My Sustainability Journey: from Details to Big Impact

I started this blog 5 years ago. That’s because I then started taking steps to make my lifestyle sustainable. Over these 5 years I have learned a lot. And so, my mindset and behavior has changed. I dare to say that I am a completely different human now than when I was at age 16/17. In a good way if you ask me! At first my sustainability behavior was very random but I’ve evolved. Today I want to discuss how I’ve gone from focussing on the details to focussing the big picture.

Zero Waste

If you’ve read all the posts on my blog (this is the 400th!) then you know this whole sustainability journey started with a zero waste journey. It was the first active step I took towards sustainability. I found a zero waste blogger and figured that she was doing a good thing. I slowly changed things in my own life. I bought reusable handkerchiefs, started refusing straws and bought zero waste make-up to name a few examples. That was all very tangible and visible and so I noticed change quite easily. My waste was visibly declining and people around me really liked this lifestyle.

Hidden Impact

As I got further along the way I started reading more and more books. One book changed everything for ne, The Hidden Impact by Babette Porcelijn. The book taught me to look at a sustainable lifestyle in a holistic way. You have to look at the whole picture, not just the tangible and visible things like waste. Science showed me that the hidden impact behind most of my behavior is far more dangerous than the things I can see. At that point I learned more about what’s really important. To stop buying new stuff for example or to go vegan. Porcelijn made a top 10 list of which behavior was most damaging. Waste wasn’t even in there. It was about as I said, stuff, food and transportation.

Porcelijn also gave me the tools to measure my impact really accurately. I had to keep a list of what I bought, how much I travelled, how much energy I used, etc. For the first time I had an accurate view of how sustainable I actually lived. Turns out, my score was horrible. We needed 4 earths if everybody lived like me! And I thought I was living quite sustainable. I learned then that I was focussing on details. I lived as zero waste as I could, recycled, reduced my showering time, got a sticker to get rid of junk mail, etc. Yes, all those things are still important. But it’s not the first thing to worry about. That’s when I started shifting to seeing the big picture.

Big Picture

By measuring my impact, I now had a clear view. After that first measurement I stopped flying, went vegan and tried to buy very little new stuff. Not all at once of course, but gradually. I focussed on the big picture. And that’s what I still do today. Where I first tried to have a zero waste flight, I now go on a holiday by train or car. Or where I used to buy zero waste cheese, I now buy vegan cheese in plastic. By focussing on the big picture you change the things that actually matter.

5 Years Later

I am still not where I want to be, last time I measured my impact I was at 1.1 earths. Close though! I didn’t achieve that because I increased my effort. Not at all! I just shifted my effort from the details to the big picture. And I have to say: this gives me a lot of peace. When I get down to a score of 1 earth (and I know I will!) I have reached my goal. I think this year will be the year, I will calculate it in September. That means I then have achieved that final goal, a sustainable lifestyle.

And so this gives me more peace when the details don’t work out. You know, I don’t live 100% zero waste and I do take long showers sometimes. 5 years ago I would have bern bothered by that a lot. Right now I feel peace because I know I am already living sustainably. Don’t get me wrong here, I still care about the details too. I do still refuse junk mail and try to live as zero waste as possible. I just can’t be bothered when I’m not 100% perfect because I know the base is good.

That’s what the past 5 years and 400 blogposts have brought me! A peaceful state of mind. Knowing that what you do actually makes a huge impact, focussing on the big picture instead of the details.

Yours sincerely,

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