When you struggle to be green

For this week’s Change the World Wednesday challenge we’ve been asked to share something we’re struggling with – a green activity which is difficult to adopt in our lives.

Right now I’m struggling on balancing my desires with what I know is right…

For several years I’ve been on a decluttering mission; it beings me a sense of inner peace to have an ordered space.

I’m not the sort of person who needs a show home, or needs it to be ‘camera ready’; our house is very much a home but as I get older I realise I’m putting less and less emphasis on ‘stuff’.

I’m no longer interested in acquiring new things, I don’t like ornaments everywhere, if I’ve got one of something that works, I don’t need another and I have no need for knick knacks.

In fact, Birthdays and Christmas are becoming rapidly difficult for me to embrace because of our cultures insistence of having ‘stuff’ at the heart of it.

What I’m seeking is more meaning in life – in the celebrations and festivals I celebrate, in everyday life and certainly in my choice to spend time meditating or being in nature rather than cleaning and tidying endless ‘stuff’!

My challenge lies in disposing of the things I no longer want that were bought years before I even knew what ‘eco friendly’ meant. Nowadays I can make good choices, but in the past? Well I have a legacy of things that are just no good anymore and they aren’t recyclable either – old unmarked plastic packaging material, broken plastic toys, materials from projects that are just not good enough to reuse, salvage or pass on to anyone else.

So my decluttering over the past few years has been a half-hearted attempt and when I’ve come across something I can’t dispose of responsibly I’ve procrastinated and put it away ‘for later’.

Well my ‘for later’ life is starting to irritate me. My workload is increasing and as it does my need for order in my home increases otherwise I tip into overwhelm.

It’s a funny thing the way the Universe works. I’ve basically been given a quieter month before work ramps up in September and in that time I’ve decided to dedicate it to getting my home in order. That includes preparations for the winter months as well as a promise to myself that I will declutter and do a deep clean, so that we have a healthier and more beautiful space to live and work in.

I’ve come to the conclusion I *will* be creating landfill waste. I’ve found this a terrible burden for so long but to be honest if I don’t deal with it, someone will have to deal with it at some point; I’m only putting off the inevitable. I’ve held onto things believing that one day we will have the facilities to recycle them, but I feel like part of my life is on hold.

I’ll do the best I can, but will accept that I’ve made bad or ignorant choices in the past and that the recycling infrastructure in the UK just isn’t quite perfect yet. I have a choice: I can beat myself up about it or pat myself on the back for the great things we DO achieve as a family. And with my new promise to myself of being kind and loving towards my efforts it will be the latter…

What about you – what areas in your life do you struggle to be green?


  1. Green Steve on July 25, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Great post. I recently moved flat and, when it came to packing, I was faced with just how much ‘stuff’ I had, and just how much of it I didn’t need. It’s been a real eye opener (fortunately, much of my stuff was easy enough to get rid of in an environmentally friendly way.)

  2. Jennifer on July 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Great post! I have similar quandaries when it comes to throwing out food that is in the process of going bad. I’m not going to eat it, but I hate throwing out something that is borderline edible, so I let it sit until I really have to throw it out. I don’t compost, so it goes to the landfill and makes me feel terrible about the wasted resources. I haven’t found a good way to minimize my food waste, either. First world problem, but some days I just don’t feel like eating what I have!

  3. chris levey on July 28, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Being green is not always easy. We do not have enough insulation in our loft, easy you say put some more in but the 2 identical houses next door did just this and the condensation was so bad one of them had to have some roof trusses replaced, so at the moment this comes under “ too difficult to deal with” heading. Next comes under the law of “good intentions”. We moved into this house new in 1976, we had a modern Sungold bathroom. This was now dated, the toilet needs 2 or 3 flushes to clear, and now my hubby is not good on his feet so we need a shower. So we have just had a new bathroom fitted. We have a low flush toilet and a non-power shower, all this should save water. The entire bathroom was bought from a shop locally and was mad in Europe [made in the UK was not possible]. It is the unexpected amount of waste, the building rubble went in a skip and was to become the base layer of the local sea wall, the radiator and any metal went to the scrap man, all paper and card went to the curb side recycling [poor dustman] and the larger bits of polythene have been saved to use in the green house. But this still leaves me with 2 large wheelie bins full of waste to go to landfill. Has anyone a use for dust.

  4. Fiona on July 29, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    This really struck a cord with me – I’ve definitely suffered from that ‘putting your life on hold’ feeling and feel ungrateful for getting stressed when people gift us more stuff! I’m often making do with things that aren’t really fit for purpose or going without because I don’t want to buy more stuff. In an attempt to make life with two small children work in a modest urban flat we’re having some pretty significant rennovations which are tinged with a bit of guilt. To salve my conscience I have been finding new homes for lots of things on Freecycle – including so far a whole fitted kitchen, lots of hoarded stationery, external doors, duplicate kitchen stuff and more. It’s great to connect you up with people who have different needs to yours. I’m going to be ruthless from now on in getting rid stuff we genuinely don’t need whilst it is still in good enough condition to be useful for someone else. I’m also not ‘making do’ by buying second hand – great for kids stuff, a lot of which you can sell on again once finished. Good luck with your decluttering!

  5. Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking on July 31, 2012 at 1:14 am

    Oh what a great and honest post!! You are one of the ” greenest ” people I know and I think you do an awesome job!

  6. Small Footprints on August 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Sometimes the past has more baggage than we care to admit … and landfill trash is part of that. But I think the real important part is that from this point forward, we are making better choices … not continuing to acquire stuff with no reusable life. I always offer things on Freecycle and ask around to see if there’s anyone who could use an item. Sometimes the things which I think aren’t in any shape to be reused are “gems” to another. But sometimes I have to accept that I’m going to add to the landfill and forgive myself for it … there just isn’t any other option. But think of this … if every single person on earth made that kind of commitment and only tossed out what absolutely couldn’t be reused in any other manner … well … we’d basically have no landfill problems.

    BTW … I’m so sorry that I missed this post … I visit often so I don’t know how I missed it … but I did. I’ll include it in next week’s CTWW wrap-up. 🙂

  7. Jen @ Lita's World on August 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Great post…wow, it truly is a dilemma a lot of us face. I constantly try to give away and recycle things I don’t need anymore, but there’s always that “stuff” that I want to get rid of, but can’t think of where it will go other than a landfill and that just breaks my heart!!!! ugh…good luck and please share any tips!!

  8. Jane on September 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing your dilemas with us so honestly. Your post certainly strikes some chords with me. I feel despair sometimes at the amount of rubbish we put in our landfill bin (even though it is only a tiny fraction of what we used to produce). I also feel inadequate and guilty that I do not do more to be green. The key areas where I struggle are on finding the time and energy to do things after a full day’s work. Also, in these difficult times, finances are increasingly tight, which rules out doing certain things that we might do if money was no object. Your post has reminded me that instead of feeling despair or guilt at things that it is not practical for us to do at present, we should remember the things we have already achieved.