What Not To Do: How to feel miserable as a sustainability professional

Ten musings on what not to do in order to avoid feeling miserable in this field so near and dear to our hearts:

  1. Constantly compare your company’s progress with another’s. While important, sustainability reports can only tell a part of the story, and every company is different.
  2. Talk to your friends and family about how they should change their shopping/disposing habits and then expect them to change these habits immediately.
  3. Base the success of your career off of one initiative or strategy, or changing one person’s mindset on sustainability issues. Some will work, some won’t. Some people will be open to new solutions, others won’t want to change.
  4. Stick with what you know. New reports on what’s currently working, data, and strategies are constantly becoming available online and in reports and books.
  5. Undervalue your knowledge of sustainability strategies by thinking what you know can only be applied to one industry or area of expertise.
  6. Let money and ROI be your only indicator of progress towards improved sustainability. Remember that if you can get just one person to change a behavior to a more sustainable one, you are making a difference.
  7. Allow external pressures to push you across the line you have defined between making something better and greenwashing.
  8. Expect yourself to accomplish too much in too short a time. There’s that saying that applies here “people overestimate what they can do in a single day and underestimate what they can accomplish in their whole lives”. Avoid burnout! Pace your expectations.
  9. Attempt to scare someone into making more sustainable choices by spouting statistics about climate change and sustainability. You will turn them off and alienate yourself. Talk about benefits to the individual instead.
  10. Think you know everything about sustainability or one aspect of it. You don’t. You never will. And that is part of the beauty of this field.

Do you have any points to add? Please comment below!

Adapted from the Pinterest pin for artists, pictured below.




Published by Alex Setmajer

Sustainability professional driven to help the world continually become a more sustainable place.

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