Over the last few months I have had a few comments regarding the success -or more precisely lack of success- of our green project. It has even been suggested that I am not helping the green cause by describing the difficulties I sometimes have. I feel the time has come to defend myself!
Changing your lifestyle is a big effort, nobody does that overnight. Changing to a seriously green lifestyle is huge, because it impacts on every single bit of your life! It impacts on what you eat, what you do, how you travel, what you buy, what you use, what you don’t use, your energy consumption, what you waste, what you teach your kids – the list could go on. No area of life is safe from environmental dilemmas.
I am going to stick my neck out and make the claim that the main difference between a lot of the people who claim to be serious about the environment and me is that I admit to having gaps in my green lifestyle. (OK, quite a few gaps) I am not saying this to be mean and I most definitely don’t want to criticize anybody’s efforts, but I think it is important to realise the complexity of the situation – and just because somebody has gaps in other places than me that doesn’t necessarily make them greener.
The other argument about not spelling out how difficult it is to become green is to me frankly nonsense. Making everybody believe that turning green is easy and straightforward is not helpful, the truth will very quickly become known and make anybody trying to change feel like a failure.
I recently looked at a model created to show successful lifestyle changes and one of the key elements is ‘expect relapses’. If you are changing to healthier eating expect to still have a piece of cake from time to time – it doesn’t mean everything is lost. If you are turning towards a more active lifestyle expect to have days when the exercise routine won’t get done – but that isn’t equal to the end of the project. So when I sometimes end up taking the easy solution, then I am actually just being human (Nice to get that confirmed…)
Another key element of a successful lifestyle change is apparently congratulating yourself on progress – don’t dwell on the times things go wrong, focus on the progress that does happen.
So this is where I stand:
This project is not failing just because we own a car and I occasionally drive it to the school.
we are not failing simply on the grounds that my son loves blueberries and I on the odd day give in and buy some in the supermarket imported from Argentina.
It is not a failure just because I admit to disliking public transport.
It is not the end simply because I haven’t signed up for a veg box scheme yet
It can still be a success even if we ended up booking flights to go see much missed family
In fact our green family project is succeeding because:
I walk my daughter to school at least nine times out of ten
I am trying to grow my own vegetables
I got on my bike last week and enjoyed it, even if I completely underestimated the route and almost gave myself a heart attack trying to go up a steep hill.
we have reduced our meat intake and saved money in the process
even my friends have accepted and support my changed priorities -one gave me a gardening book as a present
Our energy bills haven’t gone through the roof
I recently managed to have a conversation about renewable energy without sounding like an idiot
my daughter switches off the lights to help the polar bears
I do go on public transport sometimes, although not with joy
and most of all:
I have had comments regarding this blog saying that it had actually made people sit up, think and take some form of action.
To me that is success!
It is only just over 6 months since me and my family started the process and there has been a lot to take onboard in a short space of time. The most important thing I have learned so far is that being green is very complex. It is like putting a jigsaw of a 1000 pieces together: it takes a long time, some areas you can put together quite easily, others take a lot more effort – but focussing on just one piece or claiming that the right hand corner is more important than the left is pointless, you need the whole picture.