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  • Writer's pictureJessica McQuistin

Sustaina-Minis, Habits Edition: Forming Flexible Habits

The term sustainability can stand in for "environmental sustainability" and in most of my posts, that's how I'll use it. However, today I want to talk about the other "sustainability" - the ability (of a habit or practice) to be maintained.

These principles can be applied to any kind of habits from sustainability habits to healthy habits to spending habits. (Have I mentioned that I love habits?)

Gretchen Rubin believes that: "What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while." In fact, it's one of her Secrets of Adulthood.

(Want to hear one of my secrets? When I grow up I want to be Gretchen Rubin - own version of Gretchen Rubin. After all, her "First Commandment" is to "Be Gretchen" so I suppose mine should be "Be Jessica"...Anyway, hopefully, you know what I mean and don't think I'm just a crazy wannabe.)

I like to keep this concept of "what you do every day..." in mind when it comes to sustainability efforts and I think this has really saved my sanity over the past year, as we've been adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle!

For example, in a previous post, 6 Starting Points for Sustainability, I boasted about not buying peanut butter in a plastic container for about a year. A few days later, I bought peanut butter in a plastic container! *insert shocked face emoji* For a second, I thought to myself, "What a hypocrite!" Then I remembered, "What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while".

I also had a distinct reason for buying that kind of peanut butter. It was for a recipe I had never made before, for a Peanut Butter Oreo Ice Cream Cake (above) for a friend's daughter's birthday, so I didn't want to risk it.

To tie it all together, I can say:

Every day, our family eats bulk natural peanut butter AND once in a while, we might purchase regular peanut butter if there's a specific reason to do so.

That was a mouthful! (Too bad it wasn't a mouthful of peanut butter - the natural kind of course!) But I hope it illustrated the point.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Every day, I make coffee at home and once in a while, I get take-out coffee.

  • Every day, I wipe up spills with dishcloths or other washable fabrics. (Yep, every single day. Can you tell I have kids?) Once in a while, I use paper towels.

  • Every day, I eat fruits and vegetables, and once in a while, I skip 'em.

How do I decide when to break out of a habit? If I can call it a genuine exception - like getting a special take-out treat with a friend I rarely see - I'll go for it. Otherwise, I try to stick to my routine.

Some folks prefer to go all-in with their lifestyle choices but for me, leaving a bit of room for flexibility helps me stick to my goals rather than feel stifled by them. How about you? Are you #allornothing or #progressnotperfection? Share in the comments!


More from the Sustaina-Minis Series:

Sustaina-Minis, Kitchen Edition: 6 Sustainability Tips for an Eco-Friendlier Kitchen

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