zero waste

Sustainability and guilt

I’ve been thinking about sustainability a lot lately. You can probably tell by the number of posts I’ve been writing lately. Every angle of sustainability I could look at, I tried my best to do just that.


I don’t think I can even pinpoint the reason behind my current obsession. Maybe I should attribute some of that focus due to my recent struggles with keeping my life on the Path to Less. While I’ve been doing relatively well on the minimalist front, keeping my diet more sustainable and buying things that are not packaged in plastic remained a major struggle for me.

And so every time I think about the progress I’ve made, there’s the ever-present guilt.

Because I could be doing better. I could be more sustainable. The items I own, use and throw away, could have less impact on the environment. I could look for things that were made out of more sustainable materials.

I’m just too lazy. I just don’t have enough time. I am too tired to put in the effort.

I’m guilty of so many things.

And it occurred to me today, that I’m probably not the only one who feels like that. Just like I was probably not the only person thinking about taking a break from zero waste.

If you care enough about a cause, you feel guilty if you don’t meet the standard you have put for yourself. I think that’s the aspect that I struggle with the most. Not the actual failures. The guilt.

Sure, guilt can be a great motivator at times. But perhaps (at least for me) it’s an even bigger deterrent.

Because the easiest way to avoid feeling guilty over failure is not to attempt that thing at all.

Just write it off as too hard and don’t put in an effort.

Which is why I have to keep telling myself: every little step is enough. Every imperfection is better than nothing. Every extra effort I put in is worth so much more.

Because when it comes to sustainability I’m not really fighting with the corporations or the government that doesn’t implement recycling and composting schemes in my neighborhood. The real fight is against me. My laziness and my guilt.

It’s more difficult to define sustainability. At times it feels more abstract than minimalism and zero waste, movements which have almost defined rules of engagement. It takes more effort because you have to do more research and be even more mindful. And so the failure to do those things can be placed on my own shoulder that much easier. Corporations didn’t make me watch Netflix instead of researching the production line of a dress I want to buy to make sure it wasn’t made in a sweatshop in Bangladesh. I made that choice. And it can only be my fault.

That’s the black hole I fall into when guilt hits me. And it’s not that easy to dig yourself out of it.

You might be asking yourself, why am I sharing this with the Internet?

Because people struggle with different things and some of those struggles are mental. Some of them get down to that pesky guilt. I don’t think I’m special, so I can’t be the only one doing this dance of feeling guilty, giving up on a cause I feel I failed, and trying to talk myself back to my initial enthusiasm.

Oh God, please tell me I’m not the only one weird like this!

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