A Guide to Going Green: Tips to Get Past Your Guilt

It’s the Tao of Kermit: It isn’t easy being green. Maybe you see the signs—“eco-friendly,” “organic” and “all-natural” and get overwhelmed by the choices. Or maybe you already do a lot to go green but feel like it’s never enough.

Get over yourself already.

“I like to think of ‘green’ on a continuum,” says Cecelia Ungari, education and outreach director at Healthy Green Goods (702 Main St., Evanston, 847-864-9098). “Instead of thinking of ‘green’ as a fixed objective, approach it on a step-by-step basis. There’s always going to be something greener to do.”

So, what can you do to shake what Ungari calls “green paralysis?”

First, take stock of what you already do that is environmentally friendly.

For example, maybe you don’t drive a hybrid. That SUV sends shudders down your spine when you think of miles per gallon. Still, if you carpool, that’s two or three other cars NOT on the road- so give yourself a pat on the back! Or, maybe you don’t do a bang-up job recycling every single piece of paper that comes into your house. But you’re paying bills online! You’re saving paper, so relax a little.

“People should celebrate the fact they’re being very green,” Ungari says.

Start with the things you like to do.

If you love to garden, perhaps you can learn more about organic gardening. If you love to cook, explore ways to make your food more environmentally friendly. If you’re a clothes hound, consider throwing a clothing swap party. (Don’t forget the organic wine and locally produced cheeses!)

Remember that “going green” is, well, ongoing.

“A common mistake is trying to do everything all at once,” says Ungari. “Small steps, purposefully taken, can lead us further along the sustainable continuum.”

Don’t give up.

It’s easy to slide back into old habits- such as driving to the store a block away because it’s drizzling, or buying herbs rather than picking them from your garden because it’s easier than watering. The occasional backslide doesn’t mean you’re bad.

Need some ideas? Try incorporating one of these each week:

* Commit to switching at least one of your cleaning products to a homemade or all-natural version every week until you’re a completely “green” cleaner. Healthy Green Goods (702 Main St., Evanston, 847-864-9098) is a great place to start.

* Make one meal a week from locally sourced food.

* Dine at a restaurant that uses locally-grown produce.

* Choose a green gift—such as scarves or T-shirts made from organic materials.

* Cut your shower time in half a few days a week.

* Skip the drive to the gym and use LogYourRun.com to trace a route in your neighborhood.

* Spend the extra $5 for a few reusable grocery bags—every store has them—and store them in the trunk of your car so you have them for grocery runs.

* Change up the Girls’ Night Out with a clothing swap!