I believe right now our environment is at a "make it or break it" point. Humans have been living on planet Earth for 6 million years. Throughout our time here we have mastered a lot of skills, developed new technology that our ancestors probably never even dreamed about, and also have done quite a bit of damage to our planet.
We didn't realize even 15 years ago that when you throw something out of your car window or out onto a street that it doesn't just "disappear". Not everything decomposes into the ground. Having new fast fashion companies such as H&M and Forever 21 introduce extremely low priced clothing in abundance. No one thought about the repercussions of most of the population buying more and more. Marketing was geared towards buying more and that you needed to, and you could because everything was so cheap! Clothing also became disposable - instead of donating, repairing or reselling - because that t-shirt was only $10, once it got a hole or stain many didn't twice about throwing it into their garbage. It was no longer cool in high school to wear the same clothes as the year before, instead of just replacing the clothes and buying replacements for your wardrobe it became common to buy a whole new wardrobe.
Very few knew what was going on behind the scenes or even questioned what was happening with our planet, with other developing countries and the people, with the amount of textile "waste" that was being disposed of that wouldn't decompose in the landfill because it simply doesn't.
A professor of mine once used the analogy of a baby chick that grows inside the egg until the egg no longer provides enough nutrients and is too small to keep protecting and providing for the chick. Once the chick hatches it is completely vulnerable and must relearn a new way of life outside of the egg. How to find food, how to fly, how to defend itself - etc.
We are approaching that point on Earth where humans will outgrow Earth, we need to figure out a new way to live, a new way to eat, to shop, to be more mindful about how we can lessen or stop the amount of pollution we are all causing. For facts and statistic on what is happening to check out my previous blog post by clicking here.
So here's where sustainability ties into all of this. The definition that I found to be most fitting is from UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
There are multiple levels of sustainability - from a personal level to an industrial level, there is so much that can be done on both sides that can better the planet and future generations. It's also important to remember that every decision we make has a consequence. There is no one direct path to fixing and potentially reversing some of the damage that has been done. But being more mindful about the things you do, the choices you make, what you decide to buy, who you decide to support is a small but impactful start. Now many large corporations are starting to become aware and are using sustainability or "green" advertisements when their product or company isn't really doing that much besides using recycled polyester and throwing a green hang tag on their product and producing millions of the product. This is called greenwashing. Look for companies that provide legitimate facts and proof that their product offering genuinely sustainable in multiple aspects (content, dyes/finishing, factories, quality, etc)
I will dedicate a post to some of my favorite brands that are setting an industry standard for sustainability.
Until then, ask the below questions to yourself.
1. How much plastic products I purchase in a day/week?
* Think about plastic iced coffee cups, straws, plastic bags, to-go containers, water bottles, soda bottles, etc.
2. How much plastic do you have in your home currently?
* Think about every room - shampoo bottles, food wrappers and packaging, Tupperware, cups, etc.
3. Do I recycle? Am I recycling properly?
* Many people don't know how to recycle properly or even what can be recycled. I suggest reading the below link on how to recycle.
4. How often am I purchasing new clothes?
* Do I really need it? What do I know about this company or brand? LOOK AT THE LABEL! Where is it made? What is it made of?
5. What do I do with the clothes I no longer want but can still be worn?
* There are apps that you can re-sell and trade your clothes with other people. You can drop off clothes at textile recycling or donation bins. Often times I hang my clothes that I no longer want on my fence in front of my apartment and people usually pick them up. Trade with your friends or siblings?
6. What small lifestyle changes could I make to help make a difference?
* They may seem small, but it makes a difference. Just being aware of the things you can change is a big step. And the more people that you talk to around you start to as well it can create a chain effect. *Carry a reusable bag for unexpected last-minute purchases.
*Bring reusable shopping bags when grocery shopping (they also pack nicer than plastic bags)
*Use reusable straws, use Tupperware and opt out of using plastic bags and utensils.
*Buy locally if you can, it's summertime go to a farmers market.
*Educate yourself! There is so much information out there, from documentaries, classes, websites, blogs, Instagram accounts, newsletters, etc. I can dedicate a post to this if interested.