“Every time we buy something, we are casting a vote for the kind of world we want to live in”.
When we start a sustainable journey it can be all too easy to want to just get rid of all the plastic in our homes and lives and start fresh with beautiful coconut brushes and kilner jars of food from bulk stores. I think a lot of us look to Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration of how we can make sustainable lifestyle choices in different areas of our lives and we are influenced by these lovely looking, carefully curated images. This Instagram ready vision of what it looks like to be ‘sustainable’ is certainly appealing and I’ve definitely fallen for it myself! I don’t think this is a bad thing at all, if we can be kinder to the world around us whilst making a little more beauty in our lives then why ever not, but I am trying not to get too caught up in it.
‘Every time we buy something, we are casting a vote for the kind of world we want to live in”.
I can never remember where I first read this quote but it really struck me and has stayed at the back of mind for years. It is so true; our consumer culture is the driver behind so many of the global issues we face today. I think that if we step back and take a second to consider the knock-on effect of our purchases we are often faced with more or less sustainable options. Do I really need this prepacked supermarket sandwich (where the packaging will literally last for hundreds of years) simply because it is convenient for me? Or could I buy the loose fruit and veg and have that instead?
I think the thing to remember is that the zero-waste journey is just that, a journey. There is no one formula for how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Everyone is in a different place, has different realistic options available to them and that is fine. The first step has to be recognising the parts of our own lives where we can make sustainable choices. Whether that is simply switching to a reusable coffee cup, choosing not to buy that cheap top from the high street store, cutting down the amount of meat we eat or buying loose vegetables rather than those that come in plastic packaging. I guess that’s what it’s all about really, the choices we make.
It’s true that choosing a sustainable lifestyle can take some effort and prior planning. A lot of the ‘disposable’ and hugely wasteful single use plastics we use every day have come about as a convenient solution help the crazy fast paced lifestyle that so many of us live today. As a part of choosing to waste less we often chose to bring food we have made at home or bring reusable cutlery and straws. Things like making sure to have your shopper on you so that you don’t have to buy a plastic bag or bringing a water bottle so we don’t have to use plastic ones are all planned methods to avoid plastic waste. It is true, this takes a little time and prior planning but it has to be worth it. Small, achievable adjustments are the first step and I promise you, these lifestyle changes which feel like a little effort now, will very quickly just become a part of your daily routine.
In terms of achieving the perfect ‘Instagram ready’ sustainable lifestyle, if we can achieve this in certain areas of our lives, great, if we can’t, absolutely fine. One of the biggest things about living more sustainably is about using what we already have and wasting less. This may well mean using the items we already have rather than say, getting rid and going out to buy bamboo alternatives. If we can avoid buying any plastic in the future then that is the ultimate goal, but in our current lives we are already surrounded with plastic. If we can find creative ways to keep this, perhaps by reusing, repurposing or upcycling we can extend its time in our possession and keep it out of landfill. This has to be the better choice than simply getting rid in place of a prettier, plastic free replacement.
I know I have a long way to go on my sustainable journey, this is just the beginning for me but so far I am loving it. I find it rewarding knowing the choices I make are reducing my footprint on the world around me. To everyone on a low waste/plastic free/sustainable/zero waste journey kudos for even starting, congratulations to where you are so far and good luck for the future! I know we can do it we just have to be realistic with ourselves. In the mean time find me over here taking carefully curated pictures of sustainable lifestyle for my Instagram…