Today, I thought it might be interesting to share some of the common misconceptions about sustainability, and share some of my views on them. Fingers crossed this doesn’t just come over as a big rant!
You have to throw things away
This is one of the most important things that I want to share with you today. If you are starting out on your sustainability journey I am sure you wanting to try some of the “ethical” products you have seen. Please don’t just go and throw away the things you already have because you want to look like a zero-waste pintrest board. Why? Becuase this is even more wasteful! If you have some plastic storage boxes which work perfectly well then that’s great! There is no need to go out and get sustainable alternatives when you already have something at home. In the same way, don’t throw away bottles of shampoo or shower gel because they aren’t in bar form. If you want to change to using shampoo bars then that’s great but wait until you need to replace the item you already have.
If you really want to get rid of the plastic in your house because you just can’t bare to look at it, why not check out this amazing app! Olio is a place where you can give away (and receive) things for free to someone who needs them. How cool is that! Same goes for if you have a bag of rice but you are desperate to head out to your local refill store then you can also put food on there.
It is expensive
Sure, some of the more eco-friendly swaps that I will be sharing over the next few months will cost a bit more than what you’re used to spending. I am not going to lie to you about that but it isn’t as expensive as you might think. Living sustainably is, at it’s core, about using what you already have and if you manage to do that effectively you will be spending less money.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to utilise the food you already have and taking the time to make things yourself. I will talk A LOT more about this soon because it’s something I really love doing myself. What if I said you should start your weekly shop without leaving your house. I haven’t lost the plot bear with me. You should start by using what’s already in your fridge and cupboards and you will save a fortune. Trust me on this, we eat really well in this household and we only spent £23 on our food shopping yesterday. That will feed two of us for over a week.
When we first moved into our flat we laid out a budget and put aside £60 a week for our food and toiletries. If we only spent £23 on our food this week then that leaves us with £37 spare. So when you look at a shampoo bar that might cost £2-3 more than what you’re used to spending it suddenly doesn’t seem so bad!
Another thing, did you know refill stores aren’t always more expensive than the supermarket. If you live in Gloucester, UK please check out Fill Your Boots. They are awesome but others can sometimes be expensive, so check in your local area. I am counting down the days until I am back in Gloucester so I can get dried goods at a competitive price again.
You have to do it all at once
I’m going to try to make this one quite quick because I hope by now you will have already picked up on this theme! But in case you haven’t here’s a reminder.
When we first start out on our zero waste journey it is incredibly difficult not to suddenly start seeing waste EVERYWHERE! But we are not superhuman nor do we have an endless amount of time or money. This means that we simply can’t do it all at once even if we wanted to. But even if you’re reading this thinking “well I actually am a superhuman thank you very much”, I would just like you to consider whether its worth making too many changes at once that you can’t keep up with and eventually just give up on or is it better to make changes as and when you run out of something?
If you really do want to make changes quickly, why not commit to making one small change every week for the next year. It might seem small to start with but in 365 days time you’ll be able to say “hey past me, look at these 52 changes I have made and maintained”. The key thing here is not reverting back to old habits so take it at your own pace.
Oops sorry that wasn’t quick!
It is only for a certain type of person
This one is actually a very complicated issue in itself and raises a lot of other issues. I think I might actually talk about this in more depth in the coming weeks but for now here is just one thought. Is it only some people’s responsibility to care for the world or is it everyone’s? If we all made small steps then the world would be in a much better state.
I know some of you are beginners at this so here is a really well known quote if you haven’t heard it before. I personally think it sums it up rather nicely.
We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly. – Anne-Marie Bonneau
Zero-waste means Zero waste
As I said in Monday’s blog post, being totally zero-waste is an impossibility. There is this image that floats around that annoys me, quite frankly. It is a glass jar filled with a person’s weekly waste. To me, the concept of being able to easily achieve is bonkers.
While this is a great goal, for most of us this can’t be achieved. Goals are meant to push us to be our best selves but it’s okay if we don’t quite achieve them. If you are struggling with that concept, just let me tell you how hard it was for me, as a perfectionist, to type that sentence! While we all need to be disciplined, we need to be careful not too be too hard on ourselves in the process.
You have to be vegan
If I have upset you from the subheading, just hear me out okay? It is well known that animal products have a massive impact on the environment and I am not denying that. But, vegans aren’t the only people who can make sustainable changes in their lives. If you are making your first steps on your sustainability journeys this isn’t the only place to start. Especially, if you have certain dietary requirements.
Think about it this way, there are two people – one is vegan and gets on a plane once a week and dumps single use plastics in a river. The other eats meat but always shops locally, composts at home and has mostly eliminated their food and plastic waste. I think its safe to say that neither of these examples are perfect but who is to say one is better than the other. I am not suggesting I have calculated the exact carbon footprint of each individual but the key point is that they are both making an effort to change their habits.
Personally, I am not a vegan. While I would class myself as a vegetarian and a lot of my meals are vegan, I do eat animal products on occasion. The reason for this is I am imperfect just like you and I’m in the process of transition. I have been working to reduce the animal products I eat but I am not there yet. For example, I had milk on my cereal this morning but I also had an order of nuts arrive today because I have been researching how to make nut milk. See my point?
Basically what I am saying is yes it is great to be vegan and I probably will be one day. But, and this is a big but, it does not exclude you from making steps to be more sustainable if you aren’t vegan. Cool I hope I’ve not upset too many people there.
Thank you for coming and reading today’s blog post! If there is anything else I have missed why not leave a comment below. Also, if you want me to go into more detail in later posts just send me a quick message to let me know.