Staying Optimistic When Sustainability Seems Overwhelming

career advice sustainable living Aug 30, 2022

We’re really passionate about sustainability, and chances are if you’re reading this, you’re passionate about it too. However, being passionate only gets us part of the way there - we have to stay optimistic about the future. Staying optimistic can seem challenging as we enter an era in which sustainability and climate change teeter between progress and stagnation, and where greenwashing has become the norm if you know where to spot it. So how can we stay optimistic about sustainability? 

We have some thoughts!

Before we get into it, if you would rather watch the YouTube version of this post, follow this link; Derek recently posted a video on the topic. After you’ve watched it, be sure to leave us a comment with your thoughts or anything you’d like to add to the conversation.

Let’s say you’re reading this feeling disillusioned by sustainability initiatives or maybe you’re frustrated by a lack of action from leaders. Maybe complacency is kicking in, and you even feel like giving up on a sustainable future altogether (PS Please don’t :). We’ve all been there. There have been many points in my sustainability journey where I’ve felt downright depressed about the future of our planet and the success of the next generations. Derek’s sustainability story also had a fair share of roadblocks that would make almost anyone question the feasibility of sustainability programs. So how are we still so optimistic about sustainability? We use three key tools that keep our fire going! 

Here are three tips that can help you (and your team) stay optimistic about sustainability - let’s get into what they are and how you can implement them.

1. Make a Commitment

If you’re just getting started in the sustainability space, the first thing you need to do is make a commitment. You might have also heard us refer to this as a flashpoint moment. Normally this comes from a personal place - where it just hits you. Whether you’re committing to sustainability for your kid’s/kids’ future or because you feel like it’s your purpose, having a personal connection to the movement will help keep you anchored when the seas get rough.

Once you’ve made your commitment and you have your reasons, you get to dive in and learn about everything sustainability. If you’re a student at heart like us, you’ll never run out of material to explore. As we always say…keep learning!

You’re committed and you’ve been learning everything you possibly can about sustainability and climate change, but now what? Sometimes learning about all the different topics out there can be mind-boggling, maybe you feel like you’re just barely keeping your head above water. 

How can you still be optimistic when that happens?

2. Build a Community

Being in the sustainability space can be lonely. You’ll probably hear “no” too many times or people may list a number of reasons why sustainability initiatives can’t be achieved, but think of this as an opportunity.

You get to strike out and find like-minded people who will support you in your mission. These people may already work with you at your brand or they could be people who work at a competitor. Either way, reach out and connect with them! In our experience, most people who are passionate about sustainability are excited to talk about it and make new connections. That’s part of the reason why we created our LinkedIn Group!

After finding your people, you can bounce ideas off of them, lean on them for support, or ask them for advice. The sustainability space can be overwhelming, but having a good group of people around you will make the hard times a little easier. Not to mention, you can commiserate together when it’s time to commiserate :)

You’ve got the commitment and now you have your circle of support, but how will this help make a difference? It’s time to take action!

3. Take Action

When you feel like you’ve collected a good amount of knowledge and you’ve talked to people in the sustainability community, you’ll start to feel more comfortable with taking action. It’s okay to start small, like composting at home or riding a bike to work - any action is a step in the right direction. Just get started!

These small wins will help fuel your fire as you get ready to tackle the big issues. As you start to strategize your sustainability plan, you may hear “no” a lot - don’t let it deter you. Fall back on your community, ask for support, and be flexible. You and your team will experience wins and you can use that to keep fueling your fire. Once you’ve accomplished one of your goals, you guys can use that momentum to start planning for your next one. After all, who doesn’t love a good challenge?

If you’re committed to sustainability and want to get started on your educational journey, talk to us about our Academy offering. You can email us at [email protected] to get more information and get to know us a little better! 

Thanks for joining me and I’ll catch you guys on Thursday!


P.S. - Surf Expo is next week, will we see you there? 👀 Derek will be giving a Sustainability 101 Masterclass on Thursday, September 8th at 2 PM ET. Come by and ask him some questions! 

If you haven’t seen it yet, we also have a 4-part series over on Shop-eat-surf making the case for sustainability training. Chapter 1 gives a great introduction to who Derek is, why we do what we do, and how we can help you.

Top 35 Things to Know if  you're learning about Sustainability in the Apparel Industry. Have you downloaded the guide yet?

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