There is so much information out there and so many things to change… sometimes living more sustainably feels like an impossible mission. It is big and overwhelming and as much as I want to be better – change is HARD and the BAD habits are comfortable. That said, I know I need to start somewhere. I need to do something – so where do I begin to live better, more sustainable days?
I START with these THREE things:
- Reducing my overall consumption of EVERYTHING
- Reducing single use plastic
- Purchasing with PURPOSE
#1 Reducing Overall Consumption
Reducing is such a great thing to do. You simply buy LESS! You spend LESS! Yippee! Sounds good to me. I am not a big shopper in general when it comes to clothes, cleaning products, cosmetics etc. I don’t use make up and I clean my house mostly with homemade products. Clothing is kept basic and I am pretty happy about that! But when it comes to the children… How do you people do it? How do you tell the grandparents to stop buying so many plastic toys? Birthday’s around the corner? Another pile of expensive plastic JUNK! Birthdays are still PLASTIC parties, even though we use paper cups and plates, bamboo utensils and biodegradable balloons…. There is still more than enough waste by the end of the party!
I try to be understanding, saying “I had my childhood too, so my daughter should experience hers”... but the truth is, we had very few toys when we were growing up and our birthday parties were small gatherings with friends. We played outside a lot and when inside, we made our toys using paper and glue. So, it is possible!
Wooden toys are an obvious choice… but I am sorry, I have to question the idea of environmentally friendly toy consumption as well. Yes, it is better to buy wooden toys but I would like to call the parents out there and ask PLEASE buy within reason! I see many children buried in mountains of environmentally friendly toys... these are still trees!!! Even if FSC certified! And nobody needs that much stimulation from toys. There is so much stimulation available for FREE! Sand, pebbles, water and shells at the beach… acorns, grass, flowers and sticks in the forest! All available!
I am not saying it is easy – CHANGE is HARD, and my daughter still builds Legos and enjoys playing with dolls. The REAL secret lies in purchasing less and YES – use the good old “hand-me-down” system. One man’s trash really is another man’s treasure. Let’s embrace used toys!
#2 Reducing SINGLE USE Plastic
#2 seems so obvious and, of course, easy-peasy to achieve. But it really isn’t! Yes, I can switch to a tin straw and reusable bottle and coffee cup. I don’t eat out a lot so I don’t really have take-aways. I am that girl who cooks at home, from scratch! Yes! But even then… I have a bag full of plastic waste every second day! Why?
Well, let’s start with the fact that I eat plant-based. So, I try to eat healthy and nutritious foods. I love raisins, nuts and seeds on my oatmeal and just a little bit of honey or blueberry jam over it. Sounds good? No! My oatmeal comes in a plastic bag, and so do the raisins, nuts and seeds. I could buy bulk, you say. Well, that is not always an option. I live in a small town in Spain and nobody has even heard about bulk food shops here.
In the hotter summer days, I start my mornings with fruit shakes. There is something so refreshing about it! I use some bananas and frozen berries; a tad of cinnamon and splash of apple juice and I am set. Perfect breakfast. Yes! But NO! The frozen berries always come in a plastic bag, and I use up to 3 bags a week during the summer!!! This is making me crazy - and I haven’t even reached lunch and dinner yet!
I’m just trying to be realistic while very enthusiastic about the change. My family is all the way in, that’s why they don’t mind my “enthusiasm”. My 7-year-old daughter knows very well not to use single use plastics and will always re-use whatever she can in her “art” corner. I try to tell myself that any change is better than no change. Every effort counts. But I understand that there is a long way to go. It feels so discouraging. I know you feel like that at times as well but I want to encourage you to continue to do your best. Even if it’s not PERFECT! Every bit really does count!
#3 Purchasing with PURPOSE
We know that the textile industry is a HUGE polluter, on a MASSIVE scale! Fast fashion and trend-setting has just got to GO! I want to wear what is good and comfortable for me. I don’t want to be told by a fashion magazine that my khaki dungarees are not IN anymore… because the colour of summer 2019 is yellow, turmeric and GOLD! No one can keep up with the continuous change in trends! They not only put immense pressure on the customers, who need to constantly update their wardrobe to avoid “outdated” outfits, it also puts massive pressure on the environment!
As with everything, I have found that the best way to rebel is just to purchase LESS. We have to purchase with PURPOSE.
I try to support companies that produce their items responsibly and pay fair wages to the people who make my clothes. I always look for the GOTS certification symbol, as they have very high standards for production, packaging included. I also look for Fairtrade symbol certification because I truly understand that people, everywhere, face the same struggles I face: monthly bills, frustration and health issues. We need to put faces on the price tags, so we can truly understand that real people make our clothes!
While we are on the PRICE TAG topic, lets add there the REAL price of things, including the price of environmental pollution, people’s suffering and child labour among other things. Suddenly the $5 t-shirt is not so cheap anymore!
I don’t want you to feel BAD. On the contrary, I want to encourage you to re-evaluate your current mode and see if there is anything you can do to make it better!
There is no PERFECT… but there is PROGRESS!