This weeks blog post comes from the lovely Laura at Rain and Wild Candles. Based in Navan, Ireland, Laura creates sustainable, earth-positive candles and is keen to share her understanding of sustainability.
Living a greener lifestyle is all about protecting the environment, it’s about depriving yourself of nice things, and it’s too expensive for the average person just trying to get by.
If some part of that sentence resonated with you – you’re not alone.
And while those statements might be true in some respects, they don’t represent the whole truth.
I want to share with you why going green is as much for people as the planet, why depriving yourself is not the goal, and why changing to an eco-friendly life should be a gradual process, not a shortcut to bankrupting yourself.
Here we go.
Eco Myth #1 – Going green is only about saving the Earth
Saving the planet is important. Reducing your Co2 emissions, cutting out the plastic, reusing stuff instead of chucking it – these are all important things. But it’s also about much more than that.
Environmental justice is about the planet and the people. We all live here. We should all live here equally.
Who are the people who will be most affected by climate change? Are poorer areas more vulnerable? And, crucially; are the people who are most at risk, the least heard?
It’s an unfortunate truth that while you might be able to turn your thermostat down when the planet gets warmer, many people simply won’t have that option. They might have no choice but to live in, for example, an area prone to climate change induced flooding, or that experiences increasingly extreme weather patterns.
They might live in a country that contributes very little by way of CO2 emissions, but be more far more at risk of being impacted by a changing climate.
Telling those people to go green is not only unfair – it’s a joke. They are disproportionately affected by a situation they didn’t cause.
Reducing your emissions is not just about saving the planet, it’s about protecting the people who are going to be hardest hit by climate change. It’s about protecting those who are going to be least able to cope.
Eco Myth #2 – The eco life is about depriving yourself of nice things
No way! And not only is this mindset wrong, it’s counterproductive to the whole sustainability movement. Choosing to live a greener lifestyle doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of all the stuff you love to do or buy.
It’s about doing the things you love in a more earth friendly way. Love shopping, but hate how the fast fashion industry operates? Checking out thrift shops, using a site like Depop, or buying from small scale local businesses can help you get your guilt-free fix.
It might take a little more thought and research, but eco-friendly alternatives are out there and getting more popular by the minute. From shopping for sustainably crafted gifts, to getting your caffeine fix in a reusable mug, the only limit is your imagination.
Becoming some sort of martyr is only going to make yourself miserable, and more likely to give up on living sustainably. And if people see that what you’re doing is no fun, then they’re a heck of a lot less likely to join you.
What we need are many people doing sustainability imperfectly, not a few doing it to an extreme degree.
Eco Myth #3 – Living a greener life is too expensive
This one is certainly true to an extent. If you go out and buy all those sustainable swaps, of course it’s going to end up more expensive. Many eco products are made by small businesses, who can’t afford to price things at bottom dollar (nor should they!).
That being true, while the initial cost of say, a shampoo bar, may be more than the plastic alternative, eco products often last a lot longer. I’ve had my Janni shampoo bar for three months now, using it daily, and it just about needs replacing.
What we should be aiming to do, is using everything we currently have around us before deciding to buy the eco alternative. Simply throwing out all your stuff and replacing them is not eco-friendly at all. Use what you have first.
We don’t live in a perfect world – there’s no point trying to live perfectly in it.
Live your green life imperfectly, rope your friends along for the ride, and watch the world change one bamboo spork at a time.
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