Creating positive habits is not only a cornerstone of personal development but also a crucial aspect of living sustainably. In this blog, we'll explore how to adopt habits and make them stick, especially when it comes to new sustainable habits. Let's get into it....

Understanding Habit Formation

Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly to the point where they occur subconsciously. Charles Duhigg, in his work "The Power of Habit," outlines a framework known as the "habit loop," comprising three elements: a cue (trigger), a routine (behavior itself), and a reward (benefit). Understanding this loop and how your brain works is key for crafting new habits or modifying existing ones.

My Sustainable Habits

I did not come out of the womb caring for the planet nor did the rest of us. Everyone's journey looks a little different, and that's okayyyy. I used to not think twice about purchasing bottled water, and now I have to be basically dying of thirst with zero other options to buy and drink out of a plastic bottle. Remembering to bring reusables wasn't always easy, but I've now done it enough times, it has become such an integral part of my routine. It has become a habit, and I don’t leave my house without my emotional support bottle!

There are other sustainable swaps that were a little more challenging, in that, they took some getting used to. Bamboo toothbrushes, for instance. While I've never had difficulty brushing my teeth (lol), I did have to overcome the difference in texture when switching from plastic. I have learned that you have to want to make new habits work. And once you get over the hump, there is no looking back. 

I have learned that building sustainable habits is fundamentally about the desire to make positive changes and the continuous effort to enact these changes.

Keep going.

Step-by-Step Guide to Building New Habits

reusable water bottle and mesh bag

1.Identify the Cue: The cue should trigger the desired habit. In my case, the act of preparing to leave the house was my cue. Keeping my water bottle in a visible spot (and the idea of being thirsty) helped me remember to bring it along. 

2. Define the Routine: Clearly define what the new habit entails. For example, always grabbing a reusable water bottle and a shopping bag before you go out can be your new routine.

3. Clarify the Reward: The reward needs to be motivating. For me, the reward was knowing that I was reducing my environmental impact, setting a positive example, and staying hydrated - I'm a thirsty girl, what can I say?!

4. Repeat: The more you repeat a habit, the stronger it becomes. Repetition helps solidify these new behaviors. Bring that water bottle with you again and again until it feels like second nature. Keep going.

Tips for Success

  • Visibility: Keep reusable items like your water bottle or reusable cup in places where you'll see them as you're getting ready to leave. Put reusable bags BACK in your car after you've emptied them.

  • Set Reminders: In the beginning, setting reminders on your phone or leaving sticky notes can help reinforce the new habits. I love the idea of using notes on food to use and eat first to reduce food waste!

  • Prepare for Slip-ups: Forgetting is part of the learning process. When you forget, remind yourself of the importance of these changes and keep going.

Let's Live Sustainably

Here are a few ways you can apply your new knowledge of forming new habits to sustainable living:

1. Sustainable Eating: Start by introducing one plant-based meal a week. The cue could be a specific day of the week (like Meatless Mondays), the routine could be cooking a plant-based recipe, and the reward could be enjoying a delicious new and exciting meal, knowing you're reducing your carbon footprint and animal cruelty. 

2. Waste Reduction: Implement a system for sorting waste in your home. The cue could be finishing a meal (which usually leads to disposing of leftovers,  food scraps and other ingredients as you clean up), the routine would be sorting recyclables, compostables, and trash into separate bins, and the reward could be a cleaner living environment, having to take out the trash less, and less guilt about the waste you are creating. 

3. Energy Conservation: Make a habit of turning off lights when you leave a room. The cue is leaving the room, the routine is flipping the switch, and the reward is a lower electricity bill and a reduced environmental impact.

The journey to building sustainable habits is a continuous one that requires understanding our actions and a genuine desire to make a difference. Through my personal experience, I've realized that even small adjustments can lead to big impacts in waste reduction, spending, and overall well-being.

Let's embrace these changes together, making sustainability a fundamental part of our daily lives, one habit at a time. Start small, stay consistent, and remember that each effort contributes to a larger goal. Keep going.

Leave a comment