It’s easy to struggle to live a guilt-free life when we’re surrounded by problems involving sustainability, capitalism’s environmental impact, animal rights concerns, climate change, and more. As someone striving to live an eco-friendly life, it can feel overwhelming. What’s a girl to do?
The thing you need to remember is that you didn’t create these environmental issues. No single person is responsible for climate change. Letting yourself shoulder the blame for the world’s problems is pointless (and stressful). If you find yourself feeling guilty, anxious, or worried about how your choices are affecting the world on a global scale, take a step back.
I’m not here to tell you how bad the world’s problems are. That’s not my goal. You’re not the cause of these problems, and making you live in guilt won’t change anything.
You’re probably wondering “why start a sustainable activewear line if you’re going to tell people not to feel guilty about their choices?” Don’t get me wrong. I still think individual action and small changes are important and should be encouraged. What I’m advocating for is a change in mindset. I support choices made not out of guilt, but out of respect. I believe in respecting the Earth’s resources and doing what we can to extend the usable life of the items we make from those resources.
What does that look like in real life? It means making the best choices you can out of the options available to you.
For instance, when I’m at the store, I have the option of buying a bag of organic beans for $6 or a non-organic bag for $2. On days when my budget is tight, I grab the $2 bag and absolve myself of any guilt about that. I know when I can afford it, I’ll spring for the $6 organic option.
It’s all about being self-aware, accepting your circumstances, and letting go of unrealistic expectations. I don’t stress about that bag of organic beans when I can’t afford it, because I know I’m living up to my own standards. I’m honoring my own core values, not measuring myself according to an unreasonable standard.
And that extends to clothing choices. Buy clothes in your budget. When you can, choose items that will last the test of time. If possible, look for ethical brands that use sustainable materials. Take care of your clothes so they don’t fall apart after a few washes.
You might think that’s a selfish way to live. It might seem self-centered. But you have to remember that your values aren’t just about you. We as human beings are wired to connect with others. Your values include how you treat other people and consider others in your decisions (while keeping healthy boundaries). By honoring your values, you’re honoring others by extension. And if we all factor in the well-being of others and the environment in our choices, we’ll all spring for that $6 bag of beans, or that sustainable clothing brand, when we’re able to. And when we can’t afford it, we’ll cut each other (and ourselves) some slack.
So, buy that outfit if you really feel like it. Travel and see the world if that makes you happy. Be ethical, be respectful, and let yourself live free of guilt. And most of all, let yourself be happy in the choices you make from the options available to you.