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Overcoming Overwhelm: How to Start Your Sustainability Journey

Living a sustainable lifestyle can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re just starting out. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of completely transforming every aspect of your life to be more eco-friendly. However, it’s important to remember that sustainability is a journey, and it’s okay to take it one step at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed.

In this blog, we’ll explore ways to get started on your sustainability journey. With our tips and advice, you’ll be well on your way to creating sustainable living goals that work for you.

Why living sustainably can feel overwhelming

Various factors can contribute to that paralysing feeling when we want to start a big lifestyle change.

One major contributor is eco-anxiety, a term used to describe the anxiety and stress caused by concerns about the environment and climate change. The enormity of these global issues can make it difficult to know where to start or how to make a meaningful impact. We speak about this to some extent in this other article.

Another reason for feeling overwhelmed is the perception that sustainable living requires significant planning and effort. Many people believe that they have to completely overhaul their lifestyles and reduce waste dramatically to make a difference. This attitude can lead to feelings of guilt and inadequacy, further adding to the overwhelm.

Furthermore, changing deeply ingrained habits is never easy, and sustainable living often involves breaking away from convenient, environmentally damaging practices. This can be daunting and require a lot of discipline and commitment.

However, it’s important to remember that living sustainably doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. By taking small, step-by-step actions, you can gradually make lasting changes that align with your personal sustainability values and goals. Celebrate your small victories along the way, and remember that every sustainable choice you make, no matter how small, adds up to make a positive difference.

In this blog, we’ll explore practical strategies and tips to help you overcome that paralysing overwhelming feeling and embark on your sustainability journey guilt-free. By identifying eco-friendly products that work for you, developing a sustainable mindset, and finding support and accountability, you’ll be well on your way to creating achievable and meaningful sustainability goals.

1 Understanding your personal sustainability values and goals

What matters most to you?

A wooden board with some post-its related to goal setting
Focus on what is relevant for you

Understanding your personal sustainability values and goals is crucial when embarking on a sustainability journey. Take the time to reflect on what matters most to you and what changes you are willing to make in your lifestyle. This process involves assessing your current habits and identifying areas where you can make more sustainable choices.

Do you care about reducing waste in your kitchen, conserving energy, or reducing your meat consumption? Whatever it is that resonates with you, once you have identified your priorities, break them down into smaller, manageable goals.

It’s important to remember that change takes time and it’s okay to start small. By aligning your actions with your values, you will feel more motivated and empowered to make a meaningful impact on the environment.

2 Breaking down sustainable living into achievable steps

When it comes to living sustainably, breaking down the process into achievable steps can make all the difference. Start by identifying one or two habits that you want to change. Whether it’s reducing your plastic waste, conserving energy, or supporting local and sustainable businesses, focus on specific actions that are realistic for you. By taking small, gradual steps towards sustainable living, you’ll build momentum and confidence in your ability to make a positive impact.

 

Remember, it’s not about perfection, but rather progress. Embrace the journey and celebrate each step you take towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

 

For example, if reducing waste is a priority for you, start by implementing small changes like using a reusable water bottle, carrying a reusable shopping bag, or composting food scraps. As these habits become ingrained in your daily routine, you can gradually take on bigger challenges, like reducing single-use plastic in your home or adopting a more sustainable diet.

Remember, sustainability is not about being perfect; it’s about making conscious choices that align with your values and doing your best within your means. Don’t be discouraged if you have setbacks or find it difficult to stick to your goals all the time. It’s a learning process, and every small step towards a more sustainable lifestyle counts.

Seek support and inspiration from like-minded individuals or online communities. Share your successes and challenges, and learn from others who are on a similar journey. Remember, you’re not alone in this, and together we can make a difference.

By overcoming overwhelm and setting achievable sustainability goals, you can create a more meaningful and sustainable lifestyle. Take it one step at a time, celebrate your progress, and continue learning and growing along the way. You have the power to make a positive impact on the planet, so embrace this journey with optimism and determination.

A child with animal print leggings is crossing across a set of hanging wooden planks that build up a path
Small steps for big results

3 Developing a sustainable mindset

Living sustainably is not just about changing habits, but also about adopting a new way of thinking and approaching life. Developing a sustainable mindset involves shifting your perspective and understanding the interconnectedness of our actions and their impact on the environment.

  • Start by educating yourself about the environmental issues and challenges we face. This knowledge will empower you to make more informed choices and take actions that align with your sustainability goals. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who share your values, whether it’s joining online communities or attending sustainability events. These connections can provide support, inspiration, and valuable insights.
  • It’s also important to practise mindfulness and self-reflection. Take a moment to pause and consider the consequences of your choices. Ask yourself if there are alternative, more sustainable options available. By cultivating a mindful approach to consumption, you can reduce waste, make conscious purchasing decisions, and support ethical and sustainable brands.
  • Finally, be open to continuous learning and growth. Remember that sustainability is a journey, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. Use each experience as an opportunity to learn and improve. By developing a sustainable mindset, you’ll not only make positive changes in your own life but also inspire others to do the same. Together, we can create a more sustainable future.

4 Celebrating small victories

Each step you take, no matter how small, is a significant contribution towards a more sustainable future. By acknowledging and celebrating these accomplishments, you can stay motivated and inspired to continue making positive changes.

We already know that setting realistic sustainability goals is key to ensuring that you can achieve them. Be honest with yourself about what changes you are capable of making and what actions align with your values. Start by focusing on one or two specific areas that you feel passionate about and break them down into smaller, manageable tasks.

This way, you can track your progress and celebrate the completion of each task. Remember that progress takes time so be patient with yourself and celebrate every milestone, no matter how small.

Finding ways to reward yourself for reaching your sustainability goals can also be helpful in staying motivated. Whether it’s treating yourself to a small indulgence or spending quality time doing something you enjoy, acknowledging your efforts will boost your confidence and make you more likely to continue on your sustainability journey.

3 girls covered in colour dust raising their arms in celebration
Celebrate small victories. Even better if in good company.

5 Finding support and accountability in your sustainability journey

Making changes to your lifestyle can be challenging, which is why finding support and accountability is essential. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who are on a similar journey can provide encouragement, motivation, and valuable insights.

Join online communities or attend sustainability events to connect with others who share your passion for living sustainably. You can also find an accountability buddy or create a sustainability group to share your goals, progress, and challenges. Having someone to hold you accountable and celebrate your successes will keep you inspired and motivated. Walking the sustainability journey and celebrating achievements together can be much more enjoyable!

 

Some more resources to overcome sustainability overwhelm

1 Climate Psychology organisations

I found these great organisations whose resources can help to overcome climate overwhelm: the Climate Psychology Alliance in the UK and the Institut for Climate-psychology in Germany. There are probably others in your country too. If you find any please share and I will add them to the list

2 The Green Cloud Nine's sustainable living guide.

Easy, guilt-free tips organised by category. Grab yours now. Available in 5 languages!

English / German / Spanish / French / Portuguese

3 Top-rated books

I have also collected some interesting books in different languages to help you get started***:

 German Books   


Nachhaltigkeit Lernen  Nachhaltigkeit: 125 Fragen und Antworten Zero Waste - so geht´s
Zero Waste Küche Klimagefühle Klimaangst

  


English Books

 
Holistic Homesteading Practical Self-sufficiency The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide
Climate Change for Young People: The Antidote to Eco-anxiety Sustainable Sal - Your Go-To Guide For Greener Living

Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Eco-Anxiety

 

 

Remember, creating a sustainable lifestyle is a continuous process, and it’s perfectly okay to make mistakes along the way. Don’t let it mind-bog you. Celebrate your achievements, learn from your setbacks, and keep moving forward. With each small victory, you are making a meaningful impact on the environment and inspiring others to do the same. 

 

 

Lola Fernandez wearing a green jacket on a golden wheat background

Lola is the founder of Green Cloud Nine. Nature lover and environmental activist since she was a teenager, Lola has always been a great fan of homesteading and she is continuously experimenting and finding her own way to be more self-sufficient and sustainable.

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Article also published in our founder's blog: My Shade of Green