For the past month, I took the time to review my actions and their impacts. My intention is to make a positive impact on the world. Meanwhile, life continues. Negative news bombarded me on all fronts while marketing and social networks demanded that one needs this or that new product. January marks the new year, and we are all confronted with new resolutions, especially diet and exercise promises. I was particularly drawn to the challenges of Veganuary, Dry January, Apartment Therapy's January Cure (a decluttering challenge), and The JUMP (a new movement out of the U.K. that is striving to make sustainable living fun.)
In due time, I hit the proverbial "marathon wall" because it felt that I could never do enough perfectly. Attempting all these challenges, especially simultaneously, made me want to run away screaming, "Too much, too much!" and collapse into a huddle in some corner. Does anyone sympathize with this? This past month of feeling overwhelmed has made me realize that the number #1 self-care tip is to take one step at a time and forgive yourself a lot.
I strive to eat vegan for both ethical and health reasons, yet I fall off the wagon every week. Beating yourself up over each misstep - whether it's drinking a bottled beverage (thus, generating waste) or eating that hamburger - does not help anyone or anything. This fact, however, gives me some comfort as I try to eat vegan solely:
“If you eat just one plant-based meal a day for a year, you’ll save almost 200,000 gallons of water (that’s 11,400 showers!) and the pollution equivalent to about 3,000 miles driven in your car (roughly LA to NYC).”
Likewise, stopping the use of plastic is a journey. Most of my plastic comes from food packaging. I am slowly decreasing my consumption of such processed food, but sadly, I will always have some plastic packaging waste since I can't easily cook, bake, or produce the food which I like to eat, such as dried fruit and chips. Then, there's the debate about how system change has a more significant impact than a personal behavior change. If we all make one change, the cumulative effort will result in a substantial difference. Another step is to vote for advocates for the environment and with your money for products that represent your environmental and social values.
So, whether you use single-use items or eat animal protein for economic or health reasons, do the best you can and strive to improve your sustainable lifestyle every day. You have to feel good to do good, which is the importance of self-care. One then can take care of others, including the environment. So during this self-care month, what one step will you take to care for yourself and then, the planet?