[sniplet tweetright]It’s true. We all have habits that we probably shouldn’t have, and luxuries that we probably shouldn’t enjoy. Often these guilty-pleasures produce so much waste, or are so bad for the environment, that they are hard to ignore.
But we can’t help ourselves!
We’ve gotten in the habit of it and there’s no going back — we’ll just have to live with our sinful selves, right?
Wrong. Just because we’re not ready to give up all of our favorite pleasures doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do about them. Let’s talk about what some of those guilty pleasures are first, and then we’ll talk about how to make amends.
Step One — Acceptance
Accepting the fact that you have a guilty pleasure is the first step to offsetting its negative implications. Here are some common guilty pleasures — try to honestly answer yes to those that apply (it’s okay).
You don’t recycle
Perhaps you don’t recycle at home, or you don’t recycle everything, or you don’t feel that you create enough recyclable materials to fill a recycling bin on a regular basis, so it’s too much effort to start recycling to begin with. Either way, you’re not recycling what you could be recycling. Perhaps you say that you reuse instead of recycle (which is good, but you can’t reuse everything, and eventually you’ll need to recycle what you’ve reused).
You drive excessively
You drive a couple blocks to get to your local store when you could walk, you commute to work alone when there’s public transportation easily available or a willing carpool friend who’s mentioned it to you, or you drive a car that uses way too much gas. Or perhaps you drive for fun, throwing caution to the wind and enjoying the fresh air and excitement of a fun ride.
You waste water
After a shower, your hands are like prunes — or you take a bath and then shower after the bath for good measure. You leave the water running when you’re brushing your teeth. You don’t fill up the dishwasher or washing machine before running it. You play in the sprinkler when it’s hot, and you wash your car every week in your driveway.
You use toxic cleaner, fertilizers, insecticides, etc throughout your entire home. You let soap and chemicals from washing your car drain into the local sewage grate that specifically tells you not to do so. You support an industry that you know pollutes heavily. You don’t pay extra for the renewable energies that your electric company suggests you do.
You [insert sin here]
You don’t bring your mug into the coffee shop. You forget about the leftovers you were planning on eating until they go bad and have to throw them out. You don’t buy organic or free range food (and you often eat out at places you know don’t source their foods locally). You don’t turn your computer off, and you let the vampire appliances suck the energy from your electrical sockets continuously.
Step Two — Move On
Congratulations! It’s not easy to admit the things we’re doing wrong, and yet we all do them — I’ve personally said yes to many of those guilty pleasures, and I run a green blog :-) But admitting those sins are just the first step. It’s time to make amends. If what you’re doing is so horribly wrong that you can’t continue doing it under any circumstances, then now’s the time to change. Pick one of your guilty pleasures and toss it out the window (figuratively, that is). Don’t want to get rid of your pleasure? Offset it.
Pick up a new positive habit
Can’t live without 20 min showers? Try to lower the amount of water you use elsewhere. Take your car to the car wash when it needs to get clean. Make sure the dishwasher is full when you’re using it. Or start drying your clothes on the line. You may not be able to give up your 20 min shower, but maybe there is something else you can change that will still have a positive impact. Remember, every little bit helps.
Buy carbon offset credits
You’ve reduced the waste that you can, but you still want to make good on the environment. As an American, you know you’re more energy consumptive and waste productive than those in other countries. What can you do? You can offset your carbon usage by spending some money. There are a lot of companies that allow you to calculate how much of a carbon footprint you’re creating and then purchase credits toward that to be donated to renewable energy projects and environmental sustainability efforts. Here are some companies to check out: Carbonfund.org, Carbon Footprint, Terrapass, and BeGreenNow.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
It always feels better to get things off your chest. Share your guilty pleasure, and let us know how you offset it in any other ways. See you in the comments!