What is Your Level of Green Guilt?

By Stephanie Bramwell

The holiday season is upon us! It can be easy to forget about the climate crisis during this busy time of the year or, conversely, to become bogged down in guilt and stress as the pressures of the holidays remind us of the challenges facing our world. Green guilt is a term coined to describe the guilt associated with knowingly participating in unsustainable behaviors. As we prepare to celebrate with family and friends or to simply enjoy a few days relaxing at home, the end of the year is an opportunity to consider our current lifestyle and how we can live sustainably. Take this quiz to consider your lifestyle’s environmental impact and lessen your green guilt during this holiday season and throughout the year!

Add your points together to calculate your green guilt score. Let’s start the quiz!

  1. How are you traveling for the holidays?
    Plane- 5
    Car- 3
    Staying home/ using public transport- 0
  2. How often do you eat meat?
    Daily- 5
    Sometimes- 3
    Never- 0
  3. What kinds of gifts will you be giving this year?
    New- 5
    Upcycled- 0
  4. What type of gift-wrap do you use?
    Single-use- 5
    Recyclable- 3
    Reusable- 0
  5. Do you recycle?
    No- 5
    Yes- 3
  6. What is your thermostat set to this winter?
    70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit- 5
    A cool 60 degrees Fahrenheit- 3
    My home uses latent heating- 0
  7. Do you turn off the lights when you leave the room and unplug your electronics when they are not charging?
    Always- 5
    I turn off the lights, but my phone/laptop is always charging- 3
    I don’t turn on the lights or charge my electronics until I absolutely have to- 0
  8. How much of your delectable holiday meals will you eat?
    A lot of the food will go in the trash- 5
    Most of it will be eaten, but some food will be thrown in the trash (or maybe composted)- 3
    All of it! I’m a proud member of the clean plate club!- 0
  9. What will you serve food on and with this holiday season?
    Disposable plates and flatware- 5
    A combination of reusable and disposable dishes and flatware- 3
    Reusable plates and flatware- 0
  10. How often do you replace your electronics?
    Every year- 5
    Every three years- 3
    Only when they break- 0
  11. How long will you keep the clothes and gifts you’ll receive this holiday season?
    Once they are no longer popular I’ll throw them away- 5
    A few years, and then I’ll give them to Goodwill- 3
    Forever- 0
  12. What kind of shopping bags do you use?
    Paper bag -5
    Plastic bag -3
    Other Reusable Bags- 0
  13. When washing dishes and brushing your teeth what do you do?
    Leave the water running- 5
    Turn the water off- 0

You shouldn’t feel any green guilt! Your lifestyle is very sustainable and you work hard to minimize your environmental impact. Maybe there are one or two New Year’s resolutions you can make to reduce your environmental impact even further, but this holiday season you should focus on spreading your sustainable cheer!

Some of your green guilt is justified, but hopefully this quiz gave you some ideas about how to reduce your environmental impact this holiday season. Upcycle your holidays through the gifts, wrappings, and decorations you use and reduce stress and heart burn by opting to travel less and reduce your meat consumption. Celebrate your new sustainability successes!

As we approach the end of 2019 and prepare to enter a new decade, take some time to reflect on how you can reduce your environmental impact. It can be a challenge, but you are up to the task! Abstain from eating meat one day a week, walk to work/ school/ the store if you are able, and look at the behavior options listed in the quiz above for more ideas about how to live a sustainable lifestyle. Take this holiday season as an opportunity to adopt new traditions that will improve your personal health and the wellbeing of future generations.

For everyone:
Even the greenest lifestyle has some unavoidable carbon emissions. If you want to achieve carbon neutrality, consider purchasing carbon credits to offset these unavoidable emissions. Carbon credits are generated from projects that aim to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals!