Honestly friends, I have felt the pressure over the past couple months to keep up with my Gentle Project. Not so much from any specific challenge, but because I have been attempting to abide by every change, and every “rule” I have made for myself since January.
With every long shower, or animal product I use, I feel a giant wave of guilt… like I’m failing my project.
I read this great quote the other day that provided me with some grace:
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” – Anne Marie Bonneau
This is a great reminder, and provides me with some perspective. I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking to try… to DO. I’m looking to do SOMETHING not necessarily EVERYTHING.
In the spirit of doing “SOMETHING,” here are some of the little things I have learned that have really stuck with me since January:
- Little changes DO make a big difference: I have noticed this particularly when it comes to my eating. My goal was to be living a fully vegan lifestyle by this time of the year. I have yet to reach that goal.
My pregnancy food aversions were/are REAL, and I got to the point that I figured eating some animal products is better than not eating anything at all. With that said, I was able to make small, consistent changes to my diet that are moving me in the right direction. Dairy has been surprisingly easy to limit (Almond milk instead of milk, Earth Balance instead of butter etc.), making an effort to find more delicious vegetarian and vegan meals, and education about Vegan-ism and it’s affect on the planet have all been great ways to implement meaningful change. I have also sought out some amazing Vancouver Vegan restaurants and food trucks. Understanding my options has really helped make me make more plant-based choices.
- Spend more, get more: As much as I love an inexpensive pair of jeans from Old Navy, or some cheap, easy basics from H&M, they inevitably fall apart quickly, and only fit well enough for me to think “Meh, good enough.” When I plan, save, and purchase more expensive, ethically made clothing items they fit better, last longer, usually end up supporting local entrepreneurs, and reducing that good ol’ global footprint. AND by buying better quality clothing, I’m not getting rid of as much clothing and, again, reducing that global footprint of mine.
- Second-Hand Wonders: I have never been a Thrift Store, second-hand shopper. In the past I’ve even had a bit of attitude about it. However, over this year I have had a change of heart and have come to really appreciate second-hand wonders. I have found some wonderful maternity clothes and lots of things for the baby’s room at stores like Value Village, and local stores like “For the Love of Thrifting,” and I am discovering the pure joy in finding a score of a deal on items that I would have spent a fortune on brand new.
- Clean Cleaning: Some of my “Gentle Project” goals have indeed fallen by the wayside (why can’t I remember my freaking reusable bags when I go grocery shopping? WHY?!), but one that has not? Making my own hand soaps and house cleaners! It has saved me SO much money and it is so easy it’s dumb! I had a moment of weakness a month ago, and used a chemically product to clean the bathroom and could literally feel my lungs burning, even hours later. Totally wasn’t worth it. I’m sticking with my natural products from now on. For my hand soap I use Dr. Bronners Soap as my base, and Young Living Essential Oils as antibacterial and for the lovely smell. For my all purpose cleaner I use Young Livings Thieves cleaner with water.
- Social Media: Social media acts as a constant reminder of the things I don’t have and “need.” I swear my Instagram account knew I was pregnant before I had a chance to tell my husband. Before I knew it I had ads for diapers, baby clothes, and must-have items to be a loving parent who truly cares about their child. To make matters worse, it’s not only the ads that pop up on social media, but also some of the people I like to follow the most. I have had to take some time to reevaluate who I follow, and how often they pop up on my feed in an effort to set up some boundaries for myself and keep myself from feeling burdened by the things I want. If every second post someone puts up is #sponsored I know I need to take a hard look on how it’s affecting me.
For the rest of the summer, I am going to be sharing a little about pregnancy, and childbirth, but I am also not setting the bar super high because, ya know, #firsttimemom. I had never imagined pregnancy or birth as something “gentle,” however I’ve really changed my outlook after learning more about Hypnobirthing, and it has really helped my anxiety and fear throughout pregnancy.
I also appreciate that the topic of pregnancy, and children can be very triggering for some. Though I will try to share our journey in the most inclusive, sensitive way possible, I understand if some need to take a step back from those posts.
I would also love to continue to hear from you: how do you try to live gently? What are some of your small, imperfect steps in living a more environmentally conscious life?