Nobody is (eco-)perfect

Feels half the world is watching a 16-year-old girl getting from A to B and doubts the sincerity of her intentions. A young activist has to deal with almost hostile comments in the social media because he dared to buy agave syrup, just like the blogger who bought natural cosmetics from the drugstore and didn't consider how many shares in the natural brand a company that should be boycotted has. And maybe you also had to justify yourself for the fact that the coconut oil you use was flown in from far away.

In terms of sustainability, not everything works perfectly - and it doesn't have to. The fact that this is rubbed in your face is aptly summed up by the word "eco-shaming". It manifests itself in accusations such as: "You see, you are ruining our planet after all", is intended to deliberately provoke remorse and shame in the person concerned and is simply unpleasant. There is no interest in a constructive debate behind it, and in the end it only serves to relieve the psychological strain on oneself as an eco-shamer or to satisfy oneself in some way. Often they have a favourite topic - sometimes it's flying, sometimes eating meat, but they always refrain from examining their own lifestyle in the process. Maybe because it is easier to ignore one's own conscience or to point with the index finger at others instead of thinking about oneself. (Eco-)shamers prefer to condemn.

Jenni from "More than Greenery" puts it very well and describes such people as those who "suddenly draw up mental to-be lists for the perfect feminist, minimalist, sustainable, politically correct ... contemporary and put the fitness of others through their paces. And who are not too bad to rub their noses in every little deviation, which is tantamount to the maximum failure of the world view."

It is as if others should be exposed as hypocrites in their efforts. The evidence is personal fallibility. That's why environmental activists should generally only ride bicycles, vegans should never, ever wear leather shoes and everyone should not eat avocados at all. But since the others don't get it right anyway, you can continue to raise the CO2 level yourself. Erika Güroff, graduate psychologist and behavioural therapist describes the background in a similar way: "On the one hand it is about having to be better than the other. But it's actually about my own problems that I have. I can't calmly say: 'It's a difficult topic at the moment and I'm trying to do justice to it', but with such complex topics one is always afraid of not being good enough. But it would be just as well to simply deal with your own fallibility.

Many people think: "If I can't do it right anyway, I'd rather leave it alone", which is not only a pity but also dangerous. Because this is how an "either/or" attitude is spreading in people's minds in connection with eco-shaming. Either one acts 100% environmentally friendly or one prefers to leave it alone. Would it be better if only those who lead an exemplary sustainable life were to commit themselves to the climate?

But how many are there who live completely self-sufficiently in their small hut, a few sheep on the natural property to produce wool for clothing themselves, with a vegetable patch for their own harvest and without any electronics?

If only those have the privilege of working for a better environment, not very many will come together. A small movement that might get a few signatures on recycled paper. In any case, they cannot adopt the slogan "We are many - we are loud ...". Goodbye Fridays for Future - it was nice with you!

But no, fortunately it looks completely different. What matters is that we all try to live a little bit more sustainable - without fear of having to justify ourselves or to make everything perfect. We are generally not perfect anyway. Why should we suddenly be in the field of sustainability?

If each of us did something small for the environment every day, it would make such a big difference. And actually we have the same goal in mind. We should support each other to move forward faster and not pull on each other. We're all different, so what we can do is different and in the big picture all these different advances add up to a big win.

So how do we deal with the next time we're overwhelmed by perfectionism or confronted with reproaches? Even if this is easier said than done: we will not be discouraged! We continue on our way, in small steps, questioning habits, trying to change them. Because that is what we can change - other people rather not.

And: We may be doing well! Because if you want to make an effort when you are dissatisfied with yourself, feel that you are constantly being criticised or have a guilty conscience?

The British sociologists Jayne Raisborough and Matthew Adams conducted a scientific study on the motivation for ethical consumption and found that especially people from the middle class want to consume more consciously and therefore buy organic and fair trade products. They want to take moral responsibility through targeted market decisions, want social justice and the preservation of the environment. Nevertheless, behind the motivation for sustainable consumption is first and foremost a guilty conscience about being more or less on the side of globalisation.

Let's try to reduce (eco-)perfectionism. Paradoxically, perfectionists do not perform better. On the contrary, it tends to make you make mistakes because you have set yourself too many goals. With a little laissez-faire sustainability, we achieve better results and become more satisfied.

Get rid of the fabric bags at home again? It doesn't matter, maybe you didn't drive to work by car for that.

Let's ignore the details and concentrate on the big picture. Again the colleague annoys with an unqualified comment? It doesn't matter, because you have a share in improving the environmental situation.

Let's not expect anything unrealistic from ourselves and others and stay calm. A besides there's not only black and white. The scale between "absolutely great" and "completely miserable" includes many gradations. Grey, for example. And many other colours.

>>em> It's enough if you can give yourself a good "three" in terms of sustainability. And that alone is sometimes exhausting. Erika Güroff also says: "It always saves us when we think about it: What can I really do? And to make it clear that I can enjoy the fact that I'm doing well".

Nicole alias luzia pimpinella has written a thank-you note to all imperfect ecosystems, read on: https://www.luziapimpinella.com/oeko-shaming-vs-danke-an-alle-die-nicht-100-nachhaltig-leben/. Let me caress your soul a little. You're doing great. Keep it up!

And we also have a message to all eco-shamers: Yes, we are individual, we are imperfect and we don't serve clichés. We make mistakes and still value our environment. We are what we are: in our heart an eco - in our essence a human being.