What it takes to live an environmentally conscious life

The pandemic was perhaps the biggest shocker of our generation. It was also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to wake up to a conscious living. 

I have been a supporter of environmental conservation. However, I wasn’t really doing much about it actively. As we came out of the pandemic, my outlook on my old life went through a reality check. Over the last two years, I have incorporated a few changes in my daily life. Slowly and gradually, I am building a life that is more attuned to the environment around me. 

So on this Earth Day, here are a few learnings from my experience about what it takes to live an environmentally conscious life.

It takes willpower

If going to the gym regularly or saying ‘No’ to that cheesecake is tough, then this is going to be ten times harder. Living a conscious life takes effort and the willpower to say ‘No’ to things that have been part of our daily life. In hindsight though, the daily habits that I held so dear turned out to be easier to change than initially perceived. 

It comes down to how committed we’re to the cause. As an example, I have a friend who hasn’t stepped on a flight for years (even pre-pandemic). 

Tip: start with something that you do only once in a while and gradually move to daily routine things.

It takes awareness

From the heating in our homes to the clothes we buy, our lives are deeply entrenched in things that are warming the climate and creating billions of tons of garbage every year. It takes awareness of our surroundings at all times to recognize how and when our daily habits are harming nature on a larger scale.

Tip: focus on developing higher self awareness and that will eventually reflect on daily actions.

It takes personal responsibility

The time to wait for someone else to take action is long gone. We need to take responsibility in our daily lives. No matter how insignificant our personal actions may seem, even one individual can influence change in their personal lives and surroundings. 

Tip: focussing on small daily actions can go a long way.

It takes patience

We’ve deteriorated our environment for over 200 years. It will definitely take more than a year to bring back the balance. I remember watching videos of people who generate only a handful of garbage in a month. It was perhaps the end result of their long-term actions. But to me who was starting out, it felt overwhelming and an impossible endeavour.

Tip: build a life-long habit and not drastic one-time changes.

On a personal level, here are a few things that I have changed over the last two years that are now a conscious part of my life.

Start small: focus on things that you do once in a while 

For me, it was my weekly trips to the grocery and cafes. I now carry a small bag that includes – an empty carry bag for that last-minute grocery shopping or impulse purchase, a reusable travel mug for that hot cup of latte and more recently a small silicone water bottle.

An item that I still need to incorporate is a reusable food container to get that leftover food back home or buy a takeout dinner.

Impulsive patterns: gradually shift away

For me, it was online and in-store shopping. I now limit my shopping to necessities and avoid splurging during the holiday or sale season.

Another habit that I am trying to cultivate is to have a limited wardrobe. If a new item comes in then an old one has to go out.

Hardcore habits: reduce usage

Still working on it. The one-time plastic bags for veggies are out. Bakery items now come in a paper bag. I am yet to find a non-plastic packaged product for those wrapped cucumbers, frozen strawberries and bathroom essentials. 

The indicator of my efforts is the frequency of my trip to empty my recycling bin. These steps are only the tip of the iceberg and there’s a long way to go. But better to start somewhere than nowhere.

My promise to self – make everyday an Earth Day.

© 2023 Sakshi Daral

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of my employer or any other organization that I am associated with.

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