Want to help the Planet – 13 Habits that will make a difference (Part 2)

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Part II of my guide about the 13 Habits that will help you live a more sustainable life and help save the planet. One step at a time.

Did you miss the first part? You can find it here: Part I.

9. Be kind to the planet, others and yourself

“No war can be won by beating yourself or your team up.”

This habit is less about physical sustainability and more about a sustainable mindset.

Don’t get me wrong, even with the right mindset you will struggle, because humans (like most other animals) like routine. Our brain is wired to save energy and routines help achieve that.

This means that changing habits, especially comfortable or lazy habits, will be challenging. Normally, our brain does not want to burn calories to figure new things out.

Having a purpose helps, because you know you are investing in your future. You can see the impact it has in the long run. But to help you stay on track, you also need to have a sustainable mindset.

Writing on the wall - Be kind whenever possible.
We cannot change the world to a better place without kindness. Copyright: Lorie Shaull/ Flickr

Be disciplined, but kind to yourself

Discipline is certainly not my favorite word. It sounds rigid, and like no fun. But remember that your brain loves to automate actions (=create a routine) so that it can save calories? I found that setting myself clear goals like “1 month without plastic” or “60-Days without added sugar” and working steadily towards achieving it, day by day, helped me.

Did I manage to avoid plastic completely? – No. But Iwas able to reduce the amount greatly AND teach myself the habit to become very conscious of plastic traps. Paying attention and being aware of alternatives is paying half the rent.

The same goes for my sugar consumption. Since my 60-Day challenge I have been keenly aware of my sugar addiction, which helps me to stay focused.

There is no benefit in beating yourself up when you ‘fail’.

Being kind starts with knowing that is it OK to make mistakes, fail a few times and then get up and continue.

It will make you unhappy, take away your self-confidence and self-esteem and in the end make your life less enjoyable and that is not sustainable.

Few people continue doing something that is not rewarding, makes them feel like a failure and they don’t even get paid or acknowledged for.

So in order to keep your motivation up – be patient and kind with yourself.

Do you need more help? – I’m working on a more thorough guide on how to sucessfully implement healthier habits. Sign up for my newsletter below and will let you know when it gets published on my blog!

Be kind to others

Regardless on how you sucessful you are on your journey to becoming an awesome person, you will often be surrounded by people who don’t understand why you would go through all this “trouble”.

Having no or little support from your family, friends or colleagues can make life tough.

Stick with it anyways. Don’t let them pull you back into old habits.

Don’t even waste your time, energy or motivation in trying to convince them that you are doing the right thing.

Yes, you heard me right. I said ‘don’t bother’.

If they are nay-sayers, they will only pull you down.

Should they be seriously interested in your well-being, than they will at least hear you out. And hopefully, they will let you do your thing without much negative feedback.

Should they support you or even join you, you can congratulate yourself. But don’t count on that.

This might mean, that you will need a lot of patience to stay kind. But the truth is:

“Change must come from within to be sustainable.”

Believe me, I’ve tried to actively influence the people in my life. But the outcome usally was very unsatisfactory.

You simply can’t force it and expect a long-lasting outcome.

Unless you can motivate them to want to change by connecting ‘living a sustainable lifestyle’ with something they care for.

Whever there is a human being there is an opportunty for kindness.
Copyright: Feed my starving children/ Flickr

Examples of what you can do:
  • Take the time you need to reconnect with nature and recharge your own batteries first so that you can be a good, patient and kind role model and wll make them want to follow your footsteps
  • Take them out into nature, faciltate the opportunity to reconnect, recharge and learn to love and care for nature
  • Watch edcational shows and docmentaries about climate change, and other pressing topics together
  • Ask them if they would like to join you to a presentaton/discusson about important topics
  • Remain positive and be kind.
  • If you can't do that avoid them for a while. That might sound harsh, but it has saved a few of my relationships as I was getting really tired of being made fun off.

 

10. Good things come a long way around: Support good causes – volunteer, donate, be politically active

The title pretty much says it all. From my experience people either have time, but no money or the other way around.

If you have time you could help by volunteering, meaning investing your time and energy, or donate if you have no time, but money. Ideally on a regular basis, as this helps non-profits plan their budget and make more concrete action plans.

How to choose? I would say choose an organization that will benefit your local community or go with something you really care for. Ideally, they also care for creating a sustainable community, business and sustainable development.

Start with supporting only one good cause, as it is better to invest more in one cause than being spread out too thinly and having less impact.

“Doing good to others is not a duty. It is a Joy, for it increases your own health and happiness.” – Buddha

Examples of how you can do good:
  • Volunteer your time
  • Donate money regularily & in emergencies
  • Share your expertise/knowledge
  • Plant trees - yourself or support non-profits who plant trees in a sustainable way
  • Political Enagement:
    • Make a pledge for a good cause
    • Be informed and politically active to support the parties that care about the environment
    • Use your vote
    • Protest for the environment, social injustice and other important causes

 

“The activist is not the man who says ‘The river is dirty.’ The activist is the man who cleans up the river.” – Ross Perot

11. Think win–win

Win-win in this case means a win for you, the environment and others. Combining efforts to make the outcome helpful/valuable and sustainable for everyone involved. This habit is another mindeset that can be learned.

Admittedly, it’s not always easy to create such situations, and the more people/money are/is  involved the more challenging it can become. But finding a way that brings the most value to all sides is a very rewarding thing in itself and worth aiming for!

Scrabble letters saying 'Win'.
Create sustainable win-win solutions that benefit everyone involved. Copyright: inspirexpressmiami/ Pixabay

Here are some starters for or everyday life:
  • Make it a habit to ask: What is the most sustainable choice I can afford to make? (For example: Buy organic stuff in plastic, or plastic free but not organic?
  • Buy and support fairtrade products -> Especially those that also invest money into the local commnty and help build up their economy, thus creating better living standards for locals
  • Borrow or rent instead of buying/owning things you rarely need
  • Start lending/renting out things that you need/already have, but people in general only need occationally
  • Start car-pooling or sharing
  • Consider using rentable transportation (bicycles, scooters, etc) rather than bringing your own car while travelling
  • When donating, look for non-profits that employ locals, help raise awareness about pressing issues and build up the economy, etc.
  • ...

 

12. Get creative – Learn to fix and repurpose stuff

Whether you consider yourself creative or not, it is my believe that every person naturally has some practical skills. They could be artistic skills, building skills, gardening skills, organisational or simply fixing skills.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we should use them to fix things that are slightly broken and could be repaired. Or to reprpose stuff that might still be useful.

Throwing away such things is simply a waste.

If they are too broken, or simply leftovers of something – try to think how you cold repurpose/reuse them.

Some ideas on how to repurpose stuff:
  • Clothing
    • Use old stuff on hikes / in garden where it can get dirty
    • Resize too big clothing into smaller pieces (for example for kids)
    • Make shorts out of ripped Jeans (or a skirt if yo are good)
    • Sow a shopping bag out of an old T-shirt
    • Make bees wax wraps out of cut old clothing
    • Cut really bad stuff into pieces and use as cleaning rags (works also wonderfully for old linen and towels)
    • When the rags get really bad: Use as bicycle /car cleaning rags
  • Old toothbrushes are great for cleaning tight spots in the kitchen / bathroom or bicycle chains
  • Garden:
    • Use old tires as flower pots
    • Old bicycles can be used for advertising or as shop signs
    • Hang old CD's into fruit trees to keep birds away
    • Reuse egg boxes as seedling starters
  • There really are a million ways to repurpose stuff and save money while you are at it 🙂
  • ...

 

13. Sustainable Travel

The travel sector also has a huge impact on our planet. The CO2 emmissions of short & long distance flights, easily come to mind.

Add to that the much smaller emissions from washing towels and linen, cleaning rooms after each stay.

Or (again) the huge amount of waste from food leftovers and single-use items in hotels, it quckly adds up.

This is a huge topic and I will go a bit more in-depth into it later on.

Woman walking throuh grasslands. Quote about the connectedness of nature.
Every thing we do matters, because the world is so interconnected. By choosing responsible and sustainable ways to travel you can reduce your negative impact. Copyright: Kristin Noack Photography

Here are some habits that will help to reduce your impact:
  • Go local and explore what your country or neighboring countries have to offer. Avoiding long-distance travel is a good start.
  • Stay longer -
    • Instead of breezing from place to place, try to stay a bit longer in one place and actually get to know it more intimately.
    • Stay for two or more nights. This means less linen and towels to wash, equalling less water pollution and a reduced energy consumption.
    • If you really must go a long distance - try to stay as long as possible, to make it more worthwhile.
  • Behave like you would at home.
    • Just because someone else pays the bills does not mean you should leave the tap open, take hour-long showers, leave the lights on or the TV running when you need it.
    • Keep the room orderly and don't damage furniture or spill liquids on the carpet.
  • If you can, bring your own:
    • Towel
    • Toiletries (re-fill from big bottles into reusable travel bottles)
    • Soap bar
    • Hanky, instead of using napkins
    • Cutlery (or chopsticks)
    • Refillable water bottles and/or thermo cup
    • Straw (if you really need one)
    • Bag to carry stuff
  • Skip:
    • Single use plastics
    • Free stuff that comes in plastic
    • Hotel freebies (shower gel, etc) that come in small portions (=more packaging waste)
    • Tourist-Flyers and brochures
    • Plastic cups (and other freebies that will be thrown away afterwards) on flights
    • Take-aways - Experience the place & culture by eating-in
    • Restaurants and imbisses that serve food only in single-use plates, cutlery & cups
  • Leave a positive impact and volunteer/donate/do good at your travel destination.
  • ...

 

That’s it! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this Guide on how to live more sustainably. For that alone you are a hero! And we definitely need more heroes like you who want to help the planet!

If you found this guide helpful, then please drop me a message with your feedback in the comment section below!

Please also let me know if the guide is too overwhelming. I will try to break it up a bit more.

In the mean time remember: Start with only 1-2 things first!

Once you feel comfortable with your new habits, you can are ready to add a new one, to create an even bigger impact. Good luck!

 

Did you miss the habits 1 to 8? You can find them here: 13 Habits that will help the Planet (Part 1)

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