For a while, I have struggled how much my laziness inhibits me from being the sustainable flower that I aspire to be. Now, I would not call myself a lazy person in general; I’m a second semester senior taking 20 credits with multiple jobs and clubs in my schedule as well. But I am human and, occasionally, I find it hard to go on a journey to find the recycling bin or to soak beans overnight instead of buying packaged food.
Now, I would say that generally, I am willing to do a little extra work to make the more sustainable move, but it definitely worries me that sometimes I just can’t justify it. Because you’d probably consider me –the Environmental Economics major, the Facilities Team Green writer, the former EcoRep, the weird hippie girl who wants to live in a tree– an environmentally conscious person, wouldn’t you? Well, perhaps not, but even I give myself that label sometimes, so when I fail to live up to it (probably every day), it seems so much deeper to me. If I, an educated self-described environmentalist, can’t even motivate herself to walk instead of drive that one time or remember to bring a reusable mug every time then how could I expect anyone to do anything at all?
So what can I do to inspire myself and maybe even to eventually inspire you to go the extra mile, or even just the extra step? I think it’s really important for me first to think about how much those little actions add up. Even if I only forget my reusable mug once a week, but I still decide to get Starbucks, I’m sending 52 cups a year to the landfill to take up space and make me sad. I think the fact that it does make me sad is good, because maybe enough feeling bad can help me change my behavior.
But that’s not enough. I need some sort of incentive, and you probably do too, to take the extra step. Okay, so maybe I could change my behavior by deciding that I will buy myself a fancy drink (like one of those frappuccinos) instead of just coffee once a month if I only get coffee when I have my reusable mug or drink it at home. Small rewards like that could help me, but again maybe my goals are different than yours. Maybe it should be enough of a reward that I save money with my reusable mug because of discounts that the university, and many other locations, offers for doing so.
Another option is to use technology. Apps like JouleBug can help you track your everyday habits and make them more sustainable. They also allow you to compete with your friends, which makes being sustainable more of a game and might make it easier.
Overall, I think it’s really important to realize that it’s really hard and tedious to change behaviors, but it can be really important and with a lot of effort and support, it can be done successfully. Please please please let me know if you have any good ideas for strategies I can use to motivate myself to be more sustainable all of the time.
Written by Mariah Greico, Class of 2018