Only in recent years has sustainability started to become more central to our everyday lives. More and more people are becoming aware of their actions and the effects they have on the environment, which is great! The actions that people are taking and are able to take are also increasing. We now have straws made out of bamboo and sharing services that connect us with resources we didn’t have. Even in mainstream media, there are influencers popping up and sharing their tips and tricks for living sustainably. But the media can also play a part as to why people see sustainable living as a challenge.
With mainstream media, comes the bias side that spreads myths and misconceptions about any topic. Due to the high polarity of opinions surrounding climate change issues, there are many misconceptions and myths that have been created surrounding sustainability. There seems to be three main streams to follow, those who believe it’s all a hoax, those on the fence, and those who believe wholeheartedly. With this comes many opposing views on the same issues that can make your head spin from all the back and forth ideas. Navigating this winding road of information can be quite confusing and overwhelming which is why we have busted a few of the most common myths below.
It’s expensive. Living sustainably doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a lot of really cool products out there that will help you live the sustainable life of your dreams. However, don’t fall prey to thinking that you need all these products to live sustainably. The first thing you always hear is to use what you have. Before you go out and buy reusable bags or silicone food covers, make use of the plastic bags and plastic wrap you have first. Yes, it may seem counterintuitive to keep using plastic but it will create less waste in the long run. Look at what you have first, glass jars are great for so many things, even your old pickle jar can be repurposed into something new.
My changes won’t make a difference. Every action counts, no matter how big or small. While it may be more noticeable if plastic bans are in place, it doesn’t discredit any actions you are taking. If each individual chose to turn off their lights when they left the room, so much energy could be saved. The same goes for cutting out single-use plastic. It is the addition of each individual action that will create the biggest difference. It can get incredibly frustrating knowing that your hard work may be overtaken by the large corporations dumping more pollution into the environment. But keep doing what you’re doing, knowing that your actions matter and you are making a difference.
I can’t access the resources where I live. While it can be difficult living in an area that is not set up to support sustainable living, there are tons of resources online that you can use. Environment Lethbridge has an entire website dedicated to lowering your food waste and their main website also has great information on resources that can be used outside of Lethbridge. Plastic Free YYC and Trash is for Tossers are also great websites for information on zero waste living. Some bulk food stores like Bulk Barn offer reusable container programs that allow you to refill your containers with their products. If you find that there is a larger community within your area that has similar thoughts on sustainable living, try starting a community group where like minded individuals can share ideas and resources. This creates a community of individuals working to make their community a better place to live.
I have to give up what I like. If you want to live a true sustainable life, it may mean a complete lifestyle overhaul where some of the things you know and love are no longer a part of your life. However, this is not true for a lot of us. Making small changes and switches is an easy way to make your life more sustainable while still getting to do the things you love. For instance, if you are someone who enjoys getting their nails done, support a local green salon and try walking to your next appointment. If your kids play sports or partake in other activities, try setting up a carpool between you and some of the other parents to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, lowering emissions. And if you want to take that step and live completely sustainable and off the grid, that is great too. There should be no judgement as to whether you are carpooling to do your part or if you are living in a grass house, making your own everything. As we have said before, no action is too small when it comes to taking that first step towards a more sustainable life.
Sustainability chooses the environment over people. Sustainability is a win-win situation for everyone and everything involved, which is why it is so important. We get to benefit from healthier environments, while the environment gets a chance to breathe and recover from the stress we have put on it. Our industries based on natural resources will have to make some changes in order to support the environment better, but that does not mean at the cost of the people. If we continued without changing, people would be the first to notice a decline in their quality of life because of the environmental factors. However, if we bring the environment, ecosystems and natural resources more into focus when we are making our decisions, the future looks much brighter for everything on earth.
Choosing to live a sustainable life doesn’t mean you have to revamp your whole life and spend large amounts of money. Start small and then build your way up to the sustainable life goals you want. There will always be someone with a reason as to why plastic straw alternatives aren’t good enough or why alternative energies are more harmful. Erasing these myths and misconceptions will take time, but stick to the sustainable living path and you’ll make a meaningful difference – both for the people and the environment.