"We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly." - Anne-Marie Bonneau
Our beautiful, gorgeous planet Earth! What a gift we have been given. Like all treasures in life, we must learn how to take proper care. Mother Nature has proved time and time again of its resilience and strength, yet still it is clear that our choices impact the world around us.
We care. We really do. That is why we are taking such measures to bring awareness of our impacts and also to make a difference in our lives. We want to take action, but where do we start?
Understand Your Why
Understanding why you want to make any change is fundamental, crucial to your success and continued commitment. Take a moment to reflect on why it is that you want to make sustainability a part of your life. You can journal about this, discuss this with your partner, family, or friends, or simply take some moments to yourself.
Once you understand why you personally want to make a change, it is important to define what sustainability is and is not.
What is Sustainable?
Sustainable by definition means able to be maintained. This whole post and idea really revolves around resources and availability. Therefore, a practice that is sustainable is able to replenish a resource in a timely manner.
A practice or system that would be able to be maintained would mean that anything going into the system could be cycled back to its place in the system in a matter timely enough to meet its demand.
A system in which there is minimized or 'no waste**' is a sustainable system. This means that anything that comes into the circle of consumption has a purpose and helps to fuel the continuation of the process. There are countless examples of this in nature. Think about the process of respiration, the water cycle, and even the process of living/decaying.
**I will get to the idea of waste later.
What is Unsustainable?
Arguably, the Earth is able to transform all of the materials we have made back into working parts. After all, everything that we have made is made of the earth so that shouldn't surprise us too much. The trouble is, we have created many things with such complicated processes that it takes hundreds, even thousands of years for the material to be renewed by the Earth... The fact that the Earth can still manage to decompose what we have created is phenomenal!
How Can We Make A Difference?
Bringing awareness of the impacts of our actions helps us to think about our actions differently. In 2022, I believe we have done a fantastic job of bringing awareness on our environmental impact. If we continue to share about the positive changes that we are making, we can make a big difference!
Should there be an environmental cost added to highly impactful products or services? I surely think so. I think that would help people to think twice as the environment certainly pays a price... and thus so do we. Laws can make incredible changes to our world, but certainly changing the demand is more powerful!
I have heard of so many different technologies that are supposed to help with our plastic issue like supposed bacteria that eat plastic, battery systems that are powered from trash, to building blocks made of recycled trash. Though, I have yet to see them implemented in the world around me, I believe in their hope. In the spirit of creation, there is always possibility to make more environmentally responsible choices and changes!
We make a direct impact in our economy and environment by what we place demand on, that is what do we actually consume? Whatever we consume (meaning buy, digest, etc.), we are creating a need for. Where there is need, there is production. By choosing to consume more sustainable products, services, media, etc., we are creating demand for that sustainable service and decreasing for the opposition.
Realizing your power as a consumer, you can dream up the future! Tell me what kind of world you hope to live in? The reason for this article is that a lot of us REALLY love nature. We dream of a world where trees and animals and land are abundant, people are healthy and happy, and everything around us is thriving.
Having this clear idea of a future world, we can plan our action for what we would like to support as though each step we take is paving our way toward a brighter future. This awareness can help you in moment-by-moment decision making:
Do I want only one restaurant open in the future?
Do I want local restaurants open in the future?
Do I want people's dreams to come true?
Do I want large waste buildups?
Do I want fun local shops?
Do I want biodiversity?
Do I want starry nights?
Do I want to see animals in the wild?
These are all empowering questions that you may ask yourself to make intentional decisions that matter to you.
When we think about a sustainable diet, we think about what actually went into getting the food we have in front of us. This helps us not only to express more gratitude and take greater enjoyment, but it also helps us to make better decisions.
With food, we think of the resources that it took for that piece of food to reach us here today. Key points:
Transportation- How far, or how much energy did it take for this food to get here? Something that travelled far put greater CO2 emissions into the air amongst the consumption of fossil fuels or
Creation- How much energy was put into making this product? This is more-or-less how processed an item is, but also relates to the land (and possibly food and technology) that was needed to bring that item to life.
Packaging- How much energy does it take to break down this packaging? Is the packaging reusable or able to be recycled?
Health- Does this provide me with the nutrients that I need to thrive? Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is crucial to you maintaining whatever progress you have made so it is important to keep this in mind. Plus, you will be consuming more if your nutritious needs aren't met in your body's attempt to get what it needs.
Joy - Though, I have not mentioned joy yet, it is the single-most important part of your journey! If you do not enjoy the choices that you are making, they are not likely to last.
In short, the most sustainable food options will be locally sourced, minimally processed, minimally packaged, nutrient dense, and enjoyable.
Remember, that the goal is improvement, not perfection. Celebrate your wins and strive to get a little better each day.
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post on Fast Fashion. Take a look at this article to gain a deeper understanding on the implications of our clothing choices. For now, I will outline a few simple steps in making positively impactful clothing decisions.
Use - How long do you intend on having this item of clothing? The more use that you have out of a particular item, the more sustainable it is! Isn't that fun? :)
Quality - Is it going to last awhile? The less that we are consuming, the less resources we are using up, the greater impact we are making on the environment!
Material - Is the material that it's made out of easily decomposable? I always look for natural fibers. Natural fibers decompose naturally, and a bonus, I find them more comfortable.
Location Made - Did it have to travel far to get here? Are there ethical business practices that I want to support in the place that it comes from? These are healthy considerations when choosing what to support.
Disposal - Is this something that could be donated after use? Is this something that can decompose? Think about the full life of this piece before you buy it, and it will help you to make more sustainable choices.
Joy - Joy leads to satisfaction, which leads to minimized consumption. If you don't absolutely LOVE something, don't buy it! Simple as that.
To summarize, the most sustainable clothing choices will be well loved, well made, and naturally disposable.
Here is another point where we can make a difference. How do we get from A to B? It clearly takes energy to move. That is a concept of working out! We burn calories when we move, and we use resources in transportation. The faster mode of transportation, generally the more resources consumed.
How Often - Is this form of transportation I use often? There are plenty of small changes we can make. Perhaps, we can walk or take the stairs. These small changes can make a huge impact when multiplied by thousands.
Type of Energy - Is this using a renewable form of energy?
Ways to Offset - Is there a way I can contribute positively to offset the resources used? There are plenty of companies that specialize in CO2 emission offsets that include offsetting your daily commute and flights!
Joy - Do I enjoy this form of transportation? After-all, if you don't enjoy it, you are unlikely to continue it. :)
The different forms of faster transportation allow for us to have easier, more productive lives. This uses more resources, but there are ways to minimize and offset our impact to make the practice sustainable.
From cleaning supplies to furniture to the simple things we enjoy, there are always more sustainable choices that we can make. I am sure you are getting the hang of how to make a more sustainable choice now too! A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about minimizing your cleaning supplies.
Location Made - How far did whatever you are buying have to travel? Do you support the laws of that local government?
Materials Used - Are the materials used natural? Clue: if something is manmade, it is more difficult to decompose and thus takes longer for those materials to renew and those resources to become available to us again.
Longevity of Use/Quality - The longer you intend on using something, the less demand that will be created for a replacement item. This also works with how quality an item is. The longer it lasts, the less resources needed for a replacement item.
Disposal - Is this an item that is able to be disposed of naturally? Is this something that can be reused, repurposed, recycled? Is this something that can be donated after my use of it?
Joy - Does this item bring me joy? Remember, joy helps with satisfaction and satisfaction minimizes overconsumption.
Sometimes, a 'sustainable' option isn't apparent, but taking time to make a thoughtful decision makes an impact.
Reduce. Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose.
Simple Question to Ask Yourself When Consuming:
What Am I Supporting?
Sustainable choices are informed choices.
Resources to Help Your Journey:
Good On You App - Discover ethical brands and see how your favorites measure up
Sustainability Magazine - A digital community that supports and connects the world's most sustainable companies and projects
Sustainable Travel International - Offset your travel carbon imprint
Search 'Sustainability Tips' on Your Social Media to find Specific Ideas to Make a Change in Your Life that Resonates with You.
Sharing my Experience:
I try to keep things simple, with my focus on enjoying life (enjoying life for me includes the ethical feelings of responsibility and accountability of making changes that support my dream world). With food, I eat plant-based, try to buy/support local. This is my most ethical and sustainable option. With transportation, I walk most places, but do drive a BMW Coupe, which I very much enjoy. I have resolved to offset my transportation CO2 emissions this year when I travel. With clothing, I buy second-hand, Good On You App approved brand, or natural fiber clothing. With cleaning, I love Second Generation Products, but plan to create my own bottles when I am living on my own. :)
I write all of this, but I do not actually believe in waste. Nothing in life goes to waste. Nothing we learn, nothing in material. The Earth has an incredible way of recycling the materials that we create. The issue is the amount of time that it takes for something to become available to us again. If we make decisions that support high turn around rates in terms of the ability for that resource to be made raw again, then we can go on living rather abundant lifestyles.
This is something I believe in: abundance. We do not have a scarcity of resources. We have abundance of resources, but they are tied up for longer times because of the amount of changes we have made to them. As humans, we have truly created what we have set our minds to. We aimed for easier lives, and that we have created! Where our focus goes, our energy flows. With that being said, the greatest way that we can ensure a life full of abundance of nature is to go out and spend time in nature.
THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR NATURE:
Spend Time in it. Reflect and Share Its Abundance and Importance in Your Life. <3
Sharing your love for nature and glorifying its beauty and peace, will inspire others too. Creating that respect for the world around us is fundamental in maintaining mass sustainable actions for a greener future. I will go further to say that nature has the power to remedy our desire to over-consume. Sending love. XX