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 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.

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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).

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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!