Whether you’ve signed up to participate in our Eco Challenge or gone off on your own to try developing more eco-friendly habits in your everyday life, chances are you know how tricky it can be to maintain those habits over the long run. This is especially true when life gets in the way, when time is of the essence, and when sticking to a budget is super important.

Making eco-friendly choices for a day or two is a cinch. Making them stick over the course of your lifetime, however, is much harder.

Despite the difficulty, just think of how much of a personal difference you could make with a lifetime of eco-friendly habits. With this in mind, you can use the following tips to help integrate newer, greener habits into your lifestyle for years and years to come.

1. Start by Committing to One Change

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to make too many eco-friendly changes all at once. While you may be enthusiastic to simultaneously start eating more local/organic foods, turning off all your electronics, commuting less often by car, plus a hundred other new and exciting things, you’re far more likely to throw in the towel too soon once you realize how difficult it is to maintain so many changes all at once. Pick one (or two at most) and focus on that.

2. Keep It Small and Simple

For the one eco-friendly change you’ve decided to make, you’re going to want to make it so ridiculously simple and easy to do that you just can’t not do it. For example, rather than aiming to turn off every single light fixture, appliance, and electronic after you’re finished using it, start with aiming to just power down your laptop every night. It’s crazy simple, and that’s why it’s far more likely to stick.

3. Get Clear About Why

It doesn’t matter if you think a particular eco-friendly habit is something you should do — it has to be personal and it has to be linked to your core values. Dig deep to determine exactly why making a particular eco-friendly change is important to you not just because you think you have to do it, but because you want to do it.

4. Set Up a Trigger

You can use a visual queue to trigger your new eco-friendly habit. For example, if you’re trying to cut down on energy consumption and the small habit you’ve decided to start with is powering down your laptop every night, you could use the action of closing of all your browser tabs, the last email you hit send on, the desktop wallpaper, the specific time that appears on the clock, or anything else as your visual queue to trigger you to power down.

5. Repeat the Above With Another

Once you’ve spent a few weeks consistently following through with your first eco-friendly change (or long enough so that it becomes an automatic habit ingrained into your lifestyle), feel free to repeat the above with another one. The real key to making it stick is keeping it simple, remaining aware of why it’s important to you, and relying on a trigger rather than memory.

As you build your long-term eco-friendly habits, remember to connect with nature often. Whether it’s by taking an entire day to do an outdoor activity you love, or by simply stepping outside for a quick minute to breathe in the fresh air, connecting with nature as often as possible will serve as the natural reminder you need to maintain your eco-friendly habits hopefully for the rest of your life.