Looking ahead to dream up new goals means looking at the past to see how we’ve gotten to where we are now, and so far a huge part of my practice has been sharing my story as I go. Thinking about where I was 10 or 15 years ago compared to where I am now, a lot has changed. Not only creatively, or business-wise, but also being more conscious about habits and daily routines. It’s been a slow roll getting here, and there’s still a long way to go, but it’s made me think about the process that has gotten me to this point & I’ve broken it down into 5 steps towards changing the world.
This can be interpreted in any way you please, but my focus is sustainability-related. From changing your mindset to taking action and making small changes all along the way. Because I truly believe that if we each did something little here & there that it adds up far quicker than 1 person attempting to completely rid of their carbon footprint.
Please know that as each item organically came to mind that a slightly inappropriate acronym started to come to fruition. However, I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth because anatomy references will always be funny when it comes to butts, boobs, poops & farts. I refuse to change my mind or grow up in this regard & I also refuse to disclose where I was located when this all came to culmination, but will say that it happened in a place where I do some of my best thinking + consequently is hard to write things down.
It’s easy to remember when it spells out AREOLAS.
(Nope. Definitely don't have breastfeeding on the mind.)
Look for Alternatives
I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again. That just consciously opening your eyes to what’s happening around you instead of staying sucked into your routine is a game changer & the first step towards making any sort of change. That’s the beauty of it, too- that in order to get started you literally don’t have to do anything. Except be aware I guess.
Open your eyes to your own habits, what’s available at your fingertips, what you’re reaching for on the regular & where there’s room for change.
From my own experience it was becoming aware of the amount of excess packaging, the amount of stuff I was throwing away, my own consumerism & the number of things I was acquiring. Becoming conscious of all these things made me do a double take. If everyone else was acting in a similar fashion to me- where is all this junk ending up when we no longer need it?
Not asking for an essay on your findings, just suggesting a little Googling here & there, asking a friend for their opinion, following your favorite zero waste guru on Instagram or picking the brain of the girl who owns the bulk store (props to Kendra from Ren Market for answering my millions of questions!).
Once you’ve realized what changes can be made, it’s easy to dive into the world of brands labeled with tag lines like, “eco-friendly”, “sustainable”, “green” this & that, or “made from recycled materials”. As it’s becoming trendier & feel good-ier to jump on the bandwagon towards sustainability brands will slap on these “green washing” techniques to grab your attention. Meanwhile, they’re not really that green after all. I mean, can you really expect a $20 tshirt from H&M to really belong in a “Conscious Collection”?
As far as technology has come, clothes are still made by people. Actual people using technologically advanced machines, but still actual people cutting, sewing, etc. & how the heck a garment can go from raw materials to something you put on your back for $20 retail blows my mind. Unless, of course, those actual people aren’t being paid fairly. Which is perhaps more of a ethical issue than sustainability in a sense, but surely not creating a sustainable lifestyle for these actual people. It’s all connected.
The spark notes: do a little digging before you start jumping in.
3. Explore Options
Exploring your options is all about looking around at what you already own. Seeking out what you already have at your fingertips instead of starting completely from scratch.
This means looking at everything in a new angle. As we started turning our spare bedroom in to a nursery I had a vision of all the new furniture I wanted to outfit it with. But before biting the bullet, I went “shopping” in my workspace & found several pieces that I already owned that would fit in just as well. I scoured thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace & asked friends for hand-me-downs rather than starting fresh with everything new.
AKA- get creative. Wash out the empty spaghetti jar from last night’s dinner & use it to hold your homemade dishwasher detergent or flip over an old metal basket for use as a plant stand. Instead of seeing an item at face value, see it for its materials & be open to using it in a completely new way.
4. Look for Alternatives
Sometimes there’s no way around it, you’ve gotta source something new. Now’s the time to look for alternative elsewhere. And when doing so, keep the previous bullet points in mind. Source secondhand when possible, do your research to find out the intentions behind the companies you’re purchasing from & to see if the item is truly as “green” as it’s claiming to be.
Fun fact: bamboo gets a good rep for being a sustainable material, but it’s really only as good as it claims when it’s in certain forms. Bamboo flooring? Great! Bamboo clothing? Not so great. The tough material requires a lot of chemicals to turn it into something soft, breathable & wearable. However clothing & diaper companies go on and on about their plant-based materials even though they’re practicing just as much harm as good.
So basically, look for options you already own & when all else fails, find new alternative elsewhere.
I added this last step with a little trepidation. No one likes a bragger, so when I say, “share,” I mean share with intention. Share in a way that feels natural to you without judging or preaching. Share through your actions & share your opinions when you feel called to or asked. Share your knowledge or alternatives with love rather than inducing fear (we’ve already got enough of that going around).
Sharing your findings & alternatives can create a ripple effect which spreads the movement.
MOST IMPORATNTLY- and I’ll shout this from the rooftops- it’s about progress, NOT PERFECTION. Give yourself grace & practice making one small change at a time rather than everything at once. Use the 5 steps for each of those small changes, one at a time.