Common mistakes people make when adopting eco-friendly lifestyles

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I know many people who took ambitious steps to adopt eco-friendly but reverted back to their old lifestyles within short periods of time. The moral of their experience is that it is either too expensive, too difficult, or impractical to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. Yet increasing number of people who succeeded in reducing their environmental footprint and are living healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives. They dismiss the arguments of too expensive, too difficult, and impractical.

Let's look at a few examples of people (with fake names as I don't want to put a spotlight on my friends) who reverted to their old lifestyles:

Alice made many changes including switching to organic detergents. A few weeks later, she was facing a painful skin allergy.

Bob borrowed money for a solar power installation. Unfortunately, he doesn't get enough sunshine, the panels are not positioned optimally, he only took the cost of panels into consideration, and the installers were not very professional. Overall, he ends up losing more money in interest and damages than he could recover in 25 years.

Cathy switched to locally grown organic food without consulting her husband. This immediately caused tension between them as her husband could not give up Pakistani mangoes, Mexican avocados, basalmic vinegar from Italy, and a whole variety of international food he was so fond of. Eventually she reverted but both describe those few weeks as a very stressful period in their otherwise harmonious marriage.

The common mistakes people make when adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle are:

1. Making radical changes to lifestyle overnight

Let's face it. Most of us live unhealthy, financially irresponsible, and environmentally unsustainable lives. The obvious solution is to change our lifestyles. However, this is easier said than done. Even minor amendments to our lifestyles require effort and discipline. Adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle is an enormous change and commitment. Most of us cannot persevere through such a radical change and if even if we do it would be a significant financial, social, and emotional cost. So changes to lifestyle should be gradual allowing yourself, your friends and family, and your pocket book time to adjust to the changes and its consequences.

2. Spending too much

Adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle does not mean buying a hybrid vehicle or buying solar panels. You can easily help the environment and your pocket book by other initiatives such as better insulating your home, switching to CFL light bulbs, taking the mass transit or car pooling.

3. Not taking your friends and family into consideration

Humans are social beings. Our actions impact others. Talk to your family and friends about your changes how they will impact them before making the changes. Something simple like switching to locally grown food or switching to organic detergents might not be acceptable to them. Besides their support would help you in facing the challenges of your new lifestyle.

4. Doing research and getting informed

There are many different organic detergents, solar panels, CFL bulbs, and environmental causes. Do you research before you make a change or purchase something. I was always against biofuels from food crops because I firmly believed that it would increase hunger and malnutrition in poor countries and waste in industrial countries. Many of my friends who criticized me years ago now agree with me in light of the evidence published in many journals. There are many environmental causes and many opinions. Do the research and see the numbers before you take a leap in support of a cause. Many businesses try to unduly profit from our desire to be eco-friendly. Beware of such businesses and avoid them by getting yourself informed. Many good solutions have harmful side effects. Do your research and see if you find that solution acceptable e.g. CFL reduce emissions by using less electicity generated from fossil fuels but CFLs contain Mercury which will be harmful if the bulbs are disposed improperly past their lifetime.

Lifestyle changes are just about the biggest changes you can make. The world would be a much better place if all of us adopt eco-firendly lifestyles. However, take small and informed steps to change your lifestyle and be gentle on yourself and others around you. Slow and steady improvements will reap more benefits than sudden radical changes.

Please feel free to publish this article, free of charge, as long as this resource box is visibly published. Copyright Nazim Rahman (c)

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