I do a lot of the “usual” green things. I recycle. I compost. I shop second-hand. I carry reusable grocery bags and a stainless steel water bottle. I walk my daughter to kindergarten and back every day. I turn down my thermostat and put on a sweater.
But there is an obstacle to my green efforts – much of the time, I don’t want to be inconvenienced by going green. I bring my reusable grocery bags when I go grocery shopping, but if I occasionally forget, I don’t sweat it. I drink tap water, but when I forget my water bottle at home, I sometimes buy water in a plastic bottle. I don’t always remember to bring a reusable mug with me to the coffee shop, and I have been known to throw recyclables into the garbage when out and about to avoid carting them around with me.
I guess I’m not perfect, after all.
Recently, though, I’ve been re-thinking my attitude. What does it mean to live a green lifestyle only when it’s convenient for me? It doesn’t exactly say a lot for my commitment to sustainability if it can be forgotten on a mad rush out the door in the morning, along with my cell phone, that snack I packed up and my Klean Kanteen. While bringing my reusables with me most of the time is good, bringing them all of the time would be better.
It strikes me that the way to kick my green living up a notch would be to accept inconvenience in the name of the environment. So, if I forget my water bottle then I either find a drinking fountain, wait until I get home, or take the time to sit down someplace and drink from an actual cup. It’s tedious. I don’t like it. But the pain in the butt factor helps me to remember my water bottle next time. And it means that I’m living my values.
Sometimes, the inconvenience might be a temporary wash for the earth. Like, if I have to drive back home to pick up my reusable bags before I go grocery shopping. But I think that it will pay off in the long run, as I get into the habit of thinking ahead, and I stop accepting plastic bags when I’m shopping.
The reality is that if we want to change our lives, we’re going to have to accept some inconvenience. Not every shift in thinking comes easily. Sometimes we have to experience discomfort and inconvenience in order to really get the message. I don’t really enjoy it. But I’m ready to accept it, and I hope that it will help me to really live a green lifestyle.
Are you willing to accept some inconvenience as you live your green values? I’d love to hear your thoughts!