I’d set my self the challenge of Project 333 and I failed. After only two of the three months complete, last night, after what was quite honestly a shit of a day with a “terrible” two year old, I threw in the towel on Project 333 and allowed the vast majority of my wardrobe back into my life. I was feeling sorry for myself (blaming said two year old), I had run out of jumpers – now winter is here it takes four days for anything to dry (yes, there are cons of not wanting to use a dryer) and I was feeling GUILTY.
I felt guilty because, although I try to make the best environmental decisions at the given time, I am often ill-informed, or the problem that presents is a wicked one.
A good chunk of my selected wardrobe is made of clothing containing 50 – 100% polyester fibres. Now, as I learned back when I started Project 333, polyester clothing is polluting our waterways and oceans. Microfibers are shed from our clothing during the wash and make their way into the ocean. Subsequently they end up on our beaches and being ingested by marine life.
Armed with this information, I still chose to wear my polyester clothing – I was no longer ill-informed, I was now just turning a blind eye to the issue – yes, I could dump all my clothing in landfill (not really a solution), or I could donate them, but they will be worn by someone else and we will still have the same problem. Because I had no better answer, made easier by the fact I couldn’t physically see the problem, I just ignored it. Apparently there is a word for this – Ecoguilt:
Ecoguilt:The feeling you get when you could have done something for the environment, but consciously made the decision not to.
Over the last two months, my feelings of guilt increased and it got me thinking about this reaction with regard to environmental issues. More than a few of you have mentioned how my actions, although applauded, make you feel guilty about what you are or rather are not doing to better the environment.
That was never my intention. To be frank, you probably have a lot more you could be doing to better the world around you (not just environmental issues) – as do I. The purpose of anyone (me) trying to better the world they live in is not to point out the flaws in others, rather, highlight the good than can be achieved – mostly with small and relatively easy actions.
There are so many times I feel like a hypocrite; I still use disposable nappies at times, sometimes I take a really long shower, I drive to the shops – they’re less than a kilometer away!, I eat meat, I guzzle milk rich coffee like it’s going out of fashion and I wear polyester clothing – to name a few.
So what do you – and I, do when we’re feeling guilty about not doing enough? Jennifer Grayson, who writes for the Huffington Post suggests we flip those feelings and use them to empower us;
Pat yourself on the back. Remember that perfect is unachievable, so instead focus on the positive choices that you are capable of making.
Lead by example. When you’re feeling frustrated, remember that “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world,” as Gandhi said. Focusing on our own shortcomings will do nothing to inspire others.
Work to make a difference on a larger scale. You’ll feel more empowered if you work to enact political change, say, to require testing for toxic chemicals in cosmetics rather than harassing your husband to give up his favorite deodorant.
My mission is to do what I can to physically, not just philosophically – be the change I want to see in the world.
Understand that, all you can do is your best – for me right now, there are days I can barely muster the energy to cook a meal for the family, let alone cook a separate vegan/vegetarian meal for myself and a meat meal for the other members of our house who still want to eat meat. So instead, I just eat the meat – knowing that it significantly increases my personal greenhouse gas emissions, and try to make changes in other areas that I can muster the energy for.
Each journey is different and any conscience change you make to better yourself and the world around you, deserves a pat on the back.
Solution: Anything in my wardrobe that has less than 65% natural fibres I have put away for now (I chose 65 because it seemed they were mostly 50/50 cotton/polyester or 95/5 cotton/polyester bar one that was 65/45 cotton/polyester so that was my cut off), untill I get my hands on either a Guppyfriend – a washing bag that catches microfibers or a Cora Ball – a microfiber catching laundry ball so I can continue to wear my polyester clothes.
*Photo credit: Plastic Soup Foundation