Why 'sustainable' is becoming a dirty word

Shopping local and using zero waste packaging is one way of becoming more sustainability focused.

Shopping local and using zero waste packaging is one way of becoming more sustainability focused. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

We’ve all heard the expressions “do your bit” and “protect the Earth” dropped into conversations, from the lips of politicians or just scattered throughout everyday life. But what about these terms puts our backs up? Or rather, stops us from actually taking action?

Humans aren’t wired for change. Especially as we get older, we find ourselves sticking to the same habits and routines from years ago.

Our brain also ages, so we find ourselves treading down the same paths; without necessarily needing the same changes to routine or mindset. It’s no different when coming to terms with a serious topic like climate change.

It may feel like we’re being attacked by a barrage of advice and statistics from people who ‘know better’ than us; and that can isolate us from the movement. We also tend to view ourselves through rose-tinted glasses.

The suggestion that we’re all responsible for the destruction of Earth isn’t a simple concept to grasp, especially as we always want to think the best of ourselves. So how can we stop seeing this issue as a conflict between two sides; and instead start working towards a solution?

Lottie Warrington looks at the sustainability movement.

Lottie Warrington looks at the sustainability movement. - Credit: Lottie Warrington

When we do decide to slowly filter change into our lives, it doesn’t need to be drastic. It can start with choosing a vegetarian meal at the pub, or buying yourself a reusable shopping bag. I’m not going to preach to you, say that the small changes I’ve suggested will immediately halt climate change and that the only obstacle to overcome is division.

The truth is, you don’t have to be sold on sustainability to make these changes. You might believe that the financial or health benefits outweigh the ethical ones. The important part of the sustainability movement is the end goal, not how and why each individual got there. 

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Time is ticking, and it will continue to do so. The worst impacts of climate change (such as flooding, forest fires and droughts) will be irreversible by 2030; meaning we have less than a decade to halve our carbon dioxide emissions.

In addition to this, over one million species face extinction due to climate change; which will play havoc with food chains and natural processes across the globe. It is important to question any doubts we may have, and maybe consider what the consequences of your inaction could be. The consequences for generations to come. The consequences for your descendants.

If you take anything away from this article, I would like it to be to think more deeply about your actions and how you’re having an impact on the planet. A shift in your mindset is better than begrudgingly chucking a salad in your shopping basket from time to time. You can make much more of a difference if you understand the problem , and begin to incorporate some changes into your life gradually. 

So sustainable is becoming a dirty word; just because to face it we have to accept that our actions are causing the destruction. It doesn't need to be like this. I will be delving into the various aspects of sustainability in my later articles, but for now; try and give these bullet points a go. 

Easy ways to take action today:

* Walk or cycle into town instead of driving.

* Eat less red meat:1kg of beef produces the same amount of CO2 as burning six litres of petrol.

* Put your washing machines or dishwashers on ‘eco’ mode if you have one.

* Use a cleaning spray and cloth instead of wipes.

* Choose organic produce where possible.

* When buying a drink, remember cans are more sustainable than glass, but glass is more sustainable than plastic.

* Make use of your recycling bin.

* Invest in some metal straws - they work out cheaper as they are much more durable than plastic.

* Turn off lights and heating when they’re not necessary.

* Educate yourself.