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It's cliché to use Kermit's line, "It's not easy being green," when talking about making eco-conscious decisions, yet it's so appropriate. Being green is a ton of work. But my work doesn't end there. It's just part of my seemingly high-maintenance, whole-living lifestyle, which also includes healthful practices and nutrition for my family, and emotional well-being.
I am constantly considering the environment when I make purchases or choices. I strive to minimize my family's exposure to chemicals and maximize their exposure to wholesome food. I'm always balancing my ideas for new things I can do with my doubts about whether I'm doing enough, and even if I'm doing the right things in the first place. Is this garbage or can I recycle it? Does this product contain petroleum? What harmful chemicals are on the tomatoes my baby is eating? Sometimes I get overwhelmed and find myself sighing and thinking, "This is all taking too much effort. Things would be so much easier if I didn't live this way."
I bet you've thought it, too. Wouldn't life be so much easier if you let yourself throw everything in the garbage, or just head to that fast food drive-thru instead of menu plan, food shop, and cook fresh food from scratch? Wouldn't it be nice to grab whatever cleansers and detergents your local store stocked-- without giving a second thought to the quality or nature of the ingredients --instead of driving the extra miles to the store that carries the eco-friendly stuff? I have friends who aren't concerned about the environment and address their familial health in lower-maintenance ways than I do, and they seem to have so much extra time on their hands. I make all of these efforts to be eco- and health-conscious to respect the environment and make my family and my lives better, but am I unnecessarily making things harder?
There are days when I want to throw up my hands and let go of all of my time-consuming, whole-living practices. I ask myself what difference they even make. I'm only one person in only one family. My mind and schedule would be unburdened if I didn't worry about saving the planet and preserving my family's health every minute of every day. And think of all the things I could do with my new-found free time!
Which begs the question, "what would I do with all that free time?" How I could better spend my time than I'm spending it now?
I can never come up with an answer to that because there is no better way. I live this way because I truly believe it is right. While yes, it would be easier sometimes to skip recycling, and it might be convenient to eat processed food and buy generic chemical cleaners, it's not me. It's not in line with my beliefs about the best way to live. My beliefs require these extra efforts that I make, and although I occasionally struggle with them, I don't want to stop making them. My emotional well-being would not improve if I abandoned my beliefs, it would suffer. Realizing this, acknowledging this, renews my motivation and reinvigorates my spirit. Yes, I am only one person in only one family, but I am teaching two children how to care for the environment and themselves. Eventually we'll be three people making these efforts. The three of us will show other people, and then there will be more people making these efforts. The combined effort makes a big impact, and I can't lose sight of that. Even when I'm down on myself about whether I'm spending my time and energy wisely.
Whole living is so much more than personal convenience. It's about short-term sacrifice for me in return for a long-term gain for my planet and family. And that is something that is absolutely worth the effort.
What's the biggest challenge of living "green" for you?