I never in a million years ever thought I would give a sh*t about sustainability, but when you move to Austin, you learn about it and care about it! And once you know better, you have to do better.
There is no Planet B, y’all. We have to start learning, caring, and putting our words into action on how to take better care of our planet. Earth is becoming a wasteland, our air is full of pollution, and our food is being contaminated by toxins and microplastics that enter our food through our water supply from waste. People are getting sick, people are dying, and our ecosystem is dying.
I am by NO MEANS an expert on recycling or sustainability. Hell, I drive an SUV. But I am doing my part by educating myself and doing the best I can to contribute to lessening my waste and spending my money with companies who put sustainability at the forefront of their mission. 1 Million people acting sustainably imperfectly is better than 100 people acting sustainably perfectly.
Sustainability is more than just Recycling
What is sustainability exactly? There is a lot that is involved with sustainability so I will make this short and succinct. Sustainability is ensuring the preservation of our planet and resources for as long as possible. It’s not just about recycling. It’s about limiting our water usage, chemicals in our food and products, pollution in the air. It’s about the entire ecosystem and how we can sustain life on Earth.
Have you heard of a Certified B-Corp before? Certified B-Corporations are companies that put People and our Planet before Profits. B-Corp certification is extremely difficult to obtain and maintain. When I see a B-Corp label on a product, I am more likely to purchase that over the other brands.
Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. In the B Economy, businesses compete to be best for the world, the people living in it, and the natural environment on which our quality of life depends.
Did you know the fashion industry is the second largest industry to create the most waste and pollution? It stands second next to the oil & gas industry. Isn’t that wild?!?! Think about all the dyes and pollutants entering into our water supply from these manufacturing companies, plus all of the pollutants entering the air from the constant machinery and work that goes into making clothes and shoes.
Here are some ideas to get a new wardrobe while keeping it green:
- Host a clothing swap with friends or strangers with similar style and sizes
- Sell and buy your clothes at resale or consignment shops such as Poshmark, Mercari, and Plato’s Closet. Kudos if you can find a local shop so you don’t emit any pollution by having to ship items
- Shop only ethical and sustainable brands. If they aren’t marketing that they are sustainable, they probably aren’t.
A sustainable food system is a system that provides healthy food to us while providing sustainable impacts environmentally, and economically. Sustainable food is food that is produced humanely and good for our planet.
I’m sure you have seen food labels that say “NON-GMO! HORMONE FREE! GRAIN FREE! GRASS FED!” and these labels show us that these farmers are doing their best to produce the best to provide the highest quality product.
Although these labels are great-you also want to make sure these foods are not greenwashed. Meaning, you want to make sure these claims and labels are valid and they’re not just using those words to capture your attention. Some foods can be Grass Fed (which is AMAZING), but you also have to make sure they are grass finished. There’s a big difference between cage-free eggs, vegetarian eggs (chickens are fed a vegetarian diet) and free-range eggs. Just make sure you know what you’re putting in your body and be sure to review the ingredient labels. Some companies use those terms as marketing tactics.
Tips to shop sustainable food:
- Shop Organic when you can
- EWG’s Clean Fifteen list is the perfect list to show you which produce contains the least amount of pesticides when growing, and they are not genetically modified.
- EWG’s Dirty Dozen shows you what produce is grown with the most amount of pesticides. You’ll want to buy these Organic!
Why are sustainable products usually more expensive?
Sustainable products are usually more expensive because it takes a lot of resources to ensure the process and materials that go into making products are actually good for the planet. Some reasons that sustainable products are more expensive is because of supply chain implications. Companies have to take into consideration the economic effects of every single element that goes into their products. Companies could use labels or bottles that come from overseas, but they decide to choose to make them in the contiguous country they live in to decrease emissions from traveling/shipping. All of these must be considered when making a sustainable product and that’s usually why it is more costly to produce. On the flip side of that… Haven’t you ever wondered why other ordinary products are so much cheaper?? Does that concern you at all?
5 things you can do right now to start your sustainability journey WITHOUT spending a dime:
- BYOB. Bring your own bags to the grocery stores
- Be more conscious of how long you shower and turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth
- Start a recycling bin. Here’s a great resource to learn what can and cannot be recycled
- The saying goes, “Another man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and there is so much truth in that. DONATE, don’t trash!
- UPCYCLE. I upcycle glass jars by using them for crafts, storage, or grease catch jars for cooking.
I hope this article shed some light on sustainability in layman’s terms. Like I said, I am no sustainability expert, but I am doing my best to do better and to treat the planet better. In the words of Bretman Rock… “because without turtles…. There wouldn’t be turtles.”