Building a sustainable lifestyle is not about Instagram likes. It’s not about showing off eco-friendly clothing or having the perfect bulk mason jar pantry. And it’s definitely not about having it together all the time. it’s about being open to knowing the truth. To let yourself be pissed off about what’s going on around you and channel that rage into change. It’s about the daily choices that we make, moment by moment. The most important top and, in my opinion, the only way to build a sustainable lifestyle is to know why you’re doing it.
It’s easy for a sustainable lifestyle to look showy. There’s trendy and, let’s be honest, stupidly pricey zero-waste kits out there, beautifully curated minimalist homes going around on Instagram, and high-end sustainable outfit circulating. Don’t get me wrong, there is an appeal to having nice things. But that’s not what living sustainably is all about.
The key to living a sustainable lifestyle is to know why you’re doing it.
None of the flashy items or gorgeous homes or expensive outfits matter. It matter that you have a big enough “why” to keep you kn your sustainable journey. When your house is messy and you’re wearing your favorite, worn-out t-shirt, there needs to be a reason that you so what you do. A reason to grab the reusable bag before you leave the house or skip the coffee while you’re out because you forgot a reusable cup or utter the words “no straw, please.” If you don’t have a “why,” a reason for making the daily life choices that you do, then all of it will seem like a burden. But if you know your “why” and truly believe it, then everything will magically get easier.
And it really is quite magical. There have been studies shown that people that believe their “why” are more committed and more likely to stick to their goals. There are TedTalks and books on the topic. Heck, pretty much every online course has a section about know why you’re there or who you are. This is true even in daily life.
May your why starts with going vegan to save the animals or help the planet. Maybe it’s going plastic-free because you’re sick of seeing plastic take over the beaches. Maybe it’s just remembering to bring a reusable bag with you. Or maybe you’re just outraged after seeing a report about global warming. No one’s journey is the same. For me, it started with a love for thrifting and slowly took over all aspects of my life. Why? Because I kept daring to learn more.
There’s one thing that stays the same in everyone’s sustainable journey
Once you know things, you can never un-know them. It’s really that simple. If you take the time to read the report, watch the documentary, talk to a friend, you cannot ever say that you don’t know again. When you gain info about the world around you, it’s up to you to react. You can decide when or if you’d like to help. You can make your won sustainable living rules. From there on out, you will have your why. If you believe it enough, everything you do in the future to help the planet will suddenly get easier.
Not sure where to start? You’re in luck. If you haven’t quite found you “why” yet, it’s easier than ever to get the information. There are tons of documentaries, reports, news articles, and entire blogs devoted to whatever topic lights you up. Here are some of the resources that sparked my interest and made my “why” stronger than ever.
1. Watching The True Cost
This should come as no surprise. I’ve talked about this documentary a lot in my past posts, and for a reason. The documentary, which is available on Netflix, gives the story of Rana Plaza and the thousands of people that lost their lives for fast fashion. It also covers organic cotton farming, the lives of garment workers, and how fas fashion affects the planet as well.
This documentary was my ah-ha moment. I can even remember the exact moment. It was a late summer night, underneath my covers, with the glow of Netflix illuminating the room that I knew that my life would never be the same. I could no longer unknow what I watched. This changed the way I live my life to this day.
2. Reading Eating Animals
This book changed the way I see food. Not just for the animals, but also for the planet and my own health. It goes through family vs. factory farming, the ethical factors of, well, eating animals, and gives so much insight into how the planet if affected by slaughterhouses.
After I read this book, the way I ate completely changed. I didn’t immediately go vegan or even vegetarian, but I shop completely differently. Food is a personal journey, and I could spend an entire blog post describing why I eat what I eat, but it’s not worth it. My main point is to read this book — whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or a meat-eater — because you’ll learn a whole lot about the world around you.
3. Taking the Who Made My Clothes Course
If you’ve read my post on this free online class, you’ll know how much it changed me. I learned about the supply chain, but, more importantly for me, about synthetic versus natural fibers. I jumped into the course by discovering that one of my favorite, ethically made dresses was terrible for the planet. Yes, really. It was eye-opening and changed the way that I shop, the fabrics that I buy, and how I wash them.
The great thing about learning is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. Maybe it’s an Instagram post that you stumble upon one day or an entire course that you take. Whatever it is, just do it. Seek out the information. Participate in Dressember this year, listen to podcasts, follow new people on Instagram. Find your why.