Go freestyle, try goal setting, or follow a leader. See which strategy or combination of strategies for going green works for you!
1. Go freestyle – While holding the guiding intention that you want to go green, make small or big changes as the opportunities to do so present themselves.
One simple step leads to the next, or one giant leap leads to a bunch of little steps, but the steps aren’t all in order. This strategy may sound like approaching things all willy-nilly (and there’s some truth to that), but what keeps the progress moving in a forward direction is the overall guiding intention. My overall guiding intention is to be as sustainable as possible in every area of my life without driving myself mad. So, when I go freestyle, I still make a lot of progress, because this intention is pretty strong and at the forefront of my mind.
The important thing is to be clear about your intention and to know why you’re holding it. Maybe you’re inspired to go green with your beauty routine because you’ve learned about the health benefits for your skin. So, with the freestyle strategy, you wouldn’t necessarily have a plan laid out. You would start where you felt like it, like with trying out a natural eyeliner, and you’d go from there, continuing to learn more and make good choices whenever faced with beauty decisions.
The pro: This method can prevent overwhelm. It can be a way to ease into sustainability without feeling like you’re changing your whole life. But the longer you follow on your own winding path to going green, the more your life will indeed change, in great ways.
The con: The main problem for some people who follow this method is that motivation can fizzle out or they can forget their initial intention. The cure for this may be making the intention more specific or being reminded why going green was something to care about in the first place.
Note: The freestyle strat can also include other strategies at different times. That’s the great part about it. It’s all about being flexible and doing what you can, when you can. Sometimes I integrate a bit of goal setting (see #2) into my freestyle strategy, and sometimes I get really into a certain blogger and follow what they’re doing. Other times I just fly by the seat of my pants.
2. Try goal setting – Actually write down the steps you will need to take to achieve your green goals, and plan how to fit these steps into your life.
Pick a broad and bold goal, like going zero waste, or pick a smaller goal, like eating vegan one day a week, and write it down! What’s your first step? How are you going to stay focused? What ingredients do you need? When are you going to get them? Break it all down, so that you know exactly what to do.
You can write your goals on a scrap piece of paper and stick it to the fridge, or you can get fancy and use a template (like one of these). It doesn’t matter how you write it all out, as long as you’re mindful about what works for you. Maybe it’s important for you to just write a few steps at a time so that the tasks don’t feel a huge undertaking. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who likes to take a really wide view of things in order to really set your sights on revolutionizing your life.
The pro: This is a really helpful strategy for people who like written organization, who have trouble sticking to intentions without planning, or who need the big picture broken into pieces.
The con: If you’re someone who likes to dive right in with action or someone who procrastinates planning things, then just the idea of goal setting might prevent you from getting started going green.
3. Follow a leader – Find a blogger, an article, or a book that has green goals broken down and written out already, and follow along.
Find a blogger or a site that you find inspiring or relatable, and see if they have any detailed guides to going green. You may want to look for links that say ‘for beginners,’ ‘tips to get started,’ or ‘how to.’ Some bloggers design their entire sites as guides, some have ebooks, and some offer challenges. There are a lot of challenges that are free to sign up for or that just require you to participate in on your own. A popular one that ran recently was Zero Waste Week, from Rachelle Strauss, which included a pledge, a week full of daily emails, and a supportive online community. One of my absolute fav greenie blogs, Going Zero Waste, has a free 30 day challenge with comprehensive posts for each day.
There are also tons of green how-to books out there these days, both in print and online, on topics ranging from composting to diy natural skincare. I don’t have any to recommend at the moment, but I suggest reading reviews to see how helpful and accurate they are. If you find some good ones, let me know!
The pro: By following a leader, you know that the methods presented are researched and tested.
The con: You may find that what works for others does not work for you, or that you have difficulty sticking to your goals unless you design them on your own.
Those are the major strategies that I’ve tried. What about you? What have you tried? Really, let me know! I love hearing about your experiences.