Sustainability and stigma

Stopping the sustainability stigma. 


Thank goodness for Generation Z! No, really, they’re likely to save us all. But they’ve got a lot of work to do, trying to undo all of the damage caused by the rise of convenience in the 70s, the excesses of the 80s and the apathy of the 90s. 


It’s terrifying that climate change has only recently been brought to the public eye on a global scale and, thankfully, the world seems to be taking it more seriously. However, if you want to talk about anything beyond recycling then you may find that your friends begin to edge away from you. Presumably, they are concerned that you are about to launch into a Greta Thunburg style speech about how they have failed the next generation. They may be concerned that you are about to launch into some deranged conspiracy theory about 5g and chemtrails. 


This is the problem with sustainability and eco-living. The meaning of it seems to have been lost somewhere. We need to break down the stigma that it is only for zealots or off-grid, soap-shy, hemp-clad twenty-something poets.  


Working in (what some consider!) the cult of sustainability, we’ve looked at some of the most common misconceptions that we come across on an almost daily basis and our responses


  • Sustainable alternatives aren’t as good. Okay, what exactly is ‘sustainable’? The most often cited definition is the one coined by the Brundtland Report in 1987: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” If we take that as fact, then a sustainable alternative is as simple as reusing the same bag that you used last time you shopped. You can have the same food, just in different packaging. Once we break down this idea that all sustainable alternatives must be made of oats and essential oils, the world of sustainability becomes a lot less obscure. 

  • Green living is expensive. Nope!  It really doesn’t have to be. In fact, with some time to make small changes, the cost of living sustainably or adopting some green living lifestyle changes can actually significantly reduce your outgoings. There are many ways to cut costs when eco-shopping. Not only will you save yourself in the long term, but you are likely to get better quality products.

  • I recycle so I’m already living sustainably. Sorry, but that’s not quite how it works. Recycling definitely helps but there are several issues with relying on it. If we think of recycling as a quick fix - particularly where plastic is concerned - then we still need to be considering materials like glass to replace that single-use plastic as it can be recycled indefinitely. Recycling responsibly isn’t always easy. And unless you can take the time to educate yourself on the correct processes, then you run the risk of not only recycling your own waste but contaminating that of other households. 

  • It’s too confusing trying to shop for sustainable products. Actually, this is fair. It really can be confusing at first. Not least because of the confusion around what sustainability actually entails. As with any change, you need to start small. Something like using a different washing liquid or simply getting a refill at your local zero waste shop. Never be afraid to ask them what are the easiest ways to go about sustainable living. They are experts in their field and are happy to help out. 

  • I can’t make a difference. This one is easy. Yes. You can! The idea of sustainability is to generate less waste in the first instance, so everyday items like bags, nappies, period pants can be reused indefinitely or repurposed to avoid contributing to waste. It doesn’t need everyone to go and live in a tree and stop washing. It just means that we need to make small adjustments. If everyone bought a reusable water bottle instead of a single-use plastic one then that would go a long way towards curbing plastic pollution!
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    Sustainability is good for everyone!

    Of course, there will always be people that think sustainability and eco-conscious living is for hippies. Unfortunately, there's only so much we can collectively do to demonstrate that sustainable living benefits everyone in terms of cost, quality of living and longevity of the planet 

     



    Resources

     

    Brundtland, G. (1987). Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future. United Nations General Assembly document 

    Anders Ankarlidagood.com, 10 popular sustainability mythsagood.com

    brightly.eco, sustainable living myths, (2021)

    Michael Stausholm, These are the five biggest myths around sustainable living, (2021), euronews.com 

    www.conserve-energy-future.com: What are eco-friendly products

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