In fact, sustainability can only work if it doesn’t feel like you have to make a sacrifice on the altar of altruism, but rather do something that feels right on every level. The issue we circled around for a long time involves a totally different element: it’s often about engrained habits rather than not wanting to chip in.
Ask yourself what kind of things you do to be sustainable, to do your part to save the world: Do you recycle? Do you consider the amount of packaging when you shop? Do you fix and mend things? Or do support organisations in favour of such things?
Let’s take a look at recycling. You might think there are only two camps: Camp 1 chucks all rubbish in a black bag and forgets about recycling. Camp 2 is religious and recycles everything, properly (including washing out plastic packaging and ripping out the clear windows from envelopes). Obviously, those are two extremes, and you’ll find that most people are somewhere in the middle, out of choice or for lack of opportunity.
The point about balance is that we’ll have to find a spot in the sustainability grey zone that feels comfortable, maybe a little challenging, but by no means too hard to continue without having to push yourself every single time.
So much about recycling, let’s take a look at the other end of living: how sustainable is your lifestyle when it comes to consuming things? Do you buy fast fashion items or do you look for long-life items that can serve you for years? Do you actively look for foods without packaging (or at least minimal amounts)?
Sustainability comes in many shapes and sizes and can be applied to all levels of life, from education to shopping, from rubbish disposal to travel options. Very few of us will be in a position to go 100% sustainable, and neither can we rely on governments or industries to go full throttle, of course, and I have little hope that any of you or myself will ever have enough influence on those big units to make a dent.
However, what each of us can do is actively look for things we can commit to doing, be it being more conscientious about recycling, considering more seriously if we really need that latest phone, how we can avoid food waste, buying more locally, limiting online shopping and delivery to those items we cannot find in a shop in town (less transport pollution). We need to take those decisions for each area in our lives and find that balance between “I WOULD LIKE TO do that” and “I WOULD HATE TO do that” and end up in a place of “I CAN and WILL do that”.
Of course, some couldn’t be bothered at all without outside pressure, but I would hope that those who have gotten this far and are reading my blog would be self-motivated enough to take that next step.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.