Let’s get the record straight.
Today, I’m covering the three damaging myths about sustainability that all beginners must break away from in order to achieve a truly harmless supply chain.
Getting our mindset right is the number one thing we have to conquer if we want to succeed in sustainability. As the popular saying goes, “You are your worst enemy and best asset.”
I’ve been gathering information and tidbits of wisdom from people from all walks of life. I realized that the best and most successful ones are those with the right mindset and attitude regarding sustainability.
It’s myth-busting time! Let’s realign our perspectives and make things right:
Myth number one: I have to change my whole life in order to be sustainable.
The poster child of sustainability can look hardcore: living in a small house off-grid, farming our own food, or not owning a car and biking everywhere.
“I can’t live like that,” we exclaim.
With the Internet, there are literally critics everywhere: there’s always something more we can do, something we’re not doing enough, or we’re never doing it right. So instead of disappointing others and, ultimately, ourselves, we just say, “Screw it.”
But, have you heard of the plastic straw dilemma? It can be summed up as, “It’s just one straw,” said seven billion people.
A few people living perfectly isn’t going to counterbalance everyone living recklessly. So don’t put that weight on your shoulders. A few small changes over time and telling people about them can do more than we think.
The average person in the United States uses 1.6 straws a day; if we buy for ourselves and give one to three friends, that’s 2,336 straws, or two lbs of plastic, a year! So don’t go thinking that your one small act won’t make a difference.
It all starts somewhere.
Myth number two: Buying sustainable is too expensive and only for the privileged.
I get it. Something over $100 for a toiletry organizer is crazy. But it’s fast fashion that had us thinking a $12 toiletry organizer is and should be normal. These low costs of production have to come from somewhere, and it’s usually labor.
That $100+ sustainable toiletry organizer means that someone’s work was valued, and they could take care of themselves and their families. Nonetheless, I get it. $100 and over is a lot of money and you have yourself and your own families to take care of.
But buying is only part of the equation. Right now, we live in a world of abundance…and not in a good way.
Follow a brand on your favorite social media platform and sign up for their newsletter, or talk to your friends about what they think. Word of mouth is just as important and valuable in supporting businesses with missions that align with our values.
Choosing not to buy and using what we have is still a part of sustainability, even if what we have isn’t considered a sustainable buy. What’s done is done and making the most out of it is the next best step. Also, by curbing our spending throughout the year, it’ll be easier to drop that $100 into investing in quality pieces and not being tempted by spending a lot of money to get a thing we’ll never use.
Myth number three: It’s just a marketing tool that companies use to boost sales.
When companies spend more time and money on saying their products are more sustainable than they do on actually making their products more sustainable, that’s called greenwashing. You can look up ways companies have been trying to deceive the public and government. It’s not cool; it’s discouraging.
“What’s the point of all this then?”
It’s important to not let negativity win. There are companies that truly support sustainability and market us their truth. That’s the beauty of living in this time—information is so accessible. There are amazing resources available and professionals who are using their voice to steer us in the right direction. We can reduce harm to the planet and others along with their quality of life together; we can show that the economy can still grow in the long-term for everyone.
That’s why connecting with a brand is so important. We need to build relationships, understand their past, know their plans for the future, and make informed decisions. With saturation in every corner of the market, it’s more than just liking a product. We can almost always find something similar. But it’s the connection we share that will steer the market in the right direction.
Why is believing in these three myths problematic?
Because they will stop us from taking the right action. That can affect our confidence, our willingness to seek guidance, and subsequently, we don’t participate in achieving a truly harmless supply chain as a result.
As someone who is building a business based on sustainability, I have been scared of reaching out and feeling like a fraud because I’m not perfect at this. But my mentors and peers have seen breakthrough after breakthrough, and I know that it is not difficult to be sustainable and proud. People just need to provide and receive the right guidance to keep going and succeed.
So take heart. You can do this! Don’t second-guess yourself.