After an event I hosted earlier this month, an attendee mentioned she didn’t feel she did enough. She listed all the things her family does to eliminate waste, especially plastic. It was a very impressive list. And this lady thought she wasn’t doing enough.
This is a common feeling, actually. I’ve felt it after leaving a market watching people get their fresh farmers’ produce in plastic bags. My husband felt it after our visit with his family.
It’s not a rip on those who use plastic. We just watch what is happening to our planet, and feel there’s so much more we can do. This is an incredibly noble mentality, but it is also dangerous. Do too much, and without feeling appreciation or any sort of reward from it, and it will drain you.
Do For Yourself What Others Won’t
Unfortunately, you’re not going to receive a medal of honor for buying a glass or metal straw. Or even getting 100% of your groceries without any plastic. It’s amazing, and I salute you, but there’s no medal.
People may not even pay attention (or if they do, you may not experience them paying attention). So, how do you stay motivated? How do you keep from feeling you aren’t doing enough?
Remember a couple months ago when I talked about incorporating positive reinforcement and operant conditioning into your fitness routine? Well, it turns out positive reinforcement is really good at motivating us humans to do just about anything.
Even saving the planet.
Positive Reinforcement in a Conservation Program
Just like with animal training and with fitness, your reinforcement doesn’t necessarily have to be a gigantic gesture. Unless you want to. If you want to book a weekend getaway at a spa on August 1 to celebrate your participation in Plastic-Free July, you should totally do that. You earned it. But it doesn’t HAVE to be that.
Reinforce yourself with leisure and recreational activities which rejuvenate and soothe you. Take a bath (with plastic-free bath bombs). Go for a walk in nature. Visit the seashore. Read a book. Preferably one without environmental catastrophes or politics (these tend to rile us up rather than calm us down). Do something nice for yourself.
Recognize your own actions. As you walk out the grocery store with your canvas and T-shirt bags, smile brightly and walk tall. You are making a huge difference in the world.