The Confessions of an Overcommitted Environmentalist


 Sometimes life gets in the way of eco-ness

When times get tough sometimes the eco aren’t as savvy as they would like to be. This sweeping generalisation is made on the basis of my own experience and with a little backing from academic literature. Busyness and money are preventative barriers to making eco-friendly choices. This academic paper (by one of my economics lecturers) shows that we are more likely to adopt positive environmental actions when they aren’t too time or labour intensive. Unfortunately in this present time, being zero waste, ethically, or sustainability minded can so expensive and/or  time consuming that sticking to your purchasing values can be hard work. The last few weeks have been terribly busy and I have to admit that the results having been as eco as I would like them to be and I’ve just had to surrender to the realities of my situation.


Recapping on the events that lead to eco-slippage

Around a month ago Ged broke his wrist. While this is horribly annoying for him, it’s also been a financial train wreck for our household. Ged had resigned from his FIFO career due to a desire to live at home for more than a fifth of the year. His job hunting was only just starting to come into fruition as the sporting accident occurred. Fortunately an opportunity came up for me to work full time (in a rather ironic position- a waste reduction and organics advocate who is now in charge of biohazard bins and dangerous chemicals). While we have nearly covered all the bills with my earnings, it’s been tight and the food budget has taken a hit.

Normally we shop bulk packaging free and the farmers markets. It might be a bit of a generalisation but one would assume that farmers markets and packaging free bulk buying would be cheaper than supermarkets. Sadly it’s not. We have shopped the last couple of weeks at the supermarket and a fruit shop as we haven’t been able to stretch the budget far enough with our regular shopping locations. Supermarket and fruit shop shopping, even with minimal waste in mind, is more packaging and plastic intensive and it’s a hit we have had no choice but to take. I’ve even had to put out my waste bin for the first time for the year (it was mostly because there was a dog poo bag in it but it was around a quarter full).


What to do when you can’t do your best

Perfectionism is a tough gig. Mostly because there is fat chance of you managing to do things perfectly all the time. Perfectionism is not something one should aspire to. While it’s good to aim for the moon and hit the stars, aiming for the moon can be a little exhausting when it comes to being eco minded. We are so entrenched in a world of plastic wrapped mindlessness that being 100% switched on to it can be a full time job. It’s no excuse to say ‘it’s too hard’ and wrap yourself in bubble wrap (even though that would be SO MUCH FUN) but cutting yourself some slack is pretty important. Rather than being hard on yourself aim to do the best with what you have.

While Ged and I are usually pretty close to zero-waste, for the next couple of weeks we will just have to accept that we can only shop as packaging free as our budget will allow. I would like to say I could get food from my garden, but the sad fact is that my yard is mostly an overgrown jungle of weeds as I’ve been flat out at work and poor Ged can’t do much yard work with one hand and a cast he can’t get dirty. Not to mention the fact that we have had such a terrible drought which is why the farmers markets have been so expensive and had limited produce. While times are busy I will just commit to doing the best I can, even if I know that the pressures of a larger workload and tighter budget limit my capacity to be as eco-friendly as I would like to be.

Have you ever just had to accept your eco-hit and take it? Perhaps it was a straw bomb in your drink or deciding to use plastic diapers for your children despite being a strict environmentalist? Share your eco-confessions below!

Author: Katie

Katie Roberts is a self confessed 'write-a-holic' Environmental Scientist with a passion for Sustainable Fashion.

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  1. I literally just wrote a post along these lines, struggling with some personal and financial stuff, as well, and it just makes it hard to “think green.” Thanks for sharing this.

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    • Thanks for dropping by Leah. It can be really tricky to navigate the landscape of life when your head is lost in a sea of personal and financial ‘stuff’. You are not alone in this at all! We all have times where we have to make sacrifices because we have no choice but to make them. As long as your heart is in the right place you are in better eco-stead than those who have never given it a thought.

      Lots of love.



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  2. I struggle with this all the time, and I never even had the intention of going zero waste.
    For me it’s choosing organic produce on a limited budget, and few other choices.

    However I also sort of raise a brow when I see the tendency these days that the “Real” ecoconscious Way to live is to be 100% zero waste, vegan and second hand shopper. That leaves Very little space for people just wanting to find a balance.
    Sorry, that was not entirely aimed at you, I see the tendency in Denmark as well

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    • Great comment! Love this critical thought process.

      I’m definitely at camp ‘zero-waste’ because for me the idea of leaving no trace appeals. The best bit about this goal is that you can visually see the effect you are having every bin day. So I find it very rewarding personally. However, the organic thing is something that takes second-place to zero waste and it’s mostly because it’s intangible and in many cases out of my budget. I usually aim for spray free and locally grown produce because it is, in many cases (here on the sunny coast), as good as organic.

      You really have to pick your passions and go with it. I totally agree with you that there is a bit of a ‘tribe-vibe’ in eco land of what path you should take to be a ‘conscious consumer’. It does in many ways seem un attainable when you think about making all those changes at once. When you make small positive changes and find your own way it’s amazing how quickly they add up. I still can’t believe I’m wearing natural deodorant- I NEVER thought I would do that. lol.

      I love what you are all about and you are doing so much to inspire others Johane. Keep it up!

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  3. Thanks for sharing what you and your husband are going through. Your right, being perfect 100% of the time is unrealistic. I hope your situation improves.

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    • Thank you for taking time to comment Diana. It’s been a really tough couple of months but we are learning lots from it. Life would be a little boring if it were perfect all the time 😉 got to enjoy the lows as well as the highs. Hope you are having an excellent week.


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  4. Hey Katie. I do struggle with this too, but I like to keep in mind the saying “progress, not perfection”. I think it is a good one to use with kids too in regards to the things they are pursuing. It’s about reducing anxiety levels and rewarding effort. :-)

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    • Hey Tammy!

      Thanks for dropping by. What a perfect little saying. I find it so frustrating how much more expensive it is to be ‘eco’ minded in my location. Even public transport is more expensive on a day to day basis than driving (excluding the rego, insurance etc). The farmers markets have been filled with plastic wrapped goodies, which my local farmers say is the only way people will buy, and it’s always a cheaper price for the packaged stuff. The big organic store has been guilty of offering products that they sell in bulk bins at a discount pre-packed (in plastic). It’s like they are trying to financially punish those who want to do the zero waste thing. Baffling!! You think it would cost more in labour and resources to pre-pack? Oh well. We can only try our hardest.

      You are such an inspiration! Thank you for your lovely words.



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  5. Yes, I can totally relate to this! I really want to travel more with using the train but it’s so difficult living on the country side. It’s barely impossible.

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    • I grew up in the same situation as you are now in Kim! Living rural is a challenge for eco-friendly transport options. Where I was located I even had to get my parents to drive me to the train station so I could catch the train to the city (which was a several hour trip at the time). I actually really love living urban because of the accessibility of public transport and amenities by foot. I don’t know that I would personally do rural living again (but time may change this view for me).

      I hope that your country views, air, and beautiful lifestyle make it all worth while :-)

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