2020 seems to be the year of controversy. Dissent is encouraged, and it's becoming more difficult than ever to remain oblivious to societal issues. We're operating in an era of sensationalism fueled by access to social media outlets. One of the many issues that has been called to the Internet's attention lately is climate change. Countless places have been ravaged by wildfires caused by climate change, and In Manhattan, the Metronome clock was recently changed to display the amount of time left before environmental damage is irreversible. While it is not up to us as individuals to singlehandedly save the entire planet, there are a few small changes that we can make in our everyday lives to reduce the detrimental impact we have on the world.
First and most importantly, do your own research to decide what you value and if your current lifestyle fits those values. One of the most important parts of sustainability is the ability to maintain the practices you choose to implement. That's why I find it important to start by making simple changes, like taking shorter showers or using reusable market bags instead of plastic bags for fruit. If you're tight on time but have extra money you'd like to give, research organizations that resonate with you and donate to them. If you're on a budget but have free time on weekends, look into volunteering for an hour or two every once in a while. The awesome part about making a change- this goes for environmentally or otherwise- is that it doesn't have to happen overnight. It's become a trend on social media to encourage action, but the scope of beneficial actions exists far beyond change.org petitions and twitter threads.
Reducing Consumption of Animal Products
There are two primary reasons most people cite for consuming less animal products- animal welfare and protection of the ozone layer. Obviously, the meat and dairy industries are huge corporations and it should be their responsibility to make sure they are using ethical practices in their production. However, businesses are driven by what's going to be the most profitable and appealing to consumers, so unless they see that a majority of the population wants them to make a change, they'll operate as they have been for decades. The bad news? As much as we'd like to make an immediate change by only eating organic kale smoothies and Beyond Meat breakfast sandwiches, it could take years to create a change noticeable enough to stir action from the general population who are usually focused on convenience over quality and sustainability. The good news, though, is that plant based diet fads have increased the availability of meat and dairy alternatives so they're not unattainable by any means. Transitioning to a diet and lifestyle that emphasizes the consumption of plants instead of animal products is ultimately more sustainable, and can end up being cheaper and healthier in the long run for us as consumers!
The fashion industry is undoubtably one of the biggest contributors to pollution and climate change, and part of the problem can be attributed to social media and the glamorization of influencer culture. With so many websites making fake designer items attainable at a reasonable price, why would anyone care about if the brand they're buying from is ethical or sustainable? Gucci tennis shoes for under $200? I mean, come ON!!!! I would be lying if I said that I haven't made purchases on Shein before I realized the implications of supporting a business like that. But to be completely honest, slow fashion has benefits beyond curbing climate change. Thrift shopping and buying from smaller businesses is so much fun and so much more personal, and I have never felt bad for cropping a tank top that was only $4!!! An app I like to use to check if a big brand has good practices or not is called "Good On You". It doesn't provide information for every brand, but they give a good overview of where most of your favorites stand!
Don't Buy What You Don't Need
This is probably one of the simplest things to do in theory, but it can be difficult to be mindful of every time you waste a plastic bag or get a straw just to throw it away. These things, just like everything else previously mentioned, aren't going to singlehandedly save the earth, but every small step is a step in the right direction. Honestly, one of the biggest things for me has been eating less fast food because they just use so. much. plastic. Something else that has been a challenge has been using reusable bags instead of plastic ones. It feels so awkward and weird the first time you do it, but eventually you realize that everyone else is worried about their own groceries and they aren't actually watching you at all. The process of reducing excess waste can honestly be applied to anything and once you overcome the initial struggle of remembering to bring a reusable bag or having to cook your own fresh produce, it will help you create routines and habits that benefit you as well.