I finally remembered to put reusable containers in my diaper bag when we went out to eat a few weekends ago. My kids are notorious for eating 5 bites of their meals and leaving the rest “for later,” and it doesn’t matter if we’re at home or a restaurant. At least when we’re at home, they can run around for a few minutes and then come back for a few more bites. That’s not so easy when we’re not at home. So, we always come home with at least one take out container. And every time, I smack my forehead in annoyance at my own forgetfulness.
I KNOW this is how our dinner will end. Even if the kids magically eat most or all of their meals, inevitably my husband or I will not be able to finish the oversized restaurant portions of our own dinners. And every time, I realize that I have a million perfectly-sized containers sitting at home in my cupboard, and I meant to bring one this time! Why can’t I just remember? What’s wrong with me?
I posted this picture on instagram in triumph when I FINALLY remembered:
I was so excited that I had finally remembered this small, simple step. I mean, this is my life, right? I write a whole BLOG about this stuff! I encourage people to bring their reusable bags, washable mugs and tumblers. I tell people about more eco-friendly replacements for their kitchen sponges, napkins and paper towels, and plastic baggies. How is it possible that I have NOT been able to remember these goofy containers?
And then I realized: that’s the lie. That’s the thing that tries to keep us from living a lighter life. “I am a failure. I can’t remember a simple container, so why even bother? I’ll never do enough to make a difference. I’m still killing the Earth with my bad choices every day.”
And it’s true that we can all do better. We can all take more small steps toward a sustainable, eco-friendly, Earth-valuing life. But that doesn’t mean we’re failing. It just means we have “room for improvement.”
In the same way I celebrate the first wobbly steps my son took, and didn’t expect him to be able to run a marathon that day, I can celebrate the small steps I’m taking on this journey.
And so can you.
Celebrate the wins. Encourage yourself to remember next time when you forget to make the more eco-friendly choice. Tell that nasty voice in the back of your head that you’re not a failure, and they can take a hike.
Keep going. Keep trying. Do better tomorrow. Take one more small step. And watch it add up.
You’re doing great, and I’m glad you’re here with me. Let’s do this.
Have you ever felt like you’re not doing enough? How do you convince that critical voice to hush?
What is one small step that you struggle to remember? Is there a way you can set yourself up for success? (I leave the containers in my diaper bag now. They take up space on days when we don’t really need them, but at least they’re always there.)
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below, or send me an email at email@example.com
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