There are heaps (like, thousands) of posts out there telling us how or how not to be sustainable. It’s not a bad thing, but it can be overwhelming at times – because you know you’re doing the best you can and yet it seems there is a lot more you could be doing. So this isn’t another “How To Be More Sustainable” post, I’m merely interested in the ways we incorporate sustainability, and ethical living into our daily life. I guess it comes down to how you look at sustainability and what it means to you.
For me, sustainability means being conscious of what I use and eat every day. Being aware of how my actions, as an individual, can have a harmful (or beneficial) effect on the Earth. What is it they say? Vote with your money. This is something I (unconsciously) put into action 4 years ago when I went vegan, and it’s something I have done purposefully more recently when I decided not to buy cheap clothes or toys from big companies anymore. But I am not perfect, and living a sustainable life is not about perfection. It’s about reducing the impact on the Earth, it’s about lessening the grips of consumerism on our lives.
At home, my partner and I try to do what we can to be better humans. We don’t go on shopping sprees and buy things we don’t need, we use eco friendly cleaners and other house products without chemicals, we have our bamboo toothbrushes/reusable bags/water bottles/tupperware/jars/straws etc so that we don’t rely on plastic, we recycle, we have started composting our food, and we even try to avoid buying food wrapped in plastic at the supermarket (how hard is this, though?!).
Something I am struggling with in this small, rural, New Zealand town is shopping at the whole foods shop instead of the supermarket, because you can’t get everything there and it’s not as accessible. I’m working on changing my mindset on going to the whole foods shop. At the end of the day, I do see it as the best option for me, my health, as well as the Earth so I need to stop looking at it as a chore to go, and start incorporating it into my routine.
Additionally, I ride a moped most of the year (way too cold in winter). So that’s a great eco friendly way of getting around, it saves me using the car as much as I would otherwise.
What we eat
As mentioned, I went vegan about 4 years ago. I started as a vegetarian but knew veganism was the only way for me (I didn’t like dairy anyway!). My partner eats the same meals as I do at home, and he understands the reason behind it, even respects the way we are lessening our impact on the planet this way. However, he is a cheese lover and will still buy a block of cheese every week as well as his own bottle of cow’s milk. Though I don’t agree with this, as I know what they cost the animals and the Earth, it’s no small thing for me that he is at least a vegetarian at home. I won’t delve into all the ways veganism is the way forward and how animal agriculture is ruining the planet, but it’s worth pointing out since cutting out meat and dairy, or even just reducing consumption of it, is the most helpful thing one can do for the Earth.
Buying organic is another way I try to vote with my money. This one is a toughie because it is costly. And let me say that more often than not, we don’t buy organic fruit and veg in our big weekly shop, but have been more mindful of doing so in recent weeks. Not only did I come to the realisation that the bright, almost neon, orange carrots we were getting probably weren’t even a real vegetable at this point, but my partner agreed that surely it wasn’t the best thing for us to put in our bodies either. So organic carrots it is!
Oh, we also grew our own bell peppers over the summer which is super handy, and when we can, we will try and grow more of our own foods. This is a huge step in connecting more with nature and what the Earth can provide, as well as being aware of what we put in our bodies, I think.
Goodbye big companies
See ya later, corporations, hello small businesses! My partner and I are trying not to be such consumers. Again, we’re not perfect at this, and if we can’t find something we cannot seem to get locally or from a small business, we will resort to online stores… an example would be buying something from Kmart. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice about ordering anything and everything from Kmart, it’s so convenient. But that’s just it, nowadays I am trying my damn hardest to put myself, the Earth and other people/communities before convenience. And I have fallen in love with shopping with small businesses.
There is a great online space called Chooice here in NZ, where small businesses can have their shops all in one place which makes it practical yet still sustainable. Instagram and Twitter are also bursting at the seams with small businesses with lots to offer. For clothing, it’s easy for me to find second hand gems on Designer Wardrobe if there is something I desperately need.
And there you have it, what I do to live more sustainably. Arguably, the best thing to happen to the Earth would be for the big guys to stop being greedy a-holes and actually take action, but for now, I think we need to do our bit and keep being the voices of the future. After all, we have just triggered Code Red, a real climate emergency, and people need to take responsibility.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Is there something you do to be more sustainable that I haven’t spoken about?
Until Next Time,