A Happy Medium for Modern Environmentalists

Finding The Sweet Spot

How do you find that “just right” place between being eco-friendly and living a meaningful life? Some sacrifices are necessary and they can be good for you, but taking it too far can be detrimental to your quality of life. Especially as a conscious consumer, at a certain point our influence can diminish.

Here’s an example we know all too well.

beer bell curve - diminishing returns of drinking beer

We’ve all experienced this. You have a few drinks and you feel great, but… you have too many and next thing you know you’re sending regrettable texts to your ex.

Reaching brewvana takes time. In my earlier days of drinking I would go right from the left of the bell curve to the right, flying by the best part. (I also thought beer was gross)

Being a conscious consumer is pretty similar. It will take time to get to… (ecovana?) and you have to overcome some growing pains, but once there you’ll be happy you did.

diminishing returns on environmental activism - conscious consumers

Too Much

Drinking too much is an easy example, but how can you be too environmentally conscious?

Let’s go back to Econ 101 and The Law of Diminishing returns. This law refers to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested – peak of the sweet spot in our chart above.

Basically, you continue investing time/money/energy into something, but at a certain point, even though you’re putting more in, you’re getting less out.

If you support environmentally conscious brands, you’re investing in a better world. You’re having a positive influence and it doesn’t take too much time or money for you to do so. Yes, you have to do your research on prospective brands and pay a bit more for the quality of their products, but it doesn’t take up all your time or break the bank.

On the other hand, if you decided to be 100% sustainable you’d have to put a lot of time and money into it. You’d probably find yourself living off the grid, growing your own food, and making your own clothes. Although your personal impact on the environment would be low – or even zero – your influence on the environmental movement wouldn’t be nearly as big as the amount of time and money you invested.

In the too much zone, you’d find yourself on the right side of our sweet spot graph; and if I had to guess I’d say it probably wouldn’t improve your quality of life.

Too Little

Not being environmentally conscious at all is bad for your health

If you have a pulse and a high school diploma you understand humans are impacting the world and we need to take action. Science has proven global warming exists and you don’t want to be the idiot blindly claiming it isn’t true because there’s still snow in Alaska.

Just as you are still accountable for laws you didn’t know exist (don’t try ordering a beer without a food entre in Utah), we are still accountable for our impact on the environment.

If you’re doing little to nothing for the environment, you’re gonna have a bad time… mmmkkk. Here’s a few things you’d be missing out on if you’re hanging in the left area of the graph.

Respect – People respect others who are educated, informed, and make a conscious effort to do what’s right.

Health – Eco-friendly products and services are innately healthier and it turns out that doing good improves your mental health too.

Company – You’ll find yourself in better company as you connect with like-minded individuals.

How To Find The Happy Medium

Do what you can today.

Chances are you won’t single handedly stop deforestation or reverse global warming. You can, however, have a considerable impact on things like the brands you support, your own community, and your personal health. Not sure where to start? Find out how to get in the game.

Make a conscious effort to learn.

Staying informed will get you to the top of the curve and keep you from sliding back down. The environmental field is changing regularly as new concerns arise and companies adjust their environmental stances. If you do it right, you should be able to get to the top of the curve and stay there with only two hours of your time a week.

Don’t think you have to fix everything.

I’m not going to stop anyone from trying to reach a zero impact lifestyle. Everyone has their own sweet spot, so more power to ya if that’s yours. For the rest of us, just pushing the meter forward is enough.

If you make conscious and somewhat informed decisions about the products you buy, you’re already ahead of at least 80% of other people and you’re contributing to a more responsible economy. Start with what you’re comfortable with and continue to learn as you go.

Remember why you do what you do.

The biggest cause of stress is when your values conflict with your actions – when what you believe on the inside contradicts what you do on the outside. If you believe businesses should be environmentally responsible and should offer fair working conditions for their employees, you should support companies that share those values. You’ll not only do good, but you will also feel good.


image credit: 1) mondaynightbrewing.com 2) prch


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  1. Nice comment – It is a tough balance, as someone who cuts the toothpaste tube open to finish and then clean for the recycle bin…. I still lament the poor choices in the packaging presented to consumers….but if I am ever to feel smug, I just look at the compost bin and am amazed at how perfect a system it is

    1. Hey that’s not a bad tip! I bet there’s still a lot of toothpaste left even after you can’t squeeze any more out. How many more brushes do you get? And are the tubes recyclable? I always assumed they weren’t

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