, and energy to search for new ways to make green changes. And, once your energy bill numbers start falling, and your own kinetic energy starts growing, you will have a green smile on your face, and more money waiting for that rainy day.
The one problem that you may encounter with living green, as with all new changes, is that you may start off full of energy, passion, and drive, which may then fade over time. Green living is not a passing fad. Sure, it is trendy right now, and it is very media worthy. And that, in turn, can create pressure to make fast changes, big changes, and short-lived changes. Who hasn’t tried that faddish crash diet for a few weeks, only to get frustrated, disappointed, and completely ravished with hunger before chucking it out the window? We all do it.
The best way to ensure that green living becomes second nature in your home is to make it a part of your family life. Let’s look at it like this: Imagine your green lifestyle is similar to maintaining a clean house. There are two approaches to cleaning a home. You can attack it with random bursts of energy. (“No one call me for a week. I will be cleaning.”) Then fall, exhausted, onto the couch where you lie in cleaning hibernation for months at a time. Your home will be clean, but it isn’t easy to muster that strength to do it again, and mounting a fast and furious attack can leave you frustrated and dreading the next round of cleaning. The other approach is to maintain it, little by little, doing small, easy, daily tasks, divided among and focusing on involving the entire family along the way. This keeps it steady, clean, and functioning while still leaving time for play and relaxation.
We believe the easiest way to maintain a clean house, and a green house, is to do a little at a time, do what is best for you, and do it as you go. Not only does cleaning become effortless after a while, but it also becomes a part of your everyday life. With the same approach to making simple, green changes, after doing it for so long, it will become your “lifestyle” rather than your “green lifestyle.”
We can’t emphasize enough that although many of these tips are easy and very user-friendly, some of them just may not be for you. That is okay. There is no shame and no fault in realizing that you can’t do it all. None of us is perfect. And none of us is a perfect environmentalist. You, as your own person, need to make the best green decisions for you and your family. That will ensure that you live a green, productive, and happy life rather than a high-maintenance, unaffordable, overly green, faddish lifestyle.
It is important to understand that every new change in life comes with just as many setbacks before you can move forward.
Although it is very important to give yourself praise for making this important decision, it is also necessary to give yourself room to fail. You will attempt to make a green change, want it to happen with all your heart, only to realize that it just doesn’t work for you and your family. We wanted to use cloth diapers. We were determined to avoid the use of disposable diapers and were outraged by the number of diapers that end up in our landfills. Until we faced our first raging diaper rash, wailing baby, and soiled floor. Not to mention the amount of water, energy, and detergent needed to clean those environmentally friendly diapers. Yes, we failed. And that is okay. You will fail, too, at times, and it is important to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again, knowing that the green changes that you are making and continue to make will create fantastic and significant global change.
Remember, you aren’t in this to compete with your newly green neighbor. And you aren’t in this for anyone other than yourself and your family, so don’t allow the green naysayers out there to convince you to stray from your goals. Yes, they are out there: The people who feel guilty that they aren’t doing something, so they want to disparage you for doing what you can. They will attack you when you do not meet their expectations for what they think you should be doing. So, when your intruding neighbor says, “You know, for – a person living a green lifestyle, you really shouldn’t be driving as much as you do,” you can say, with a pleasant smile, “You’re right! I’m not doing everything. But, I am doing something.” And that is what will ultimately keep our world green and happy.