Good for Environment, Good for Me
We all care about our physical and mental health. We can all recognise the beauty of a healthy environment. Unfortunately, there are a lot of products out there that damage the environment and our health. Consumers put constant pressure on producers to cut costs and use the cheapest materials. Only now are we seeing the true cost of plastics and other non-biodegradable resources (read on to find out how common polyester clothes are the biggest ocean polluter).
The Classy Consumer Demands Better. This consumer is mindful of their impact. They buy less and demand responsible sourcing, durability, classic style and quality. In fact, some well made products have exceeded the consumers expectations.
Nothing is Truly ‘At No Extra Cost’
Most consumers demand discount prices, pretty packaging and special extras. The packaging that comes with our purchases is not actually free. We pay for all that packaging that we simply throw away. The cost of the packaging is in the price of the object. In addition to this hidden payment is the burden on many others to pay to rid it from the oceans.
Products and packaging made with biodegradable materials are increasingly rare. Young people are wondering how we survived before plastics. It would be nice to have a green triple bottom line: fair prices, classy looks and good for the environment. Even when I find a trustworthy company, I need to read the label, question the materials used, estimate the product durability and the capacity of the item to be re-used or re-purposed.
Our Consumption Influences Production
There are ways to avoid being a passive consumer of waste. There are questions we can ask and more choices than ever before.
- Plug the everyday losses. Most people have wasted money, time, energy, resources and food-waste. There are abundant weight-loss programs, pills, cosmetics, books, personal energy at the gym instead of walking to work. There are currently more overweight people in the world than starving people. To put this into perspective, more than 17 thousand people die of hunger each year.
Embrace free energy sources (this includes our own physical labour ie. walking, gardening, making things). Most of us enjoy free access to sunshine, wind, gravity, animals, plants, water, rain, microorganisms.
- Take pride. We all produce energy, ideas and things. We make heat, noise, movement, kinetic energy, movement, thinking, planning. Take pride in what we produce and check that it adds value to life.
- Cut the embodied waste. Many people have surplus money, wasted housing space, storage space. Then there is that pile of surplus possessions like extra bikes, unused boats, old cars, tools, furniture, clothes, shoes, books. There are mountains of gadgets that we hoard, throw out or give as gifts. Start sharing and look to hire instead of buying. Hiring a boat, a caravan, a holiday house, an evening gown, a machine or more enables the item to be well stored, maintained and shared.
- Become productive (make stuff, fix things, build relationships, pick food, cook, pickle, make cider, forage, be inventive with your gifts). Do a permaculture course to learn more about cutting your waste and designing your own productive lifestyle.
Get Close and Personal
Rather than feeling overwhelmed with the extent of our impact, we can make a start where it counts two ways – less toxins up close and a change for a better environment. These changes include washing powder, shampoos, creams, lotions and cosmetics.
By not buying any plastic-based products we make a difference to what we put on our bodies and what washes out into the environment.
Gentle Footprints Can Wash Away
We are all consumers. Every minute we are consuming something (energy, space, food, light, warmth). Our footprint doesn’t have to leave a mess for the next generation to try to clean up. If we insist on biodegradable products, our footprint can safely wash away. With mindful choices we can turn our consumption into an enriching legacy for future generations.
Am I a Silent Polluter?
Many of us pollute the seas without even knowing. Each time we wash our clothing, micro-fibres wash out past the high-tech filters and into the sea. One of the latest and surprising research findings about plastics in the ocean is that the biggest source of the invasive pollution (worse than micro-beads from cleaning products) is polyester clothing.
It is very hard to purchase all natural fibre clothing (especially undergarments that hold things in the right places) but by buying less and using it for longer, we can make a difference.
Natural clothing fibers include:
- Rayon (made from wood pulp)
- Bamboo (processed without heavy chemicals)
- Linen (made from flax)
- Jute (a very coarse fiber used for things like carpets, not clothing)
Natural animal clothing fibers include:
Try to buy direct from humane farmers who care for their animals
- Wool (fleece from sheep, goats, alpaca, lamas)
- Angora (collected from Rabbits)