So you've gone well beyond buying those squiggly energy-efficient light bulbs: you're composting, recycling, and paying a lot more attention to what you buy at the store. The weekends are full of home fix-up projects, and you've become accustomed to that glazed look from your kids or spouse when you wax poetic about the relative merits of organic versus locally grown food.

Anyone who says that it's easy being green hasn't worked at it too hard. And sometimes living a more earth-friendly lifestyle seems like just that — hard work.

Green burnout

If you're here reading, you are probably sold on greener living. There's a joy to knowing your life is moving into greater harmony with the world around you. But it's also easy to get overwhelmed.

If this has happened to you, take heart. It's a normal part of change. The good news is that once you've realized this, there are ways you can put the fun back into going green. If greening your life is starting to feel like a chore, consider some of these tactics to getting back on track.

Putting the joy back into green

1) Remember that living a more eco-friendly life is a process. It took decades to build an unhealthy consumer culture, and it's going to take time — perhaps even a couple of generations — to find our way home. Continuous, sustainable improvement of our personal habits is a big part of this. But so is collective action, such as legislation, and the development of new technologies. This won't happen overnight. Do the things you can. Once they become second nature, move on to the next thing. You don't learn to run a marathon by waking up one morning and deciding to go on a 26.2-mile jog, you do it by running a mile at a time. If you're progressive and consistent, you will eventually be able to go the distance.

2) Reward yourself. One of the nice things about reducing your personal consumption is that it usually leaves a little extra money in the bank. Have your green habits yielded savings? Maybe it's time for a splurge. It could be anything: something you want, but don't really need; a lazy afternoon at some natural spa; or a weekend getaway. There's a time and a place for small extravagances, and rewards are a powerful reminder that you're doing something right. Enjoy!

3) Do things with others. There are plenty of people out there doing the same things you are, and lots of support is available. Are you working on better nutrition for your family? Maybe you should consider joining a local CSA. Or do something as simple as getting together with a few friends to work on projects or special events. You could sponsor a home-based bookstore or help your local school set up a recycling program. Going green needn't be a lonely chore. Share the path with others.

4) Don't be afraid to make mid-course corrections. There are more green things under the sun than you could ever do in one lifetime. Find the ones that make sense for you — particularly the ones you enjoy — and spend your time on those. So it turns out you have a brown thumb, huh? Maybe you could set aside that struggling vegetable garden until next spring. Learning to move on is difficult, particularly for those of us who see the urgency of green action. Everything seems important. But putting down one thing gives you time to try another.

5) Reconnect with nature. The surest way to remind yourself why we're going to the trouble of leading a greener life is to get out into nature. It could be something as simple as a daily walk, bike ride or hike on a local trail. Nature has a lot to teach us about balance, and it's easy to ignore those lessons from the air-conditioned comfort of our homes and offices. Learn to observe; look for detail. You don't need any more equipment to experience nature than a sharp eye and an open heart. There's a joy to the passage of the seasons. If you allow nature to demonstrate this, you'll soon find the joy within.

Copyright Lighter Footstep 2009

Thumbnail photo: Gigi Scorcia/Flickr