Isn’t it amazing how much easier other people’s problems are to fix? I’d take ten people’s problems over one of my own any day. Why? Because it’s about a hundred times simpler to tell someone what they ought to do than to do something yourself. Focusing on other people gives us a little escape from our own issues. The answers to other people’s problems can just seem so much more obvious.
The lure to focus on other people rather than yourself seems to come up frequently in the world of environmentalism. Sure, there are big picture problems that need fixed. There are societal issues that greatly outweigh what we can do as individuals that we need to address as a collective unit. But, if we get carried away with focusing on other people we can miss out on opportunities to improve our own carbon footprint. So, these last few weeks, I’ve been asking myself- what’s in my blindspot? What is something that I do that isn’t eco-friendly that would be glaringly obvious from the outside?
The answer to this question will be very different depending on your lifestyle or where you are currently sitting on the spectrum of sustainable habits.
The answer to this question for me is three-fold and involves addressing single-use plastic, eco-friendly clothing, and transportation. While I don’t drink bottled water, I think that I’ve let myself off the hook a bit when it comes to other types of single use plastic at the grocery store. I’ve convinced myself that I don’t use “that much” and it’s hindered my drive to address the problem. I made it a goal at the beginning of the year to address fast-fashion, but haven’t gotten it together to deal with it yet. Once again, I’ve used the excuse that I don’t buy that many clothes anyway. I also know that I need to make a better effort to ride a bike or walk, but I have my own justifications as to why I can’t.
When other people lay out excuses, it is easy to roll your eyes or label people as lazy, but when I have excuses or justifications, they seem valid. Funny how that works.
While my job involves working to influence others towards greener living, focusing too hard on what I consider to be other people’s bad habits can distract from the ways that I can improve my own behaviors. It’s also good to attempt to approach others with a level of understanding and patience that we give our own problems. So, I’ll spend some time over the next couple of weeks addressing these blind spots and let you know what I am able to improve when I focus more energy on changing myself.