Sustainable living is hard work

It’s also incredibly rewarding but sometimes, it’s just very frustrating and depressing!

Oak tree

Do you ever wonder why it is so difficult for us to be live sustainable life now? How did we get here, when it seems that most eco-friendly tips are leading us to live our lives the way people live theirs, a couple decades back?

Why has it become so difficult to live sustainably?

Most tips on how to live a greener life, a more sustainable life, include reducing our trash, eating less meat, composting, gardening, repairing, reusing… This used to be a normal way of life for most people.

Now, it’s hard work!

I read recently, again I must say, how it’s a near impossible task for people who are near broke to make environmental friendly choices. The list of things cited was obvious and yet mind opening and worth repeating. They can’t just install solar panels, buy an electric car or even eco friendly clothes (which cost a pretty penny compare to fast fashion clothes). They can’t just insulate the home they are renting or change the windows…

Yes, of course, they are almost always alternatives to our most damaging behaviours. But that is the thing, for most, they are a lot of work.

Finding the most eco-friendly products takes time. You might not even get to find what you are looking for. Making sense of the labels, being mindful of greenwashing… it’s going to soon take a PhD to navigate how clever companies have become to trick us into thinking their products are eco friendly, when they really aren’t.

Sure, you can sort your trash and turn off the lights. This is far from enough. Of course, you can reduce your consumption of meat, go vegan even! It’s a no brainer although difficult for many. You can take shorter showers, you can ban single use plastic from your life, you can do all the things that are in the usual lists and implement all the usual tips. It will still feel like no enough.

I’ve said it before, somewhere, I totally admire the people who produce a single small jar of trash per year. I’m so far from it. Especially with the new apartment. I’m actually now a gazillion light year away from that jar. It’s shameful.

Yet, I’m trying to create an environment that is sustainable. From the hard work floors to the new kitchen, we only chose options that had zero VOC emission and from companies that have strong environmental commitments. Surprisingly, it wasn’t easy. Some companies asked me, what are VOC?

There are plenty of others things where we weren’t given a choice. And other things where I gave up.

For example, we couldn’t get A appliances. Apparently with the new EU rating, there aren’t any at the moment that can be classified as A. The ones that used to be A+++ are now merely a C or D, or something like that. I don’t really know but there was nothing available.

So we did our best and it feels our best wasn’t enough.

I often feel like giving up

In all honesty, I sometimes feel like giving up completely. I don’t feel like my actions can make a difference and that what ever I choose to do, will not have an impact. I’m exhausted in general and particularly about trying so hard to reduce my trash, to live a greener life, to only make eco-friendly choice and live a sustainable life in general.

I sometimes feel like: F@ck it all

I’m childfree anyway, I don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen to my non existent children. I’m just going to enjoy the next couple years at the fullest extend possible and see the things I want to see, before it’s too late.

Sure I’ll suffer from climate change too, I already do. It’s going to get way too hot for me. I might at one point or another, suffer from extreme weather conditions, floods for example, or else. I don’t think I would be amongst the population to be displaced, to become Climat refugees, but there sure could be a lot around me. I will certainly suffer from droughts and all the Climat issues which will have a dramatic impact on the prices of food.

But until it gets really bad, a few last good years, no worrying about the pollution I create, sounds pretty good!

Let others worry about it and carpe diem…

Yellow flowers

And then I remember…

… I’m not wired that way.

In truth, looking for ways to be more sustainable has not made me miserable, on the contrary. It’s been frustrating. It has taken time, more than it should have. Often, it has been a lot of work but it has also been extremely rewarding.

Finding the perfect eco-friendly product, amongst the vast quantity of non eco-friendly alternatives, feels amazing… It’s like you found the Graal!

Not buying anything because you didn’t find something that was perfect actually feels amazing too! You kept your standards, you resisted the urge, you are a champion!

Doing something yourself, like renovating an old piece of furniture is highly satisfactory.

Creating your own things, let it be purely decorative or useful pieces, adds meaning to the thing you made. These things often become conversation starter too!

Indeed, there is something rewarding about a finished project, but the rewards are also in the process. The peaceful time you spent on it, instead of Netflix. The aches and frustration that may come with the work to be done. Seeing the progress and then doubting your choice, only to love the way it turned out to be perfectly imperfect nevertheless!

And let’s not forget another bonus along the way.

Because while one tries to live a sustainable life, one learns plenty!

It might be as obvious as the new skills you learn while doing some DIY projects, some renovation or upscaling or even while cooking from scratch. You might also simply learn ‘patience‘, because patience is often required while looking for the perfect product. Indeed, you will also learn to decode labels and will soon get a PhD in anti greenwashing!

Something else I found out I’m learning is to spot quality. Quality of fabric, stitches and details. This comes from me trying to sew my own clothes, but I certainly could have paid attention to this earlier.

I’m really learning to spot quality in other areas too. Light fixtures is one! Welding is another 😉 These are examples based on my present circumstances but they show that a keen eye can be acquired.

More importantly, I’m learning to love simplicity. To enjoy and even thrive with less is a process for many. An extremely rewarding process for sure.

And finally I’m also learning to be more compassionate and empathic toward people. If I see someone eating with a plastic fork, I no longer want to shove it down their throat. Admittedly, I still struggle in winter with people and the fur trim on their coat because… well… I’m working on that. I’m a human in progress. Still learning.

And there really is plenty to learn. Aren’t we all here to learn after all?

So indeed, I’m certainly still learning and despite the hard work and frustration, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

How do you cope with the frustration and despair? Any tips you want to share?

Sky and sun

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