Becoming sustainable

Bali Ubud
Rice field in Bali

Yesterday WHO confirmed what we already suspected, meat is as bad as cigarettes (read here). And as suspected people are already passionately rejecting this with explanations and exceptions. Alongside there are several studies and a great documentary Cowspiracy (watch it here, or on Netflix) which shows us that the meat and dairy industry is rrrrrreally bad for mother earth and ourselves.

I was venting my frustration when Manuele asked me if I am sustainable. I didn’t hesitate, no I’m not sustainable, but it’s my goal.

People love to believe they are sustainable and environmentally friendly, but what I’ve noticed with this new research about meat being bad for us AND earth, is how some self-claimed environmentalists are rejecting the idea. It seems that when we decide that we already are sustainable, we will stop striving towards becoming sustainable. We pat ourselves on the back and confirm that “I’m good”, and wash our hands of any responsibility from new studies that arise. This is what frustrates me.

What is sustainable? I’ve seen a huge movement coming to life recently called “plastic free” or “no plastic”. As it sounds, people refuse the use of plastic because it’s one of the worst things man has ever made (no, really it is). It pollutes the world and takes hundreds of years to break down during which time it will kill a lot of animals in the process. It contains toxic things like BPA, and BPA-free plastic just replaces the BPA with some new kind of toxin. But is #plasticfree enough to become sustainable?

Lots of people throw out all their plastic items so they can buy new “plastic free” items. But that plastic doesn’t go away, and you’ve just contributed to the evil chain of over consumption by buying a bunch of things you already had.

Of course, I understand that some people don’t want to be poisoned by their food and water. I guess that we need to draw a line somewhere.

But back to my point, no I don’t consider myself sustainable, but it’s my goal.

I think that the only way to become truly sustainable, is by accepting that we are not sustainable. We need to keep striving, keep changing, keep reading and educating ourselves, in order to eventually get there, and we need to be honest about what we do right but more importantly what we do wrong.

I make mistakes. I often buy food wrapped in plastic. Partially because it’s hard to find any other kind of food in Singapore, but partially because I have my plate full and don’t feel I have the time to turn the city up-side-down looking for plastic free veggies. I know I’m making excuses. It sucks, but it’s the truth. Some times I forget to ask to have my drink without a straw. I don’t eat organic food. Some times I buy a dress from H&M. I haven’t donated money to charity since last year. I admit these things, because I want to get better.

I’m not sustainable, but here is what i DO

I didn’t become vegan for my own sake, I did it for animals right to live in peace, and for the sake of our planet.

I stopped bleaching and dying my hair because I realised how much I was polluting the water which we will drink, animals will drink, and which will sip into the soil of this planet where we live.

I stopped using make-up and nail varnish. I know there are environmentally friendly brands out there, but there is nothing more environmentally friendly than not buying it in the first place. Also my skin is much better since I stopped. I make my own “shampoo” from rye flower which lasts several months, conditioner from Apple Cider Vinegar, and deodorant from bicarbonate soda and coconut oil. Less money spent, less packaging and no harmful ingredients.

I plant my own veggies on my balcony.

I use everything I own until it’s really used, I’ll wear my dress until it’s unreparable, I don’t buy new clothes unless I really need them, and when I can I’ll rather buy it second hand than new. There is no shame in this, I’m not poor, I just give a shit.

I upcycle things. When a top starts loosing its shape I’ll cut it up and make it look “new” again. I use old food containers to store my food instead of buying pretty new “maison jars”. I use old food tins to plant my veggies.

I sew clothes from used fabrics, also known as upcycling, and (try to) sell them online (check it out). It means less toxins in the world from production and dyes, and less processing for the production of the material.

But no, with all these things that I do and try to do, I will never claim to be sustainable. I will claim that I’m trying to be sustainable, or that I am sharing tips to (more) sustainable living. But we should never stop challenging ourselves and get comfortable. I am happy about the changes I have made the past few years, but I will never pat myself on the back and say “I’m ok now”. Unless I build an earth ship run by solar energy, with water filtering, a huge veggie garden and live this for the rest of my life. Then maybe. 🙂



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