Small Wins: Tiptoeing into Sustainable Living

I have been listening to The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg on OverDrive whenever I am in the car. It’s fascinating on several levels, but the thought that keeps jumping out at me is this – sustainable, green living is all about habits, small things we do every day without even noticing. Or, at least I’m at the point where I don’t notice most of the sustainable things I do. They are just part of my life. And I want you to get there too!

Currently, I am listening to the chapter on “small wins” – seemingly insignificant successful habits that add up to larger, more substantial change. For example, switching from plastic water bottles to a metal one. It’s not a big change in your life, but it gives you a small jolt of “yes, I am doing this green living thing!” every time you pick up your new water bottle. That little success primes you for wanting more successes. Maybe next time you go out, you grab an apple along with your water bottle so you don’t stop at the gas station for a packaged snack. Or maybe you start taking a coffee mug with you so you can refill that too, instead of getting the toss-away cup.

Small wins can add up to big change in your life. Studies have shown that changing one habit (called “Keystone habits”) can have a landslide effect in your life, helping you to recreate your life in a positive way. What green small wins can you manage in your life? It can be as easy as switching one product for another – say a bamboo toothbrush for your plastic one. Now each time you brush your teeth, you’re thinking, “damn, what an eco-friendly kind of person I am using this bamboo toothbrush” and hopefully that attitude will flow over into your day.

Read Eco-Laundry 101 for more small wins.

Here are a list of small wins to try:

  • Bottle Swap: “Look at how eco I am carrying this metal water bottle instead of trashy plastic ones!”
  • Toothbrush Swap: “I use this cool-looking bamboo toothbrush because I’m not the kind of person who likes to make trash”
  • Transport Swap: “I walk to the library now because I am an awesome, healthy, eco-friendly kinda person”
  • Bag Swap: “Wow, I am so amazing! Look, I bring my cloth bags to all the stores! No plastic bags for me.”
  • Heating/Cooling Swap: “I keep my thermostat down and my AC off because I’m a tough person who cares more about future generations than about being perfectly comfortable.”
  • Meat Swap: “I go meat free before dinner (or Monday through Friday…) because I care about our planet!”
  • Paper Swap: “I skip the paper products aisle in the grocery store because I don’t need any of that shit!”

Want to explore more options? Here are some easy swaps to make in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and closet. Check out our Green Living section for even more ideas.

I hope this inspires you to think of some small wins to put you on a path toward your sustainable goals. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself when you win!

– Hannah

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