Is the title supposed to sound like a Mean Girls quote? Unintentionally, but it worked out pretty well.
Like I was blaming the conglomerates in this post for our plastic apocalypse, now I’m onto blaming psychology.
For as long as we’ve lived in Barbies world, aka the world of plastic (no, babe, life in plastic is not fantastic), we have been societally programmed to resent and discourage going #plasticfree out of habit. While it is much easier in rural parts of the country to choose a less convenient option (because in the country, nothing is too convenient anyway), in the big cities we’re all addicted to the cold, shiny, hard stuff because it’s just easier. Combine this with how much plastic has been engrained in our lives for centuries and you’ve got yourself a society that’s very unwilling to try and live a new way of life.
But it’s not our fault, it’s just how we think now. But we need to look at the mindset we’re finding hard to replace and address it. So here are the 8 psychological reasons why we’re not eco-friendly…
- Unwilling to accept change – you can’t change unless you want to. If you say you’re going to change, but your heart isn’t in it, then willpower will kick your hiney at the first hurdle. We’re trying to unlearn habits here. It’s a bit like trying to stop smoking. The thing you’ve known and are most comfortable with is being taken away from you, so of course, your brain is gonna get angry. To unlearn what you’ve been taught, you’re going to have to really want to.
- Ignorance – the only reason I accepted the need to change was that I had to learn about sustainability for a copywriting job. After educating myself on a bunch of sustainable brands and the reasons why they’re championing sustainability, the scaremongering facts started to hit home. I probably wouldn’t have sought this information out myself, but I’m so glad I know it now and I feel ashamed at how ignorant I was before.
- Laziness – as mentioned above, convenience plays a big part in not being eco-friendly. This is because we trust larger supermarkets, they’re closer to us, they offer deals and loyalty, and they’re covered in plastic. Why would we choose smaller independent grocers over the names we’ve known for so long?
- Feeling futile – sometimes it feels like ‘what’s the point?’. You’re only one person, how are you going to make any difference? This feeling definitely makes us stop trying (and gives us a bout of existentialism, too).
- Tiredness – you’re tired. You’re tired and bored of everyone banging on about sustainability and being planet-friendly and going plastic free. You’re so tired of hearing it that it’s become white noise and you’ve just stopped listening altogether.
- Lack of support – no one wants to stand up on that pedestal alone. And even if you do, it’s really hard to stand up there without support, trying to convince others to come up with you.
- Fear of being judged – we all know some of the things we’ve thought when someone says they’re trying to live a zero waste life. We judge the things we do not understand and because we’ve judged we know there will be others waiting to do it to us when we give being more eco-friendly a go.
- Not knowing where to start – You’ve lived this lifestyle for so long that you simply don’t know where to start to change. So you don’t.
There are actionable ways we can quell these negativities to become positive.
- Join the zero waste lifestyle Facebook group, even if you’re not vegan. It will teach you and give you a support network.
- Watch Cowspiracy. Or just any zero waste, minimal lifestyle, sustainable, save the animals documentary on Netflix. Sometimes you have to scare yourself for it to work.
- Read Elle’s A-Z of ways to be more friendly to the planet. There’s so much useful info in here.
- If you’re not sure how to recycle, read this.
- Follow some really cool brands. Who Gives A Crap. Turtle Bags. Ruby Cup. Two Thirds and We Love The Planet are just a few brands who will really inspire you to want to change and buy their products with their back stories and blogs.
- And some amazing charities like Sea Shepard, Greenpeace, Surfers Against Sewage, Friends of the Earth.
- Understand the severity of the problem and know that your individual change does make such a huge difference.