I write a lot about the problems of what I will refer to as “social sustainability” – rather the conversations that surround sustainability, green living, zero-waste and all that it entails. I’ve mentioned it a little bit here on my blog and I regularly, like a broken record, preach about it to the few followers who bother to read what I have to say. Maybe the metaphorical record is broken and maybe I won’t throw it away because I’m a hoarder and I have a lot of guilt surrounding throwing trash but mostly, I say it as often as I do because it is important that the message I am sharing breaks through the tweets about straw-bans and bamboo forks.
Your efforts are enough. You alone will not save the earth. In this case, perfection is the enemy of good. You do not need to do everything right to make an impact and don’t let social media make you think otherwise. I could go on and on about how sustainability as a trend is terrible but then by doing so, I also ignore those who are just jumping on the wagon thinking that their efforts are in vain because they’re doing the wrong thing .
I want you to know it’s okay to get sucked into it. Capitalistic tendencies are hard to break out of and companies prey on people who have good intentions to lure them in with “sustainable products” that ironically still have a huge carbon footprint. It isn’t your fault if you didn’t know. You have so much time to learn and so much time to work on your own footprint and share the message.
When I share these messages on my social media, I try my best to be as docile as possible. I understand how it can be intimidating and off-putting it can be when someone criticizes your good intentions in a harsh manner. However, I will do my best not to say “yes your intentions are good but” and instead lead with “here’s more ways to be mindful”. I will to my best to share sustainable messaging and information without coming off like I am attacking or am better than anyone. And finally, I will do my best to share more “work in progress” type messaging that emphasizes that I am not a perfect person when it comes to sustainability and that I still have failures.
Here are a few of my sustainable practices at the moment:
- Looking for tea bags that are wrapped in paper only with no staples on the tag
- Purchasing groceries that come with as little plastic packaging or easily recyclable packaging (eg cans vs plastic bottles)
- Buying laundry packs with powdered plant-based detergent in it vs. plastic bottles of the same brand detergent
- Purchasing locally grown fruit and vegetables where applicable
And my failings? I’ve done a lot more online purchases recently because this pandemic. 90% of baby’s wardrobe has been hand-me-downs from my sister’s kids or were thrifted. I only stocked up to 6 months in clothing, not knowing we’d head into a pandemic and I was not willing to go look for bigger sizes at another person’s house. So I ended up buying 9m+ clothes new online, since online thrifts are still out of my price range. Also, a lot of baby snacks have thick plastic packaging so I have to come to terms with that as well. I have puff containers that are piling up for reuse. Also, too much take out food. I also don’t purchase a lot of fresh produce because I have a bad habit of not using them in time – so a lot of frozen bags of vegetables take up my freezer.
I certainly do not feel the greatest about having to make these choices but I have to come to terms with the fact that I will not always make the most sustainable decisions.
I am trying, of course. I still use cloth diapers, I am still mindful of the packaging of things I purchase, and I do my best to use things until the end of its life. But like I said, this is a work in progress. It will always be.