I talk about many things. One topic that I am quite fond of, is that of sustainability. Food sustainability, sustainability in production, making better purchasing decisions, sustainable fashion…..sustainable living.
Obviously, the reason I write about this topic so often is because it is of high importance to me. (That sounded quite selfish….) I very much enjoy introducing companies I have found that are doing good things, I like having open conversation with you, my readers, about the challenges in achieving sustainability in its different forms. I think that I also write quite often about this, because I am learning about it myself all the time. Also, maybe somewhere in my head, I do desire to help create change – even if it is only by having a dialogue.
The Cambridge dictionary defines Sustainability (environment) as ‘The quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time.’ The way we (those of us not dictionaries) see sustainability encompasses more than the basis for causing no harm and making it last. Sustainability outside of this definition, can be anything from sustainable food practices (buying organic, eating locally, reducing meat intake…), sustainable travel & tourism (minimising the negative effects of tourism, create benefit to the areas…), Sustainable gifts, even sustainable business practices (considering affect on society, treating employees better, long term strategy). In my mind, this makes sustainability more a way of making better decisions. The short-term immediate gratification of the 1980’s introduced a ‘winner take all’ mindset in which people seemed to somehow lose the importance of long-term thinking. After 30+ years of this kind of ‘now now now’ immediate-gratification thinking (like a world of infants), we find ourselves at this moment. A time where we must slow it down. All of it. We need to think about what we are doing, the effects it will have and what options we may have to the obvious questions.
No matter how you see the boundaries of the word ‘sustainability’, it is a very important word for us to keep not only in our vocabulary, but also in our decision making process. Now more than ever, it seems. Especially since the UN Climate Change Summit this year has left the world with little doubt that something MUST be done. Now, not 15th day.
I would like to make better, more sustainable decisions in my every day life. It seems like it would be easy, but it is not. You see, I have a problem…I am spoiled. I’m spoiled by the easy access to foods that shouldn’t be available outside of season. I’m spoiled by how I feel in soft fabrics from high-end stores. I’m spoiled by cheap and trendy clothing options – I can have an entire new look for 20€. I’m spoiled by never having to consider the labour behind my purchases. I’m spoiled because I live in a time where the only thing we have to think about, is ourselves. And SO ARE YOU! We all are, no? So the question is then, how do we bring ourselves off our clouds of cotton and realise that it is up to us to make the change to sustainability? That WE have to do the work. Especially if we expect corporations to make big changes. After all, businesses follow the money. Our money. As consumers, this is our power.
There have been efforts here.
Remember the sustainable food experiment? Eating only local or what I could cook myself (actual food making with only actual ingredients). That did not last so long as I hoped for. What resulted was me learning to make tortillas (easiest bread possible), muffins with fresh berries I picked and eating buckets full of berries, summer squash and mushrooms. I was not well prepared for that experiment. However, since that experiment, I have found myself eating more local produce, eating in season fruit/veg and not craving so much the ready food at the food store. I have not been baking. I don’t love baking… But I should be baking. The challenge with eating more sustainably is that its difficult. We like easy. I will inform you if I discover the secret to success with this.
I have also tried saving my money to invest in more sustainable, higher quality, possible hand made options. (Pro tip: Saving money is much easier if you actually have money. So, saving was a fail.) I did stop shopping. My new plan for this (because a lady has to have something nice sometimes) is to find a couple best options in my colour (if its a handmade leather bag) or in my size (if its clothing) or my favourite design (if its something else) and save those items and when people ask what I want for my birthday, or holidays. I can suggest that people put what money they would have spent towards one of those items (or a gift card for that store – if they offer gift cards). Holidays are quite often and I have found that my loved ones are usually happier if I give them an idea instead of them spending forever searching for the ‘perfect gift’. But only if they ask. Otherwise, I love personal selected gifts! *If you do this, please don’t go weird with it. I’ve had people insist I only give some or another thing and it really takes the fun out of gift giving.
Also, when you find yourself with only a few new items in a year, you appreciate that item so much more. I don’t quite understand how that works, but it does seem like the more often new things come to us – the less we appreciate them. Sustainable items do come with a higher price than we have been paying (average). Of course it does! That price displays that the workers are being paid a living wage, perhaps the logistic transport was also a green/slow method, and the items are made by craftsmen and sold by a company that pays attention to the details across the growth – production – logistical – labour – business processes. Quality items cost money. Quality items also last soooooooo much longer than the rubbish we are buying now. This is why QUALITY BASICS are a thing. Basics never go out of style (now that I’ve said that, all of my basics will be out of style next week) and quality lasts. Win-win. The challenge here, I would say, is that we must relearn how to shop as conscious consumers. Our current processes will not work with the new sustainable system.
As a luxury-loving convenience monster myself, I know that the change into a more sustainable lifestyle will be slow. But slow is a sustainability keyword, so maybe its a good thing.
How is sustainability changing your decisions?