My relationship with being a more conscious consumer started about six years ago when I learned about animal testing with cosmetics, and my eyes have been open since. I began buying cruelty-free everything – makeup, shower products, cleaning supplies. Then I started thinking about other parts of life’s bigger picture, too. I began utilizing my city’s recycling program, becoming more aware of my plastic and single-use usage… Every small change rolled into different habits, many I still hold today. My lifestyle started to shift and has continued over the years.
But living a sustainable lifestyle can get a bad rap. I asked my instagram community a while back about what issues they have with trying to live more sustainably and got a lot of great, honest feedback! Today, I’m sharing 5 of the biggest misconceptions about sustainability as well as the top reason my community thinks it’s important to try anyway.
It’s All or Nothing
I used to be a really big all or nothing type of person – just read my post on black and white thinking to get a peek into how unhealthy that is. Sustainability is no different! Because you are a human, there will be so many things outside your control that prevent you from living totally zero waste. Unless you live on a private island you never leave, grow your own food, and are completely excluded from the outer world, in which case you wouldn’t be able to read this anyway 😉
But here’s the thing: most of us don’t live that way or even have access to be a tenth of that. In my area, there aren’t really any bulk stores, it’s not walkable, but we try to combat that by utilizing the bulk bins at our grocery stores (with reusable produce bags!) and carpool whenever possible.
Most of my closet is full of clothes from my two favorite, super sustainable shops – Everlane and Pranavida Style (#shamelessplug to use code ALEXA15 for 15% off the best leggings ever!). I also have a good chunk of new and thrifted clothes from Target, The Loft, Aerie (side note: I absolutely LOVE their inclusivity and body positivity! 🙌).
We make our own veggie broth but also go through a TON each week and need to buy some, too. I normally carry reusable bags and mugs – sometimes I forget them. And sometimes, a sustainable solution is not accessible for all. Since being diagnosed with two chronic illnesses, my entire outlook (of life in general) has changed. There are a lot of items I need for my care that are unfortunately wasteful. And there are a lot of people with disabilities that need items like straws, grocery delivery services, and more. Never feel bad or guilty for using “wasteful” items for your health. Never ever.
The point is, this does not have to be all or nothing. Just because you can’t do everything, doesn’t mean you can’t do something! Start small – I believe in you!
While Instagram may make you think it’s an expensive lifestyle, having a more sustainable lifestyle will actually save you money. You don’t need to buy bamboo cutlery or fancy reusables – in fact, unless you need something, that kind of contradicts the whole point of reducing waste, right? Psst… I wrote a great post on gathering a low-waste kit without breaking the bank!
Bringing your own cup to different coffee shops normally comes with a discount on your drink. Seeking out whole foods can be more cost effective because you’re not paying for processing and packaging. Investing in certain items may cost more up front but will save you so much in the end – great example would be a menstrual cup, which has saved me hundreds of dollars – and a lot of tampons – over the years. And all around, when you have a more sustainably conscious lifestyle, you simply don’t buy as much in general.
“I can’t make a difference”
I get it. Some days, I feel really discouraged too. It can be hard to see the big picture of the impact you actually can make, but think about snowfall… One snowflake may not seem like much until you’re looking at an entire mountain of it. Just like your vote matters, every effort, big or small, for the planet matters too.
It’s New Age
Sustainability is far from a new concept – maybe it hasn’t always been called that, but it’s been around forever. Just like my paternal grandparents taught me about a positive outlook and focusing on gratitude, my maternal grandma teaches me so much about living low waste. She’s been refilling the same plastic soap dispenser for longer than I’ve been alive, lets no food go to waste, fixes what’s broken… And while she, of course, is not all or nothing with these actions and isn’t necessarily doing them to save the planet, I learn from her all the time in how to be more sustainable. So new age? No way!
It’s Too Overwhelming
This is one I really vibe with – or at least I used to. It can be really overwhelming if you put a lot of pressure on yourself, think you can’t make a difference, or feel tons of eco-anxiety weighing on your shoulders. But you must start small, be patient with yourself and others, believe in your efforts, and simply do your best. Even being more conscious about your purchases and lifestyle is a great first step.
Why it Matters
Connecting to a “why” normally helps a lot with your “how”. One of my biggest whys is simply because I love this home of ours – I love the oceans and trees and dirt and birds… My connection to Earth is so strong, and I want to do my best to protect Her. For most people, taking care of the planet for future generations is the biggest motivator for living a sustainable lifestyle. I don’t know about you, but I want my future kiddos, their kids, your kids and grandkids to have life on this beautiful planet. So big or small, I want to help by doing things that can help make that happen!
Want more sustainable topics? Dive into these!