I’ve always been theoretically interested in sustainability, very pro-recycling, anti-deforestation and all that. In reality, however, I wasn’t really doing much. I didn’t think twice about getting a plastic bottle from 7/11 before a hike (“It’s fine!” I told myself, “you’ll recycle!”) or a Styrofoam takeaway. But about a year ago, something changed: all of a sudden, I was vehemently against single-use plastic bottles. Soon after, I was refusing take-away cups. Next came my personal ban on straws, and after that, it all just sort of snowballed. Today, I’m active in zero-waste Facebook groups, I email restaurants and companies about their plastic use, I buy sustainable (and cruelty free) cosmetics, I don’t leave the house without a reusable straw and I preach so much about it that I get messages from friends when they’ve remembered to bring their own cup to the coffeeshop.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not zero waste, not even close. I’ll probably never be able to fit years of rubbish into a small mason jar—but I’m doing my best. Why am I saying this? Because I think there’s a misconception surrounding people who are trying to live sustainably. It doesn’t mean forgoing all earthly pleasures and becoming some forest-dwelling swamp-creature unfit for society. You don’t have to throw away everything you own, and you’re not required to smell like a commune. You can wear nice clothes, go out for dinner, brush your teeth and even use deodorant—you just make better choices, opting for products and places that think ethically and sustainably.
In fact, finding an incredible community of makers and doers, people who have dedicated their lives to creating high-quality, beautiful products that are good for you and the environment, is probably the most rewarding thing from this journey. I guess you could call it ‘slow living’, the antidote to fast-fashion and everything that comes with it: poor quality materials, high turnover and all the rest.
I love the products that I’ve found, like locally-made deodorant in a tin, beautiful bamboo cutlery, gorgeous handmade soaps and solid shampoos. I’ve even got my eyes on a stainless-steel razor and paperless towels. Most of these items come from small businesses, meaning each purchase really makes an impact. I never thought I’d feel ‘good’ about putting on deodorant, but when I’ve had a conversation with the woman who makes it – I do. I think about how much better it is for my body and for the world. I love not throwing away heaps of unnecessary waste each day and I love trying new products to find the ones that work for me. It’s my own kind of self-care I suppose, and maybe it’ll work for you too.
If this is something that sounds interesting to you, I hope you enjoy some of the stories we put out this week in honour of World Environment Day and World Oceans Day. And even more, I hope you start to adopt small changes in your own life. Let us know what you’re doing to help the environment on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.