How to Make a Green Habit Stick

When you decide to start a new habit, it is common to be enthusiastic at the outset. This enthusiasm causes us to attempt to do too much, to be overly optimistic about what we can maintain. Trying for too much when starting a new green habit sets us up for failure when we cannot sustain the effort needed.

Here are some ideas about how to start a green habit and make it stick.

Start with only one thing and make it something small

Smaller changes are easier to make permanent, and permanence defines a habit. You could, for example, choose as your first green habit turning off the lights every time you leave a room or separating all your recyclable paper. Whatever you choose, it should be something fairly simple and easy to achieve.

Focus on one thing at a time

By setting goals one at a time, you make it easier to maintain your focus. Staying focused on one thing at a time increases your ability to be successful. If you decide that you want to use less water by turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth, focus on that—and only that—every day for a week or two. Write it on a post-it note and stick it to your bathroom mirror as a constant reminder. You will be amazed how quickly it becomes a habit, and then you can pick the next green habit to create.

Don’t expect perfection

You will slip up, but don’t let that discourage you. Just continue to focus on the one green habit you have selected.

Be accountable to someone and make it fun

Having a person who will remind you (without nagging or being unpleasant about it!) is a huge help. My daughter will always remind me in a joking way if she notices that I forgot to turn off the lights—and vice versa.

Want more ideas? Check out Green Living Tips on our web site.

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July 2010
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