Eco Guilt and How to Overcome It

Let’s talk about eco guilt. A term that crops up more and more these days. What is it? More importantly, how do we stop it?

I have experienced my own share of eco guilt, but I am starting to overcome it.

Eco Guilt – A Definition

The feeling you get when you could have done something for the environment, but consciously made the decision not to.  – Urban Dictionary

This is the basic meaning.

How many times have you thrown something in the bin that could have been recycled? Or had to buy another 10p plastic bag when you had one at home you could have used? You get the idea.

If you recognise these actions and are now thinking “Oh no, this is bad, I bought a plastic water bottle yesterday, instead of bringing my reusable one from home”, well stop right there. This is the eco guilt talking.

Instead of letting these feelings affect your mental health and constantly having that nagging voice at the back of your head, here are things to remember:

Use Eco Guilt as Motivation to be Eco-Friendly

When the eco guilt feelings creep up on you, don’t just continue life as normal with these feelings. Use them to motivate you and change the situation!

It may seem hard at first to swap to a more sustainable version of something, but after a short time, it becomes second nature.

See what is happening locally too.

Recently, I’ve noticed more crisp packet recycling schemes starting and things that can’t go in my standard recycling, such as black plastic food packaging, now gets taken to M&S as they have are able to recycle it.

Eco-Realism – Little Things Help

I know I say it all the time, but doing what you can is better than nothing.

It is important to be realistic and accept that in this day and age, it is hard to environmental in every aspect of life.

It’s not like we all live in solar powered wooden huts with composting toilets (I may be stereotyping there, but hopefully you understand what I’m getting at).

I am a firm believer that if we all start taking action, even just by 1 or 2 eco-friendly life adjustments, then this attitude can spread and then make it easier to increase the number of greener lifestyle changes.

Everyone Has Different Circumstances

When overcoming eco guilt, it’s important to remember that no one is the same. We all have different living circumstances and that means that our environmental actions might be different.

I have experienced eco guilt regarding my health care. It shocks me just how much single-use plastic is used in hospitals.

Everything is disposable and wrapped in further plastic.

The reason for this though is hygiene and health.

When I’m in hospital, it’s because I need to be, so I have accepted that this is a part of my life that is harder to make sustainable.

It doesn’t mean I can’t make other areas of my life more sustainable.

This goes for everyone. You change what you have the power and ability to change.

Have you ever experienced eco guilt? Have you managed to beat it? Let me know!