Hello dear friends, it is time we had a talk. I am frustrated (maybe you are, too).
For some time, I have been seeing an increase in the amount of posts and adds trying to sell products in the name of promoting sustainability. On the surface level, that seems great. Shoes made from recycled plastic, canvas reusable shopping bags, recycled glass water bottles, solar powered water heaters, electric cars, the list goes on, and the message it sends is frustrating: Sustainability has to be bought.
The idea that sustainability needs to be bought is dangerous and far from reality. I think the idea of sustainability needing to be bought is part of what contributes to a stereotype of sustainability being expensive and inaccessible – which valid if this is what we are being told to believe. However, I think most people that strive to lead a sustainable lifestyle would tell you how much money they save, mostly from becoming a conscious consumer (check out that fancy Buyerarchy of Needs up there)!
In an ideal world, living a sustainable lifestyle would mean buying very little. However, we live in a world of convenience where buying the things we need and want is our go – to action. As a society, we are consumeristic – which is why it is interesting to think that buying more products (although they are marketed and aiming to promote sustainability) is a viable way to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. You can’t spend yourself to oblivion and expect to get out of debt, just like we cannot expect buying more will save the planet.
Only 1% of the things we buy today will still be in use in six months. 1%. That is how much of a convenience mindset we have. I find it hard to believe that mindset dissipates because the things we purchase are marketed as sustainable. To me, it is just as likely products marketed as sustainable will end up out of use or in a landfill within six months if we do not examine our consumeristic habits first.
If anything, I think by marketing something as sustainable, it encourages unnecessary purchases. I can’t tell you how many times I am talking to my friends and they say something like, “I bought these new shoes, they are made of 100% recycled plastic though, isn’t that cool?” Like the fact they are made of recycled materials justifies the purchase. There is nothing wrong with getting new shoes, but if the only reason you bought them is because they are made of recycled materials, the green washing is working (more on this in a future post).
Basically, the thing I want you to take away from this today is that sustainability does not have to be bought. In fact, the most sustainable things you have are just that – what you have. As you retire t-shirts, turn them into reusable shopping and produce bags, reuse jars and containers instead of buying plastic Tupperware, use the utensils and reusable water bottles from your kitchen – don’t feel pressured to buy glass and cork bottles and fancy reusable flatware sets because they are trendy. You probably already have the things you need to reduce waste in your life. Don’t invite things into your life unless you are sure you need them and they serve a purpose (and yes, sometimes a thing’s purpose can be because it is pretty and brings joy to your space). I am not saying don’t buy things, but maybe think critically and more consciously before you do.
Sustainability is for everyone and does not have to be bought.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
With love, love, love, ❤ Cyndel