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Article: Living sustainably – 3 steps for newbies

Kleinkind läuft durch ein Beet in einem Garten mit einem Korb in der Hand

Living sustainably – 3 steps for newbies

Some people believe that brushing their teeth every morning with a bamboo toothbrush is the first step towards sustainability. Or buy tons of books on the subject. Or from now on you can only shop in unpackaged stores. Or equipping your home with all kinds of houseplants - because all of that makes you more environmentally friendly, right?

Don't get me wrong, the examples mentioned are great - but they don't necessarily have to be the things you deal with first. If you are convinced that you should concern yourself more with a new topic - in this case the sustainability of your own way of life - you are often full of energy and would like to change everything immediately. But what can also happen is that you feel overwhelmed and exhausted shortly afterwards. It's worth taking the whole thing slowly and first getting an idea of ​​the current situation.

Hopefully the three steps I want to share with you today will help you dive into the world of sustainable living.

1. Make sure you are okay

You probably know the safety instructions when flying: “Pull the oxygen mask towards you and press the opening firmly over your mouth and nose. Afterwards, help the children traveling with you.” This principle applies not only to airplanes, but also to everything else we want to tackle. If you can't secure your own basic needs , you don't have to deal with sustainability in detail. Unfortunately, it still happens too often that convinced environmentalists blame and blame other people for not doing anything or not enough for the environment. A person who is already barely making ends meet or does not have access to sustainable alternatives should not (have to) feel bad if they do not act in such a sustainable manner. Of course, we're doing pretty well by international standards, but that doesn't mean that none of us have financial difficulties or other fundamental concerns.

I also know this from myself when I first started thinking about sustainability: I preferred not to drink water at public events or on vacation rather than drinking water from plastic bottles. Of course, this is by no means healthy and ultimately doesn't help anyone.

So the first priority is always to take care of yourself. If you are not feeling well emotionally, psychologically or physically, then it is much more important that you take care of yourself first before you deal with issues such as environmental protection, sustainability or the zero-waste lifestyle. And without a guilty conscience. :)

2. Think about where you are right now

Taking a small inventory of your current habits and lifestyle will help you see where you can start and what you might be able to improve. For example, you can spend a week observing how and what you buy, which plastic products you use, what your food supplies look like, whether you drive distances that you don't have to, what and how much you throw away, etc.

It's best to make a quick note as soon as you notice something so that you don't immediately forget it. At the end of the week, you can then turn your notes into a list of suggestions and ideas for improvement.

Not to mention, we tend to compare our “Day 1” to other people’s “Day 100” or even “Day 1000” . A basketball player who has been playing basketball professionally for a decade is of course on a completely different level than someone who shot at a basket for the first time yesterday. And that doesn't just apply to sports, but to almost all activities.

It's great to get inspiration from people we admire or who are further ahead than us. We just have to be careful not to compare ourselves too much or belittle ourselves and put ourselves down.

If you know where you currently stand and what your current everyday life looks like, then you can build on that and start right there. And remember: everyone goes their own individual path at their own pace, and that's a good thing!

Woman stands next to a spiral staircase and organizes her apartment Photo by Monika Kozub on Unsplash

3. Find your motivation

There is a motivation behind everything we do . More often than we would like, this motivation is externally controlled or serves to guarantee safety and comfort. When we have a “why” that is based on deep conviction and that is intrinsically motivated (i.e. from within ourselves), it is easier for us to tackle and implement things. For example, wanting to lose weight because a certain body image prevails in society is a motivation that comes from outside and will make it difficult for us to really lose weight. A more advantageous motive could be, for example, that you want to lose weight in order to do good for your body and be healthy.

When it comes to sustainability, it is also important to have a strong “why” behind your actions. This can be anything from “ I want to help save the world ” to “ I want to give my grandchildren the best possible life ” to “ I want to create a simpler home that I don’t have to clean as often ”. Regardless of whether your “why” is “big” (in the sense of “important”) or “small” (in the sense of “unimportant”) from a social perspective, what matters is that the motivation comes from you and has meaning for you .

The road to a sustainable, environmentally friendly life is long and cannot be achieved overnight. There will definitely be times when you are not satisfied with your own progress, when life throws obstacles in your way, or when other people make life difficult for you. For example, there may be people around us who don't understand why we do certain things or have different beliefs. Who feel threatened or triggered by our actions. In moments like this you quickly start to doubt yourself or think “It would be easier if I just stopped doing this…”.

But if you have defined a powerful “why” that you can remember during these times, it will be easier to move on and not be “distracted” too much by external influences. When the “why” becomes a deep conviction , it is much easier to stay true to yourself and your decisions and to stick with something.

If you would like to find out more about the topics of sustainability, mindfulness or healthy eating, take a look here .

Sustainable living for beginners: organized mason jars on a kitchen shelf Photo by heather mckean on Unsplash

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