Perfection Not Required

I read a good bit about sustainability; it interests me, and I think it’s important. However, I’ve noticed an unfortunate undertone among the movement that I wanted to discuss today: the pressure to be perfect.

The eco-friendly space can be somewhat judgmental. At first, I was a bit surprised by this. There is a certain “all-or-nothing” mentality that exists, a feeling like no matter how hard you try, you’re not doing enough. I read naysayers commenting that you can’t be an environmentalist if you fly on a plane, buy something new, or drink a Starbucks coffee.

You didn’t ruin all your progress because you had a takeout coffee. Do the best you can, and don’t sweat the slip-ups.

To this mindset, I say emphatically, “yes, you can be both.” You can love the environment and treat yourself once in a while. Everyone needs to have fun and blow off some steam. You aren’t contradicting yourself if you succeed in one area but “fail” in another from time to time.

I believe that depriving yourself of every comfort is setting yourself up for failure. Like a crash diet, a plan that allows for no wiggle room is destined to fail.

Long-term change happens when you make improvements that you can build upon over time. Healthy change doesn’t happen when you are caught in a web of guilt, discouragement, and perceived failure.

We are all humans with different needs and paths in life. We don’t need to hold ourselves to unattainable standards. A small slip-up is not the end of your sustainability journey: it’s an inevitable deviation from a difficult, ever-changing path.

Put simply, I think it’s time to give ourselves a break. You don’t need to be perfect to care about the environment. Simply do the best you can and lead by example. People are more likely to be inspired by happy influences, anyway!

Have you been affected by the “perfection” mentality? Let us know your story in the comments.

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